Christmas Memories: Christmas Eve
This year, Christmas was every adjective you could think of to describe Christmas--the good ones and the bad ones. I felt it coming like a steamroller, impervious to my feelings, desires, or dreams concerning what I consider to be a good, appropriate and somewhat restful Christmas for my family. I made a few last-ditch efforts in an attempt to maintain some of the sanctity of Christmas and sanity of myself only to regret those decisions to cut out and skip over people and places. All the edits without any noticeable reduction in "complication" or exhaustion levels (complicated and exhausting in a GOOD way, of course) were, in hindsight, probably not my best decision. I'm not consumed with thoughts of how it should have been or what I would have done differently, so in case you were rushing over to share your latest prescription with me, know that I did manage to cope and have successfully moved on. I'm just telling you how it was.
Just because all of the Christmas fanfare rivaled that of the idea of "chaos" personified in the Old Testament, it's not to say that there weren't some wonderful, enjoyable, precious memories made. On Christmas Eve I got to meet the new born baby of one of my best friends. There's just something about those tiny, scream-y little creatures that gets your endorphins flowing. We talked and ate and oohed and aahed (while Spencer napped at home). It was at once festive and restful. It was great.
That evening we took Spencer to our church's Christmas Eve service. Let's just say that I was relieved to hear that people seated around us were amused as opposed to outraged. I'm a huge proponent of children attending adult worship services, in theory. And this particular service was intended for families, including babies and screaming toddlers; but there's a fine line between a child-affirming congregation who overlooks the periodic outbursts and enjoys the wiggly, spazziness of a toddler and your impossible, thrashing two year-old who will be calmed by neither milk, nor cookies, nor coloring, nor cell phones, nor digital cameras--who can out-wrestle you while simultaneously kicking his shoes off and pulling your shirt down truly disrupting things to the point of absurdity. And that's just the part of the service when he was behaving. So after the singing and the wrestling, the screaming and the thwarted attempts at eating his candle, we headed on home.
After muscling through an hour-long period of any type, you need a little sustenance; and I know no food so sustaining and delicious as my mom's Sausage Breakfast Casserole. You need to pause and just think about the deliciousness, because it's basically irreverent not to. Please don't take offense if you have served me a breakfast casserole in the past, but compared to this one all of those other ones pretty much fall into the disgusting category. Again, I'm sorry. You know I'm not a "controversial topics" blogger, but I have to stick to my guns on this one. This is the only one worth cooking or eating. So we did both.
Spencer played with his grandparents, particularly drawn to the one who had announced having a cold and intending to stay away from Spencer as much as possible, with specifically mentioning the goal of staying out of his face. Since Spencer says so little right now, I still catch myself operating under the (false) assumption that he doesn't understand a lot of what the "adults" in his life are talking about--particularly when we are talking to each other. But he heard that conversation as a challenge to get as much face-time as possible from the infected grandparent. It wasn't just me who thought so. In fact, I was in the kitchen cooking and they were in the living room talking amongst themselves about how he was acting and doing things he never does in a typical evening of entertaining the grandparents. He was determined to play with the one who'd declared "no playing tonight." He got his way but got no cold, so it's a funny story.
I'd settled on "Happy Birthday, Jesus" brownies as opposed to cake because we have a myriad of December birthdays in my family, and so for us cake can get over done. And who doesn't love some Christmas Eve brownies? Unfortunately, Spencer spotted those before dinner, and threw a fit every time I stopped him from climbing onto the kitchen counter to eat them. It did put a little bit of a damper on the festivities. The diversion that finally saved the day was the lighted Advent wreath candles and getting to "help" blow out the birthday candles after we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. I tried to stress that we were singing to Jesus (and that Spencer wasn't Him--a life lesson for all of us). After getting though all of the red tape, we reached Spencer's favorite portion of the evening, that of eating the brownies. And if you'll simply superimpose all of that action over a none-too poetic but nonetheless entertaining and somewhat theologically edifying double feature of the Veggie Tales' "The Story of St. Nicholas" playing in the background you have a pretty accurate description of our little family's Christmas Eve 2010--that and Spencer screaming through his compulsory bath.