Christmas Eve began inauspiciously, with Mabel awake too early because she had a runny nose. She told me it was really extra bad having a grumpy day on Christmas Eve, which is a hard enough day to get through at the best of times. We went ice skating to try to burn off some energy – it’s been raining all day, so outdoor activities were not on the cards – but neither child really got their money’s worth out of it and we showed up late and left early for the meagre two-hour session.
B and I did some sorting out and wrapping of all the cardboard box contents last night, and all the new thrilling packages under the tree this morning barely survived the thorough investigation they were put through when they were finally noticed this morning. I had to make a pronouncement that IF the packages were left alone all day, people MIGHT get to open ONE this evening before bed.
When we’re not travelling for Christmas, and we don’t have anywhere to go tomorrow or anyone to have for dinner, I have too much time on my hands to reflect on the slightly ridiculous arbitrariness of it all. Why should we have to wait till tomorrow morning to open all those perfectly good items? Why should we eat a fancy dinner on this random Thursday? Why is it any different from any other? The strength of tradition, I suppose. These things we do because they’re what we always did.
So the kids did leave the presents alone for the rest of the day, and I they chose to open the gifts they’d given each other, the ones from the crappy little “holiday shop” at school that we’d sent them in with money for. That way they both got the fun of opening something and of seeing the thing they’d chosen being opened. We let them give us our presents too, so now I have a SpongeBob pencil and two stretchy bracelets and B has two pens in the shape of baseball bats that say “Dad” on them.
I’ve done some baking and eaten too many mince pies, and the children have played Clue(do) and watched the film Clue, which B is hoping to make a new holiday tradition. I’m sure it’s not entirely suitable, but hey, it’s not Die Hard (that other Christmas movie). Now they’re requesting their new favourite song, Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You.” Because we’re on the cutting edge of 1994 over here.
Soon, surely, eventually, it will be bedtime and they will be asleep and we will stuff the stockings and stack Santa’s offerings. And we’ll go to bed and smile in our sleep because we are together and warm and safe, and we have more than we could possibly deserve.