better than expected

Phew. Christmas is over. Is it bad I was looking forward to the day after? Maybe I just needed a good dose of ‘pull up your big girl pants and get through it.’ Because that’s what ultimately happened and you know what? It didn’t suck. Not at all.

We had a late Christmas Eve service this year. It started at 11 and I was on deck to sing. Which. Did you know that at 11 at night your voice is pretty tired from a day of shopping and crying and wrapping and practicing your song? Well, it was getting a little horsey and I was getting a little worried that I was going to #fail. But, it actually went okay and the service itself was great. We didn’t get home until just after midnight so I fell asleep on the chair while Santa visited. *wink wink* When I woke up, the scene looked like this.

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It was a beautiful sight and I had trouble settling back in knowing Santa had been in my house so it wasn’t until two-ish that I finally saw dancing sugarplums. Right around 4:57 (or exactly at, rather), my phone rang. ‘Mom, Santa came here! And he didn’t leave anything in my dad’s stocking.’ I could muster, ‘Uh oh.’ And a smile. Because, seriously. How sweet? My almost nine-year-old was likely more excited this Christmas than any other about Santa’s visit. We’d even received a letter back from his elves in Indiana the day prior and he was just full of the magic.

When we hung up, I promptly fell back asleep. I woke again to a text from Connor’s dad asking what time breakfast was. They came by at 7:30 and we had waffles and hard-boiled eggs before Connor opened his gifts. He was pretty pleased with Santa’s choices at our house and especially loved his authentic shark teeth. Yay for Craigslist randomness.

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When CJ finished opening, we FaceTime’d (is that the appropriate verb?) with Grandma for a few minutes and learned they were going to visit Grandma Lowman. We decided that would be a treat so we got ready and headed that way. What a special visit. Grandma was also blessed with a fair number of gifts from family and staff at the medical facility she calls home. Thankfully, my dad was able to lure her out of bed. Apparently, she was up late waiting on Santa as well. I think the most special moment was watching her chat with her daughter, Kathy, from Texas on FaceTime. When she finally figured out it was time to have a conversation with Kathy’s face in a box, she said, ‘Do you remember when I used to send you those cards?’ Kathy was already in tears and she said, ‘Yes, Mom, I do.’ We don’t get that many moments of clarity with her so it was bittersweet. She finished with an ‘I love you.’ and my dad wiped his tears as well. It was a good visit.

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When I dropped Connor off at his dad’s so he could enjoy yet another Christmas, I headed out for a walk. With a brown Christmas, it was easy and the air was just perfect for it. I’ve gotten used to some amount of alone time on the holidays and it’s become okay. It still feels awkward but I find ways to pass the time and as soon as I knew it, it was time to head towards my parents’ for Christmas dinner with them. I grabbed Connor along the way and we started with the Christmas story (the real one) read by my favorite 18-year-old niece. Normally, all of the kids read it but my dad really wanted her to read it this time given this is sort of her last Christmas as a ‘kid’. It’s okay, Nikki. No more tears!

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We opened gifts and I was able to play the part of Santa this year since dad has a bum leg and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to give the gifts. Giving’s my favorite.

We enjoyed a fantastic meal as a family + one (more to come on the special one; no, it’s not the guy that made the ‘I love Stacy’ sign by the highway) and a crazy amount of laughter cleaning up. Yep, we love doing the dishes together. So.much.closeness.

Actually, my cheeks hurt by the end of the night and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the gifts I’d received that day. Time with my son. A walk outside. The story of the birth of Jesus with family. Santa duties. Too.much.food. Inappropriate amounts of laughter. Love. So.much.love.

But, outside of the birth of our Savior, this right here, was my favorite gift of the day. Seeing this young man who is hanging on to the sweetness of childhood magic (don’t let go, Connor!) but also showing his maturity by understanding the true reason we celebrate was my gift. That, and I got a slow cooker. I’m just not sure the day could have gone much better.

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