Christmas is always exhausting for me. I am a bundle of energy and enthusiasm leading up to the big day, but once it arrives, I fall into a coma. The amount of effort that it takes to prepare for Christmas is staggering ... the 150+ cards, the decorations, the shopping, the wrapping, the Goodwill donations, the baking, the Christmas church services, the shipping when I am ahead of the game (rarely) and buy presents for family afar, the parties, the caroling, the big dinner - the excitement of Christmas morning, and the massive amount of cleaning up that follows.
This year, I've decided Christmas is especially exhausting when you have 2-year old triplets and are expecting another baby ... and everyone is sick with a monster cold that we picked up sometime last week. But even with those minor details notwithstanding, it isn't unusual that I can be found in the same pajamas Christmas evening, that I wore to bed, Christmas Eve.
Some people have a huge celebration on Christmas, with lots of friends and family, and a grand dinner. We always have a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve - with English Poppers, a gift on every plate, and an elegant meal. This year because we didn't have family in town, we entertained four of our good friends - who are like family to us. We said goodnight at 11:30 PM and then stayed up for the next two hours getting ready for today. For as long as we have been married, we reserve Christmas day for a time that we can hang around in our jammies, play with the new gifts that we've received, take random naps throughout the afternoon, and watch the movie "It's A Wonderful Life".
This morning, the children were awake at 7:00 AM and while I tried to contain them in the nursery, Charlie got the camera set up so that he could record their expressions as they rounded the corner and experienced their third Christmas morning. Because I had removed almost all of the toys from the family room late last week
William instantly gravitated to an oversized panda bear. He threw his arms around it and remained that way for the next ninety minutes. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Carolyn were enamored with the real shopping cart, bassinets for their baby dolls, red bouncing balls, train table (and huge assortment of Brio and Thomas the Train accessories - thanks to Auntie Beth!!), vacuum ... and every toy Santa brought - except for the panda which their brother was hovering over like a mother bear guarding her cub. Charlie surprised me with a beautiful coat, and I surprised him with a bike trailer. The bike trailer is not just for Charlie - but for
Initially, I was extremely apprehensive about my babies being carted around in a trailer attached to my husband's bike. I was particularly concerned about their safety and when Charlie first told me that he wanted to get a trailer last year, without hesitation, I replied "Absolutely NOT. Are you insane?!!"
But then ... the children turned two.
They figured out how to escape from their cribs, they take pleasure in peeling wallpaper off their nursery walls, they frequently take off their clothing and remove their diapers, they scale almost all the furniture in our house (including a 6-foot high bookshelf) and they quickly destroy almost everything they touch. Which is almost everything.
I reconsidered my position.
Charlie can keep up with his cycling, with an added aerobic component that comes in the form of pulling two todders. The kids get lots of fresh air.
It was because of my former, pre-two-year old position, Charlie was completely shocked when he opened his brand new bike trailer this morning, equipped with safety accessories that included a fully enclosed compartment with two five-point harnesses, roll bar, a bright orange flag, a rearview mirror and flashing lights for the front and back of his bike. I also purchased top-of-the-line helmets for our kids. With a smile and reminder to stay safe ... I bode them farewell, waving happily from the front door in my pajamas. At 3 PM.
My decision to purchase the bike trailer was a great one. Today, I had a peaceful afternoon with one child, while a happy Charlie took turns riding two of our happy children around the neighborhood. Infact, we all had such a good time that we will probably do this again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. Probably every single day, until the 100-pound weight limit for the trailer is exceeded.
Watching Charlie ride off with our gleeful toddlers this afternoon, I was struck, yet again, by how fast our children are growing up. Two years ago, our Christmas tree was fully decorated and our premature infants were swaddled in blankets around the base. Last year, the Christmas tree was only 3-feet tall and perched on top of a table so that our fledgling toddlers couldn't reach it. This year, we were only able to decorate the top half of our Christmas tree with ornaments (which didn't deter the kids from standing on the arms of our couch and chair and perilously reaching out to grab that which they should not touch) ... but the children are fully aware how to turn on the switch every morning to make the "Twismas twee" light up and they took great joy in scaling ladders to help decorate.
Christmas was amazing. Our children are amazing. And the slide show I pulled together, set to Gary Hoey's "Away In A Manger", shows just how amazingly fast they grow up.
May everyone feel as blessed as we do on this Holy night.