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The. Best. Christmas. Ever.

Ok, Christmas morning with a toddler old
enough to understand what’s happening but still young enough
to be wide-eyed and untouched by commercial greed is one of the
coolest things I’ve ever done.

Maddie was dancing in her pjs as she went to bed the night before,
awed by all the happenings: Church at night! How cool is that??
Then there was the careful deliberation for Santa’s treats:
What sort of cookies would Santa want? (She went with the chocolate
crinkles.) And don’t forget carrots for the reindeer, and a
piece of cheese for Santa Mouse. Madeleine took a long time
choosing where the plate went, the right glass for the milk,
everything. We decorated Jesus’ birthday cake for dinner the
next night. We got out our stockings and hung them up. We turned
out the lights and quietly sang “Silent Night” by the
tree, just like we had done hours earlier at church by candlelight.
Then Maddie sped off in her new pjs, our caution ringing in her
ears: “Remember, Santa knows if you’re only pretending
to sleep!”

Christmas morning, my girlie woke up
– I kid you not - humming “Jingle Bells” over and
over again. In an effort to get Cora to sleep through the night,
Brian and I have been banished to the sleeper sofa in the living
room, which meant that we had to get up, put the sofa back
together, return the table and books, and set the stockings up
before we could go get Maddie. She lay in her bed a good fifteen
minutes, patiently humming over and over again, content to rest in
her excitement and anticipation. It was one of the cutest things
I’ve ever lived through.

As soon as her door was open, Maddie was up and out, stumbling
blearily down the hall as she shouted, “I wonder if Santa
came! I wonder if he brought my baby bath care!” The answer
to the second question, alas, was no – Santa had opted to
tell Grandpa and Gramma Sally about the baby bath care and had
instead brought Madeleine –

“A trampoline!” My child literally rubbed her eyes in

And then started bouncing.

Maddie went from joy to joy all day long; not only did she get
chocolate covered Cheerios from Santa, but she was allowed to eat
them RIGHT AWAY! Then more bouncing on the trampoline! Her whole
day was lived in exclamation points!

I never realized people actually do squeal when unwrapping their
gifts, but I witnessed it a few times on Christmas. Maddie was
beside herself opening Nana and Papa’s dollhouse, and
Christmas screeched to a halt while it got set up and tested
properly. She submitted gracefully to a nap, partially secure in
the knowledge that she had more to open later and partially worn
out from the trampoline (heh heh). Because yes, it took us that
long to get to everything. With several big gifts out there, we
didn’t want it to become a conveyer belt of gifts, which
meant that it wasn’t until after her nap that Maddie
unwrapped –

The baby bath care center.

As I told my father later, Madeleine could not have screamed louder
when she saw that thing if you had walked up to her on live
television, handed her a dozen roses, and put a crown on her head.
She was beside herself, in delirious ecstasy, rocking impatiently
back and forth in front of Daddy as he worked frantically to
assemble the thing for her.

Where was Cora in all of this? Good naturedly trying to eat all the
ribbons, much like our cat. Maddie helped Cora unwrap a few things,
but we tried to limit that participation so she’d understand
not everything is hers. A bit overwhelmed by all the stimulation,
Cora needed a few quiet time-outs for naps and down time, but all
in all reveled with us.

Did Maddie get more than she needed? Yep. Did she melt down from
the unexpected chocolate? Nope. She didn’t wake up the next
day demanding more presents, or start acting blasé with all
her old toys, or any of my other fears. She simply had an amazing
time on a really great day, and I am so happy I was a part of that.

Madeleine knows it’ll be time soon to pack away the books and
advent calendar and videos and Christmas decorations, and
she’s ok with that; she said today, “Christmas can be
over. Then it is fun when it comes again!” I know we’re
going to kick our moving preparations into high gear soon but have
enjoyed this little holiday respite. Brian and I stayed low-key on
our own gifts, knowing how expensive this move is going to be and
how recently employed we are.

And truthfully? I didn’t miss the gifts at all. This was my
best Christmas ever, simply experiencing it vicariously through my


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