One of my favorite photos each year, is the photo we take of the children right before bed on Christmas Eve night. Wearing their new pajamas, and holding onto their stockings. I love the excitement that is in the air as the (younger) children feel rushed to get to bed and fall asleep before Santa comes. I loved that this year, Drew insisted on breaking from tradition and he and Joshua left their stockings on the family room floor, but the others laid theirs by their bedroom door.
Santa delivered all the full stockings by the bedroom doors as he has every year. Santa always left my stocking on my bed as a child, and my brother and I would spend the first hour of Christmas morning exploring our stocking contents to pass the time until we could wake up my parents. When telling Megan this randomly the other week, I was shocked to realize she never knew she was allowed to look at her stocking before coming into our room!!
Ellie and Megan woke up early and passed time in their room exploring their stockings. I was shocked that Mike and I didn't hear them.
Drew emptied his entire stocking out on our bedroom floor and in a heartbroken voice said, "Santa didn't bring me a fire engine." It wasn't bratty, or self-deserving, it was simply an expression of disappointment that the one thing he talked about all month long wasn't there on Christmas morning. I suggested that maybe Santa left a few things downstairs too.
Santa doesn't wrap presents at our house. He puts the gifts inside bags that I sewed a few years ago. As the children unfolded the bags on Christmas Eve, Luke took the one he claims each year and placed it in a specific spot. Other children began doing likewise. I suggested Santa might not remember whose bag was whose, and to be surprised with any bag. Apparently no one liked my idea, and the bags were laid out with a nametag placed on each one, and a note to Santa from Luke asking him to please read the tags and place the presents accordingly. (Why oh why didn't I take a photo of the tags/note?)
Typically, Santa leaves one small gift outside the bag to identify whose bag it belongs to. It didn't quite work out that way this year...too many over-sized gifts. But I was quite relieved that Drew's precious desire of a toy fire engine was the first thing he saw upon entering the family room.
He played with it for HOURS much to Mike's dismay. Drew hadn't even taken ownership of it for more than 5 minutes before Mike said, "Santa obviously doesn't know me very well, or he would not have brought such an annoying, loud toy." I, on the other hand, found myself smiling every single time those fire engine buttons elicited sirens and wails. I said aloud more than once, "Those sounds make me smile." Drew looked up at me and asked, "Do you love fire engines too?" "No!" I replied, "But I love little boys that love them."
I think my love of fire engine sounds was intensified as I looked at Megan and Luke enjoying their new Christmas surprises and realized how quickly they have moved on from toys on Christmas morning.
Joshua spent much of Christmas Day dressed like this. Joshua's wish of a Packers jersey was granted, and the bonus of a Packers helmet was thrilling to this little football lover.
Ellie's squeal and excitement over receiving a new American Girl doll was caught on video, but not the still camera. The doll bunk-bed serves her and her two American Girl dolls quite nicely. This is the second year in a row Ellie has opted to ask Santa for "a surprise" rather than a specific item. It seems Santa has not disappointed.
(Nice that my mother-in-law captured a photo of Ellie and her new doll. Oops that I didn't!)
Luke received a fair number of Packers items too, and I guess photographing him wearing them is more appealing than a photo of him holding a new power tool he received. (That elicited an exciting loud noise similar to the sound that came from Ellie.) Luke immediately organizes his Christmas things in a nice orderly fashion. He has done this every year for years. He always claims the exact same spot in the family room.
(Hooray again for my mother-in-law for taking photos.)
I'm not going to allow myself to feel guilty for there being very few photos of Megan on Christmas morning. She, the child with more photo albums of her first 3 years of life than the other 4 children combined, will turn out just fine despite the fact the only decent photo we have of her on Christmas day is courtesy of... my mother-in-law.
The children spent much of the day playing together, with the exception of Drew who tended to rarely be separated from that
darn fire engine and its buttons.
As I laid in bed on Christmas Eve night trying to fall asleep, I had an overwhelming urge to go and kiss each of my sleeping children goodnight. I didn't want to risk awakening them, and instead stayed in bed tossing and turning. As I reflected on the stresses of secrecy and hiding of the previous days, I basked in the fact that for another year, my children are young, believing, and all at home.
It IS a wonderful time of year.
It IS a wonderful time of year.