I just write this all down so that I can remember it, really. Nothing is all that fleshed out here ……
~ My 13-year-old nephew’s favorite class in middle school is drama, so he went around making bold pronouncements about who all the bad actors and actresses are. He is now in the know, you see.
~ As his loving aunt, I saw it as my duty to tease him about girls. He’s one of those 13 year olds. Very cute, confident for his age. A babe magnet. Plus, I already know from my sister that calls come to the house every week from giggly mystery girls who ask for him and then hang up. He’s clearly on the middle school chick radar so someone’s gotta tease him and it might as well be me, I figure. At one point, I had him blushing and bowing his head after a particularly grueling cross-examination, and I said, “‘Member when you used to love me?” “Noo,” he said. Then, of course, the wrassling began. Later on, though, while we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, he lay on the couch with his head in my lap for a long time. He still does stuff like that. It’s so sweet.
~ Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, we gather near the tree in the evening and have Circle. Circle is when we sing Christmas carols — uhm, my dad passes out these — for lack of a better way to describe them — Christmas carol brochures that were made by a company he worked for years ago. I mean, these things are probably 35 years old and they still get passed out every year despite the fact that we all know all the words to every verse of every carol on that darn brochure. It’s just what’s done: Dad passes out the carol brochures. So we hold the brochures and we sing. Middle nephew (see above) sat between MB and me and between verses I would whisper to him, “Oh, here comes your solo. Ready, Go!” and he’d start giggling. Terrible boy. Sheesh. Control yourself, kid. I am aghast. Baby Jesus can manage not to cry in the manger and you’re sitting here laughing. For shame.
~ After carols, someone reads Luke chapter 2 from this huge old family Bible. It’s someone different every year. Then we hold hands in a circle — usually all sitting on the floor — and pray together. Whoever wants to pray something. Anything. Even Piper, if she wants. And Banshee chimed in at great length this year but it was very soft and high-pitched, so it was pretty much a private moment between her and her God. Maybe it was “Please keep me from killing Nana, Jesus. Thank you. Amen.”
~ After Circle time, my parents went home. Because of mom’s chronic illness, she can’t sleep overnight in a strange bed anymore. My brother and family went home because of Baby Banshee. So it was just us and my sister’s family. Very mellow. Low key.
~ We had NO problem whatsoever getting Piper to bed. She requested to have MB and I put her to bed. She put out a plate for Santa — Hershey’s kisses and candy canes and milk — got in her jammies and jumped into bed. One story, where we alternated reading pages. Then she was completely ready to sleep. Kiss, kiss, kiss, you go now, I sleep now. It was that easy.
~ Later that night, as we were putting out presents from Santa, my brother-in-law opened a tiny package under the tree that said “To Santa From Piper.” “You have to see this,” he said. He handed the box to me and inside was a handmade wooden bead bracelet with four letter beads that spelled out “HERO.” The R was backwards. Piper had made that and wrapped it herself and put it under the tree for Santa. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes. I said, “What’re you going to do with it?” “Keep it hidden away for a few more years, then I think I’ll give it back to her when she’s old enough.” “That’s a good idea.” “Yeah.” And then we just stood there in the glow of the tree, together but quiet, for a long minute.
~ The Santa Ana winds were blowing fierce on Christmas morning, starting around 3 a.m. It’s hilly at my sister’s house and the wind was literally howling through those hills outside our window. Couldn’t sleep because I was lying there just waiting for ol’ Santa to come crashing through the window on his wind-tossed sleigh. Found out later that the gusts were up to 80 miles an hour that night. Lots of downed decorations in people’s yards that morning. Broken candy canes. Dead reindeer. Headless Frosties. Your basic natural disaster. Ho ho ho.
~ About 6 a.m., I heard the thud of Piper’s feet on the floor above me. Sheeee’s up! Then ….. thud-thud-thud-thud-thud, rapid fire as she bounded down the stairs. Then a pause. I knew she looking at the stash from Santa under the tree. “Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY!!” And she thudded up the stairs again. It was the best way to wake up ever.
