Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve

IMG_4919I always take a big giant breath of relief when I see the tree like this on Christmas Eve.  The living room in order and ready for the magic to begin the next morning.   It feels like so much of my work is done by that point and I can just relax and let it all that magic wash over me. 
We had a packed, but great Christmas Eve.   We delivered some secret Santa gifts in the morning with Charity and then went to the airport to collect Eli and Julie who were coming up from DC to bring us even more Christmas cheer.   Julie’s brother and his wife and new baby came up for our big traditional Shumway Christmas Eve dinner.  The kids were over the moon excited by everything going on….and when I say excited, I mean kind of crazy and over the top and bordering on annoying kind of excitement.   It was quite a challenge to get them to sit still to eat or be serious as they acted out the nativity.   In my perfect little planned out world Christmas Eve was supposed to be soft and quite and full of the real meaning of Christmas as we read about Christ's birth in the Bible and let the kids give their gifts out to each other.  We were going to focus on all the most important parts of Christmas, giving and Christ and peace.   Instead, it was a whirlwind.  Get the dinner on the table, time everything just right….. don’t burn the rolls!  Sit still for the prayer! Eat your food!  Don’t jump up on the table!  Please sit and ask our guests some good questions.  Oh, get the towel, more spilled sparkling cider.  Get your presents all in a pile.  Give hugs and say thank you!  Put on your nativity costume.  Please act like a reverent Joseph instead of Michael Jackson.  Just wrap up that napkin in swaddling clothes, I don’t know where the baby doll went. Put on your new pjs.  Lay out cookies and milk, no, we won’t forget the carrot.  Oh, yes, write your little cards to Santa, but do it quick, he’ll be here soon.   Read the Grinch.  Lay in bed.  Don’t get out.  Pack up stockings, drag things up from the basement.  Wrap more gifts. Tidy things up.  Ignore your aching tired body and keep going.  And finally done.  Ahhh. 
Here’s a video that Charity put together (thanks char) that kind of depicts the mood of the night. 
You get the idea.  But somehow, in all that chaos, it was really quite beautiful.  The excitement and the love was even thicker than the chaos.   I think by far my favorite part was watching the kids give presents out to each other.   They worked so hard this year to do chores and earn money to buy Christmas presents.  I helped them to really think hard about what their siblings would really want and like.  And they did.  And they didn’t spend a cent of it on themselves (I wouldn’t let them).   And I know they felt the joy of giving as they handed their presents out to each other.   All the adults focused on each child as they gave out their gifts, praising them for being such good givers (this is something my parents were big on on Christmas eve….focusing on the giver).  Even little Emmeline got the giving part.   She was so pleased with herself as she delivered her dollar store presents that she had picked out.  I was surprised by how well she got it.  I wish I had recorded her little voice as she talked about what she was giving everyone.   I want to just bottle up those moments because I know there will be a time that I’ll ache for them.  IMG_4848   IMG_4857 Hazel saved up to buy Charlie this nutcracker.   He has been coveting hers and mourning the loss of his last one that got broken last year.   He was delighted, but I think she was even happier.  It feels good to give.IMG_4862 IMG_4894 IMG_4899IMG_4866 IMG_4874 IMG_4880 Charity was an awesome angel,  Hazel was a serious Mary and Charlie was a very reluctant Joseph.   Somehow we made it through with only baby Jesus having to be removed (she didn’t really like the manger bed…..I don’t blame her).  IMG_4887 And, as for the work after the kids went down?  Sure it was hard.   We were all working so so hard.   But there’s something kind of wonderful about it,  it’s all laced with anticipation of the magic that’s to come in the morning.  

And I’m only going to get to do that magical santa work for maybe 8 or 9 more years?   I better enjoy it!


  1. There's nothing like the look on Hazel's face when she had safely delivered that hard-earned gift to Charlie. What wonderful pictures. They have been lovingly prepared (beautiful) and it was almost as good as being there. Wish we had one of those fast motion pictures of one of our Christmas mornings when everyone was home. Such fun. So crazy!

  2. Looks like a wonderful, crazy, beautiful Christmas Eve. Thanks Char for that great video...what a great idea. Love you.



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