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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Morning Wake Up Call

Christmas is my favorite holiday. The music, the baking, giving and receiving presents, parties and good food, getting together with family and friends. My family and I (okay, mostly “I”) have several traditions we’ve kept since my girls were little. Some might say I’m a little anal. I shudder at “controlling”. I like to think of it as making the most of every moment. Of finding comfort in routine and remembering times past, where we were when we did the same thing ten years ago, five years ago. Enjoying every single moment with my family.

Each year we make gingerbread houses from scratch. Sometimes we make gingerbread neighborhoods, complete with a frozen pond in the center, with each of us creating our own home. One year we had a gingerbread small town downtown with a dance studio, beauty salon and city hall. It’s a lot of work, but we enjoy spending the time together, not to mention the sweets we snack on while we’re baking and building.

Christmas Eve we attend mass together, then afterwards we take a leisurely drive through area neighborhoods singing carols in the car and admiring the lights and decorations. My girls are always chomping at the bit to open a present before bed. Me, I’m all for anticipation, the buildup to the big day, the excitement of finding out what’s under the tree on Christmas morning. But, being a softie, I gave in years ago and we open one present Christmas Eve. For years everyone selected their present. Now we’ve started another tradition- Christmas pajamas. We all still unwrap a gift on Christmas Eve, but my girls expect it to be their Christmas pjs. No surprises, but we know we’ll be comfy while we sleep and wait for Santa.

Before bed we read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Christmas Story. We’ll sing “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” while one of the girls places baby Jesus in the manger. It’s been empty all season while we awaited His arrival. Tonight’s His big night. Thanks to Him and Santa, tomorrow will be a marvelous day.

Christmas morning turns into a free-for-all, but we start off in an orderly fashion. When my girls were younger, they came to wake my husband and me up as soon as their eyes popped open. We’d run to get the cameras, holler when we were ready, and then, as then raced into the living room, we’d start snapping away in an attempt to capture their joy on film. As my girls grew older, we’d all decide on a time to wake up. The older one wanted to sleep in, the younger one couldn’t wait to see what Santa had snuck under the tree. We’d compromise on a wakeup time, after much haggling, then hit the sack.

It was during one of these “wake up time haggling” years that we experienced one of our sweetest holiday moments. We’d traveled to Key West to spend the holidays with my parents and younger brother. He’d given up his room for my family—all 5 of in one double bed and an air mattress. Before bed we had settled on an 8 am rally the troops timeframe.

Of course, one of the girls woke up before the sun rose to ask the time. This woke up another, followed by the third. My husband mumbled that it wasn’t quite 5 am. The girls groaned, but quieted, sharing the occasional whisper for several minutes.

Just as they settled down, we heard movement in the kitchen. A cabinet door opened, dishes rattled, the oven beeped, the faucet splashed water. Gasps of shock reverberated through our room. Tension and suspense blanketed us.

I froze, waiting, hoping the girls would go back to sleep and ignore the noise. I knew it was mom putting the Puerto Rican pork in the oven, and I had three hours of sleep ahead of me. Not to mention I’d been up late finalizing the Santa preparations. Those three hours were sounding pretty good right about then.

A hush settled around us. My eyes drifted closed. Sweet slumber gently beckoned.
Suddenly my four- year old’s whisper broke the silence. “Oh my gosh, Santa’s washing the dishes for us.”

A beat of hushed awe replied before the rest of us broke into guffaws of laughter. I can’t even tell you if we woke up for good, or if we settled back down for a little more shut eye. I’m sure my girls remember. As I’ve aged my memory has become selective. I like to think it doesn’t matter whether we went to sleep or hung out in our room until everyone else was awake.

What I do remember is laughing with my girls and my husband in the dark, surrounded by love, joy and the anticipation of good things to come.


At 10:38 AM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Pris -
LOL - that is so cute about Santa doing the dishes. I love reliving that morning as a kid through your story. I can remember my parents always looking tired and none of us (5 kids so you know how much work they'd gone through all night) ever understood how our parents were so tired that day.

When you mentioned your mom making a Puerto Rican roast - do you have a recipe for boliche? That would make a great holiday meal and I haven't had it in years.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Very cute, heart warming story, Pris.

That was a great time when the kids were small and so excited. We all sleep in now...

I love Christmas though...and the lights and music and all of it!

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I enjoyed your story, too. So funny about your daughter thinking Santa was doing the dishes!

Your memories reminded me of how Christmas was when I was a teenager. My brother, being almost 7 years younger wanted to open presents at the crack of dawn. None of us girls (all teenagers) wanted to get out of bed to open them. I'm not sure how long it took him and my parents to get us moving--but I do know it was never fast enough to suit him! :) Now when all of us girls were small, my older sister Kathy found a surefire way to get my parents up. We weren't allowed to go downstairs until Mom and Dad were ready. We would flush the toilet repeatedly. Mom would think someone was sick and would come check.

I love midnight mass, too, Pris!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Pris, what a great story and a wonderful memory. You reminded me of hearing my parents downstairs on Christmas eve- a lot of grunting and scraping. They were dragging in desks that they'd bought for my sister and me, one of my favorite Christmas presents--in fact, that might have been the year Snoopy knocked down the Christmas tree!

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Dianna, I don't have recipe for boliche, but I can check with my mom to see if she does. I'll let you know as soon as I hear back.

I enjoying reliving fun times with my girls. Even now, when my oldest is a freshman in college, they still get giddy opening presents, and they still have fun coming up with ideas for gingerbread houses. I hope they never outgrow that. :-)

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

What a great story, Pris! What a sweet memory.

I remember the year Santa made the mistake of getting bicycles for all three of us! We were 5, 8 and 11 at the time. We lived in England. It was freezing cold. My poor Dad was up until 5 AM putting those bikes together. My Mom said she never laughed so much in her life and my Dad never cussed so much in his life. They went to bed at 5 and we woke them up at 6! We raced downstairs and saw all of our loot and had a ball! Dad promised we could go outside and ride our bikes AFTER Christmas dinner. What he didn't know was that while we prepared and ate that Christmas dinner it snowed about two feet! We didn't get to ride those bikes for days. Poor Dad!

The funniest Christmas was when my youngest brother was 3 and shot my Dad with the stopper gun from his Batman utility belt and knocked Dad out cold. My poor brother was so traumatized! He thought he'd killed Dad!

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Pris, what a precious memory!


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