In a swirl of magic, Santa gently places the stuffed stockings on the end of each bed. The precious children sigh and roll over, completely unaware of the gifts that have been bestowed upon them.
At some point well past midnight, the girls all realized (or I informed them) that their stockings were resting at the foot of their beds. I accidentally awakened Anna checking on her. I often find her perched precariously at the edge of her bed and so when I heard Emily use the bathroom, I crept into Anna's room to check on her.
"Santa has been here. Your stocking's on your bed," I whispered.
All was quiet. And then I thought I heard rustling. I crept back into Anna's room thinking she was opening the presents in her stocking. No. A foot had found the stocking because why would one sleep at the head of the bed. Allie wanted to know what was happening and when I explained how I thought Anna had been opening the gifts in her stocking, Allie big-mouthed whispered, "OH MY GOD." In that moment, it hit me that my children, my little babies, have become so mature. They've always been well behaved but now there's more of an awareness surrounding them. They would never think of rifling through their stockings in the middle of the night, nor would they ever think to tiptoe downstairs to check under the tree. And search for unwrapped presents? No way!
My brothers and I were sneaky, always on a mission to disprove the theory of Santa each and every year. I'm pretty sure that my youngest brother, who was born when I was 7, never had the chance to believe in Santa because of us. We knew where gifts were hidden and how to steal the key to the closet door. We would plot to hide behind one of the living room chairs well after our parents had gone to bed, with the goal of catching "Santa" in the act. That plan was never met with any success as we always fell asleep in our beds. There was a Christmas when one of my brothers snuck downstairs very early in the morning, ripped open all of his presents and somehow gave himself a nosebleed in the process. No one attempted to repeat that trick in future years.
I most remember Christmas afternoons at my grandmother's house, the beach house, that is still in our family. A fire would be roaring in the hearth to ward off the foggy ocean air that covered the neighborhood and I would eagerly anticipate running around with my older cousins. Growing up, my family was on the small side (especially compared to Rich's) and my brothers and I made up half of the kid count. The girls have more cousins on Rich's side of the family than I can count right now but only six from my side. I know how much my girls thoroughly enjoy time with their cousins and they were very excited to get that party started Christmas Day.
I cooked breakfast that morning and we've all come to the conclusion that cinnamon rolls should just be baked as cinnamon rolls. I've tried two different recipes for some sort of cinnamon roll casserole and this last one was too eggy. It was gobbled up though. After I cleaned up the dishes and the kitchen, I moved on to the playroom and the front hall. Before I knew it, two o'clock had arrived along with several of our guests.
My childhood Christmases consisted of big turkey dinners, almost identical to those of Thanksgiving. I insist that we keep the tradition and every year, Rich silently curses me. This year, there was a turkey from my brother's employer that needed to be consumed and so once again we rolled out a big turkey feast, along with stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, gravy and requisite rolls. When all was said and done, I conceded that meal preparation was too hectic (especially as I missed all present exchanges) and that next year we can serve an Italian buffet. I already have the menu planned.