Wednesday, January 07, 2015


We had a really fun Christmas this year. Both Lucia and Greta were incredibly excited about Santa Claus, and we even made out lists to mail to the North Pole (courtesy of a local shop with a “Santa” mailbox outside). Andrew and I were excited for a different reason: we were heading to Connellsville for nearly two weeks, which meant a blissful escape from frozen/boxed food and an increasingly dirty, chaotic, unpleasant, renovation-inundated home.

Molly and Luca were in Connellsville with us for the first week, and Luca, Greta, and Lucia happily played together, running around the house, piling into beds, screaming “Snowman!” and dashing around manically. They all enjoyed watching Rudolph, accompanied by popcorn and hot chocolate. We left all the kids with Mom and Dad to go Gabe’s shopping, where Molly and I brought home a wonderful haul reminiscent of the Gabe’s of yore: among much else, we both got $200 Seven for All Mankind pants for $3, and Molly got a shirt for 50 cents. Andrew, too, got a bag or two, including $12 snow boots and a bunch of $3 ties.

Molly had bought little mailboxes at the dollar store, and each day left a tiny, handmade Christmas treasure inside: snowmen, Christmas stones, small notebooks with covers made from playing cards. Lucia, in particular, anticipated her daily “mail” with great excitement.

On Christmas Eve, we joined the annual Orlando party, with an appearance by Santa, who brought Lucia and Greta each a plush Rudolph purse, and Luca a plush snow monster from the show. (The back story of these toys deserves a note: the girls’ interest in Rudolph appeared just a few days before Christmas, along with their fervent wish for Santa to bring them a Rudolph doll, which, of course, was nowhere to be found that late in the season; I found one at our Target, and then called every Target along our rote from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to find another one, finally securing one in Mechanicsburg; Luca was besotted by the snow monster the day before Christmas Eve, and I steered Molly to a Connellsville Rite Aid to try to find one, where, lo and behold, there was one snow monster on an otherwise empty shelf, for 50% off—a Christmas miracle, surely.) The kids all had fun at the party, mostly playing out on the sun porch.

And then Christmas morning arrived, with all the splendor of the day—the Santa gifts laid out on chairs for each child, piles of presents to open, an enormous, delicious Christmas dinner. The day slipped by happily, with no meltdowns or problems; and the kids all seemed to love their gifts. The biggest hits for Lucia and Greta were their Strawberry Shortcake dolls (they each got three); Anna dresses; plush Anna, Elsa, and Olaf (the Olafs were from Gra and Pop-Pop); necklaces; a marble run, and Lego Friends sets. They also got Magna Tiles, Keva planks, Elsa dress-up shoes, kinetic sand, art supplies, giant teddy bears (from Uncle Don and Aunt Joanie), and so much more. The three kids came together to play with their sticky wall-climbing ninjas from Santa (Molly), throwing them against the wall and screaming as they slimed their way down.

It was all great fun, and a memorable Christmas all around. And it was funny: even though I was the one who planned what to get the girls; even though I was the one who bought the gifts, sometimes going to ridiculous lengths to find the must-haves (Mom and Dad might never forgive me for all the urgent quests I sent them on); and even though I was the one who arranged the gifts on the girls’ chairs, and stuffed the tiny treasures into their stockings; I still felt a giddiness as I followed them downstairs in their little fleece nightgowns on Christmas morning, as excited as they were to see what Santa had brought them.

Wearing new aprons from Grandma

Rudolph toys

Grandma, Lucia with new toys, and Greta, who seems to have forgotten how to smile on demand

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