It won't be the last time. My dad summed it up well as he left after dinner saying, "This is probably my favorite Christmas tradition." I heard the same thing from several others, and like I said last year, one day when we look back at Christmases past, Christmas Eve dinners around our dining room table will likely stand out. I need to remember that during late afternoon preparations on future Christmas Eves when my children are excited about it being Christmas, and I'm feeling tired and exhausted.
All in all, the kids and Mike were great to all work together to get ready for the dinner, and without being asked everyone knew to go put on their best dress clothes for dinner.
Even Drew! He looked so smartly dressed in his best clothes ready for everyone to arrive. He didn't fight once about having to "put on my church croffes?" Mike was still getting dressed upstairs while I did some food preparations downstairs. Apparently, Mike had instructed Drew to lay on our bed and relax, in an effort to keep children calm as the excitement of Christmas Eve waxed on. I didn't know of Mike's instructions and so thought nothing of it when Drew appeared in the family room and began listening to Ellie reading a Christmas book to Joshua. I'm not sure what exactly happened next, but the next thing I know Drew had a nosebleed unlike a nose bleed I have ever seen.
While the potatoes boiled over, and the timer beeped on the oven, I stood balancing blood in my hand, and trying to make sure Ellie and Joshua didn't step in the tracks of blood across the floor. I hollered for help, and Mike and Megan arrived promptly. Megan began getting queasy as soon as I asked her for some assistance, so she instead began cooking gravy while Mike took over with Drew, and I began cleaning up blood.
Fifteen minutes later, our guests began arriving and the only sign of a brotherly quarrel was Joshua upstairs trying not to cry, and Drew in his new pajamas-and his once ironed and pristine white shirt, and sweater vest soaking in a sink full of cold water upstairs.
It's a memory I told Joshua we'll always have, and even though he really shouldn't squeeze Drew so tight that he causes a nose bleed, all was well and at least it wasn't like the Christmas Eve in 1989 when my brother James had to go to the ER for stitches because of his older brother Casey.
Joshua's tender heart felt badly about the whole thing. Even though he was being mean and rough, he certainly didn't mean to hurt Drew. Joshua moved on from the incident fairly quickly, helped by the fact HE was the winner of the quarter in the dessert, and became the proud owner of the new, crisp $5.00 bill.
It made me smile. Joshua had announced earlier in the day, "Oh I hope I win the money tonight. Then I will have sixteen dollars."
(We warn the children ahead of time there may be a quarter in their dessert and so to eat it carefully. I think it concerned Joshua that he may actually swallow the quarter... looks to me like he dug around in his bowl to see if he had it. Thus the dirty hands.")