Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas: A Little Happy. A Little Sad.

If this post were about how awesome our Christmas would be a total lie. Christmas was challenging. Mostly an internal one. A struggle of expectations.

From Christmas Eve:

We returned home late on Christmas Eve after celebrating with family. We put the kids to bed and dragged the gifts up from the basement. I was trying so hard to get in the Christmas spirit. By the time I crawled into bed (1:00am), it sure LOOKED like Christmas.

And Santa had even left proof of his presence with two large snowy footprints.

The next morning, I heard Jacob open the door to his room at 6:30a.m. I held my breath and waited for him to shout in excitement. All he did was plod over to the couch and turn on the TV. The kid waltzed right past the presents and didn't even notice! I was still exhausted so I just dozed back to sleep. A full hour and a half later, I heard Ryan cry and Jacob (having just decided to plug the Christmas tree lights in) finally stormed into my room declaring that Santa had left presents.

Much to Jacob's disappointment, I made everyone eat breakfast before presents. I tried out my new waffle maker (gift from my family's secret santa exchange). The general consensus from most was that the waffles were just "ok." But Ryan, on the other hand, was exceptionally happy about eating his first waffle.

After breakfast, we sat down in the living room to open gifts. What ensued was nothing short of a chaotic blur. What took me an entire hour of gift wrapping was all undone in less than 10 minutes. Just like that, gifts were done. The presents I had painstakingly selected the past several weeks were unmasked and tossed aside as new gifts were revealed. I could tell from his face that my husband was not exactly thrilled with his gifts. Jacob seemed more excited about Ryan's presents than his own. And Ryan, oblivious to the whole charade, was crawling around the floor trying to eat discarded scraps of wrapping paper.

Then there were more than a couple temper tantrums and yelling matches. I guess kids are kids. Even on Christmas Day. Obviously, they did not get the message that today was supposed to be sickeningly happy and magical.

Jacob talked me into assembling his beloved new Slushee maker. I reached into the freezer to grab some icecubes only to find that they were all melted. My heart sank. I opened the fridge and touched the first thing I saw. It was warm. Sometime during the hustle and bustle of Christmas morning, our refrigerator had died. The $100 that I had spent on groceries was slowly and painfully spoiling right before my eyes. The meatballs, the chicken, the beef, the milk, the creamer, the everything. We hauled everything out and either tossed it or stored it away in coolers. The entire contents (or what was left of it) of my fridge is now sitting in three coolers full of ice out in our front yard. A new fridge has been added to the list of expensive things that need to be repaired in our 100 year old home (we recently discovered that we need a new $4,000 furnace but this purchase was put on hold so that we could repair the car that I wrecked earlier this month).

And with that, my holiday skepticism turned into sourness. I sank to my knees in the living room, stared out the window, and let the tears silently fall down my face. Today didn't feel like Christmas. It felt like any other day. The anticipation, which took its sweet time in coming, was now over. Jacob wasn't as thrilled about Christmas as all those kids in the TV commercials (and Ryan hadn't a clue). The gifts were done. Christmas morning was now in the past. Where was the magic? My heart didn't feel warm and full. That's all?

I sat there and silently cried for a good ten minutes. I wallowed in the let-down. I succumbed to the negativity that had been welling up inside me for the past couple of days. The one magical day of the year was here and it was not...magical. In the rush of the refrigerator incident, I had even missed Christmas Mass.

My sad thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the kids laughing. Ryan was crawling excitedly after a new ball and Jacob was laughing as he threw more balls in Ryan's direction. Ryan's eyes caught mine. His face cracked into his familiar gigantic grin. Then the two boys were back to rolling around on the floor and taking turns cracking each other up. I wiped away a couple tears and I couldn't help but smile as I sat there and watching them.

Ryan propped himself from a laying position to a sitting position. He giggled loudly, flapped both arms in the air repeatedly and rocked back and forth at the same time. Jacob approached and tickled his belly in encouragement. Then Jacob leaned into Ryan so far that they both came crashing to the floor. Ryan giggled. Jacob giggled. I giggled. I spend the next ten minutes just watching them enjoy each other and, yes, their new toys.

I somehow got Jacob to pose for this picture below. Notice his pants. He is wearing size 18 month sweats here. I'm failrly confident that his daddy did that.
Although my sadness lingered, I was suddenly also thankful that I had the entire day to spend with the kids. Yeah, Christmas morning was over and it had been disappointing. But, silly me, that wasn't the only thing I had to look forward to. As reality set in, I suddenly remembered how great our ordinary everyday was. I had been so consumed and obsessed with Christmas these last few weeks that I had lost sight of the everyday special moments. Sure, Christmas morning was over. But watching the boys play and enjoy each other is what really makes holidays special. And that can happen anytime. As soon as I realized that, my spirit lifted and I reveled in the fact that I had many hundreds of more days with these two special little men.

Sadly, however, my fridge still looks like this:

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