Sunday, January 08, 2017

Magical Christmas 2016

Christmas is over. And it was as magical as we could have hoped.

WHEW.

This fall, I was so afraid that Lucia wouldn’t believe in Santa for this Christmas. She’s in a class with first and second graders, and I was dreading a precocious kid talking too much on the playground. But I needn’t have feared. Her belief in Santa was as strong as ever. Still, these Santa years are few. It’s important to me to make them magical. Our kiddos deserve nothing less.

We drove to Connellsville on December 23 and began our Christmas adventure. Molly and Luca were there, and Christmas Eve was a whirlwind of playing and excitement. We went to church in the late afternoon and sat up in the choir loft, which I hadn’t done for years and years. I brought Christmas coloring books and crayons for the long wait for Mass to begin; but once it did, Lucia and Greta were both interested in watching the people in the pews down below. And Lucia was very excited to be able to say the Our Father (thanks, CCD).

After church, we drove to see a giant Christmas light display in South Connellsville, then went on to the Orlando Christmas Eve party. It was a great time, especially when Santa made his appearance--Lucia, Greta, and Luca were mesmerized. Santa was real to them. So real. They got small presents from him and gave him many, many hugs. And then it was time to go home and get to bed so Santa could come.

The kids did go to sleep, with Lucia vowing to get up in the wee hours to go downstairs to “take a peek” at what Santa brought. In our family we don’t wrap Santa gifts: never have, never will. Christmas morning is a grand, magical display--gifts laid out in the night, waiting. Molly and I always snuck downstairs in the middle of the night, and we were excited to let our kids carry on that tradition. To my surprise, Lucia did actually wake up at 4:30am, and, as agreed, she woke up Greta and Luca and they all (with me and Molly) crept downstairs for a peek. Then I hustled the girls back to bed, where they (incredibly) went back to sleep until the decent hour of 7am. (Not so for Luca, who couldn’t be coerced back to bed.)

And then--Christmas. The kids examined their gifts and stockings, and then we opened all the gifts from one another. Lucia and Greta were over the moon at their presents. Highlights: Calico Critter houses from Santa; giant Shopkins watermelon slices from Gra and Pop-Pop; Calico Critter hamster families from Molly. After the gift-opening frenzy, the kids took their new gingerbread-man bouncy balls ($1 from the Target dollar bins, for the win) outside to play.

Christmas dinner, of course delicious, took an unusual turn after we ate. The kids went outside to play, and Molly brought out a latex alpaca mask she’d gotten for Luca. She and I took turns putting it on, adding a jaunty infinity scarf, and the effect was bizarre and hilarious. We all became hysterical, crying-laughing. The hilarity took a dark turn when Luca came inside to announce that Greta had fallen off a four-foot wall. We ran outside. Greta was unhurt physically but was backing down the street, crying and terrified, wailing that she was scared. I got her inside and calmed her down enough to get her to say what she was scared of--and it was Molly. I think she’d glimpsed Molly in the alpaca mask through the front door and her flight reaction kicked in. We’ll never know for sure.

I hesitate to even include a picture of us wearing this mask. It was just so strange and funny. No one can possibly understand exactly how hilarious this was.

The kids played with their things for the rest of the day. Dad read Morris’s Disappearing Bag to the kids out on the sidewalk while they ate Honey Nut Cheerios. Uncle Don visited later in the evening. And then Christmas was over. Magical and wonderful. And we still had the whole week of vacation ahead.

On December 26, we opened our homemade gifts--these always deserve more attention than they can get during the crazy Christmas present-opening. This year: fleece hats from Mom; Christmas village houses from Dad; dot-painted folk art from Molly; cork reindeer from Andrew; and Littlest Snowman light-up shadow boxes with dyed bottle-brush trees from me. For the kids: Molly made crystal-and-dolphin necklaces for the girls, and I made all the kids yarn-wrapped pom-pom pens. All delightful.

Molly and Luca left later that day, but the rest of us had more adventures in store. We all went to see Moana (the girls’ second time), and we had dinner at Bud Murphy’s. We went to Pittsburgh to see the Christmas lights and displays at Phipps, then had dinner at Eat N’ Park. Andrew and I got in a Gabe’s trip and went to look at a rental property for sale. We made a stop at Rural King to buy hand-warmers and heard squealing when we were in the checkout lane--”Might be those pigs again,” the cashier observed. “People brought in them pigs last week.” When Mom and Dad had a wedding reception on Friday in WV, Andrew and I took the girls snow tubing at Seven Springs. They loved it. Lucia went down twice all by herself. Greta was so mad at us for not letting her go down by herself that she began furiously waving her hands at us, which we all now refer to as “crab hands” (since her hands looked like the giant waving claws of the big crab in Moana).

When we weren’t out having adventures, we had lots of fun at home. L&G printed out Hello Kitty pictures to color, took photos with old iPhones, played with their new stuff, read Berenstain Bears books with Gra, ate cookies. Hands down, the highlight of Lucia’s Christmas was playing the square game with Pop-Pop (they played nearly 100 games, keeping a running tally of wins). And on the day we left, Pop-Pop got out a slew of travel size shampoos and soaps and had the girls making potions in the bathroom sink. They were beside themselves with happiness and fun.

On New Year’s Eve, Andrew, Lucia, Greta, and I went to Pittsburgh to hang out with the usual group of college friends. L&G had an amazing time playing with the older girls--they didn’t want to leave, but we headed home around 9pm, put them to bed, and watched the ball drop with Mom, Dad, and bacon-wrapped dates.

Our week was everything it could possibly have been. What a magical Christmas.




At Phipps



Greta's Rudolph drawing for Santa

Lucia's note for Santa

Lucia, 7, holding a stuffed lion I got for Christmas when I was 7.

Lucia and Pop-Pop playing the square game

Snow tubing at Seven Springs

Homemade gifts


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