Simply wonderful Christmas

Christmas, 2001, the first Christmas of the century, was a memorable one. I got up with the birds (it’s in my blood, though I do enjoy a late “lie-in” once in a while). I wanted to finish tagging gifts and make sure Santa filled the stockings (I helped him). Kathie came to the kitchen around 8 o’clock where I was organizing things for a brunch – (breakfast casserole, English muffins, kolachi, tomato juice, and spiced coffee). She kept asking if she could wake Daddy.

“Not yet,” I’d say, “he’ll get up soon.” Every few minutes we repeated this dialogue – varied words/same meaning, until finally we heard his footsteps in the hall. “Can I wake Josie now?” she said. Neither of my girls are the Christmas early risers that my brothers and I were; 6 a.m. was as long as we could wait. This year Josie had been “under the weather” for a couple of days and obviously felt that whatever “Santa” had arranged in our living room would be there all day. Finally, curiosity (and the possibility of little sister disturbing things before she got to see them) got to her.

I heard them talking with their dad about “waiting for Mom” (who was waiting for a kitchen timer to go off). We each picked one thing to unwrap, had breakfast, and then went back to our gifts. Mark was gracious enough to allow Lloyd (Josie’s cat since September) to join us; he’s usually not allowed in the living room. Santa had left a large box for Lloyd. He ignored the two stoneware bowls Santa had frugally found for him at Goodwill and played with the wrapping and ribbon. Finally he settled on the only comfy chair left – the largest recliner. His “power gaze” ruled me and I sat on a caned seated straight chair for the party.

Another change after several years, was the lack of plastic toys (you know, the pink/purple “Barbie” variety). The girls still spend some time with those toys, but the only real plaything this year was a large can of Tinkertoys. My brothers and I used to enjoy them. Mom had passed two old cans along to me when she was on a cleaning spree. Both cans contained the natural colored, round connectors; there were no sticks. How this came to be we’ll never know?

Kathie, 10, didn’t open her can of wooden pieces with the same excitement as the pink/purple plastic kind, but, the next day, I came home from running errands to find them spread out, her pondering over the Tinkertoy directions, building a chopper (one of their designs).

For the first time in years, we were staying home – all day! We

didn’t have to hurry the kids to change from their lounging clothes to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s. We didn’t pull them away from their new playthings – not that there were many. Mark and I are trying to curb the amount of “things” we have on Christmas – partly out of necessity: we can’t afford to go overboard, and our house is small -partly because we don’t want our kids (or ourselves) to be accustomed to “grandiose expectations” under the Christmas tree. We still had more than any healthy souls should receive at one time.

Although I loved Christmas at home, I didn’t coast for long because I was fixing a special dinner – Cornish game hens with stuffing balls. Kathie helped me set the table with real cloth napkins that she folded like a pocket to hold little ornaments. (She tucked hers under her chin later and said what fun it was to wipe her hands on it – like wiping them on her clothes.)

We had red and green Jell-O cubes with whipped cream in wine goblets at each place. The girls lit candles around the kitchen, and we had a lovely meal – just the four of us – with Christmas music playing.

After we cleared the dinner things away, we took the cloth off the table and played card games. Mark taught the girls to play euchre. I slowly remembered how to play, but my mind was getting tired, feeling a bit old but very happy.

How thankful I am for my family and the things we have. May we always remember to try to give back more than we get and notice the times when we should give a little extra!

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