~ I got up, joined my sister in the kitchen, helped with Christmas breakfast. Piper hugging anything in sight. She was literally glowing with anticipation. “Where’s Uncle Beloved?!” “He’s still asleep, sweetie.” He wasn’t, really, but she likes to go in and “wake him up.” I tiptoed to the door of our room and through a crack in the door, told MB that he needed to be asleep, Piper was coming. He obligingly faked sleep and Piper burst through the door, climbing on him and tickling him awake. She just loves her Uncle Beloved.
~ Piper got the blue Sharpei (sp?) dress from High School Musical. She was over the moon. She wants to wear it to the next father-daughter dance, she said. Hahaha. We’ll see.
~ Santa had eaten all the kisses and candy canes and left her a thank you note for his bracelet. She made sure to point all this out to us. She was so proud and happy.
~ Oh, I forgot to mention my favorite gift! Christmas Eve, my brother was acting all wiggly with anticipation to give my sister and me our presents. “You have to open them together; they’re the same thing.” I had no idea what it could possibly be. Just two small boxes. We opened them up and I gasped out loud when I saw it: a CD of a verrry obscure Christian duo that the three of us were completely obsessed with back in the ’70s. We listened to our tape (back then) CONSTANTLY. They were IT for us. They had it together. All figured out or something. They gave us hope, helped us believe, made the Christian life seem …. well, a lot easier than it is. But they were so of a time for us, if that makes any sense. The music by most anyone’s standards would be seen as totally cheesy and yet, I can’t see them that way at all. I see them through much younger eyes and I’m sure I always will. I’m still not entirely sure how my brother put this all together. I mean, these guys are OB-scure. Over the years, I’ve tried to search them out online, but to no avail. My brother just said, very matter-of-factly, “I found a guy online and he made me these copies.” He’d also had the guy copy the photo from the old cassette cover and put it on our CD’s. So sweet, so thoughtful. The three of us were instantly transported back, back, years ago, to that secret place we shared because of this music. It was my favorite gift. Maybe one of my favorite gifts ever.
~ After breakfast, after the gift opening, after all the commotion, my sister and I tried to sneak away just to talk. We climbed on their bed — and — oh Sweet Jesus! — my BIL’s side of the bed has this memory foam dealie that I instantly fell in love with, so SO comfy, like floating. We chatted quietly for a few moments, until middle nephew barged in. “What’re you doin’?” He climbed into the bed between us. Sister time over. Moments later, BIL came in, collapsed on the bed. Four of us now, sharing a bed, sister and I wrassling nephew, BIL trying to sleep on the very edge. Moments later, oldest nephew. “Hey! Here’s where you all are!” Thunk. On the bed. Getting crowded. Can’t breathe. “Let’s watch a movie,” someone said. (They have a flat screen in the bedroom, conveniently, for all of us lazybones.) We ended up watching, appropriately, Independence Day and digging into the big ol’ bucket — literally, bucket — of caramel almond popcorn I’d made for all of them. Five of us, plopped on the bed, snuggled together, all third world and cozy, littering the bed with caramel corn. Only 2 of us were missing but, apparently, Piper had kidnapped MB and he was buried deep deep deep in “My Li’l Pet Shop” assembly and play time. We could hear their voices. Just so cute. He’s so patient with her. They played Pet Shop for like an hour and a half.
~ Finally, the two of them came wandering into our Very Third World Christmas Bed. “Oh, I see what’s going on here.” Piper plopped onto the pile. BIL and older nephew climbed off and took spots on the floor. MB climbed on. The revolving door of bed personnel. Sister, nephew, MB, Piper, and me. All happily crowded. Tickling nephew. Snuggling Piper. Eating caramel corn. Watching Independence Day.
All very lovely and cozy and Christmasy.
Enjoy the last day of the year, everyone!!