The kids were so excited that I wasn't sure they'd ever fall asleep. Isn't that always the case on Christmas Eve?
Our "Elf on the Shelf" was hidden in his sneakiest hiding spot yet... inside the air vent on the ceiling! The kids got a kick out of that! Jason had to unscrew the vent cover to get him in there. And yeah, our elf is a "fake" but my kids don't know the difference.
My sweet friend Roxanne sent me a little note with this Starbucks ornament. It said "There are a lot of symbols that could be used to summarize 2010 for you, but I'm sure that this is one of them." Oh, how right you are, my dear. We may be 3,000 miles apart, but I could feel that hug across the country. What a way to make me smile! And she's totally right. Starbucks does pretty well sum up 2010 for me.
Even though the kids were sick, we still made cookies for Santa. (Sorry, Santa! I hope you don't get the stomach bug!) Joshua had a lot of green sprinkles on his cookie. Ask me how I know.
There were definitely less presents under the tree than in previous years, but it actually felt good. At first I worried that the kids would be disappointed, but they said it was the best Christmas ever, so I think we did ok. See? Less really is more.
Nine stockings (one for our dog too) hung near our Christmas tree waiting to be filled. And at 2:30am on Christmas morning, Matthew burst into our bedroom to tell us that Santa had come. Matthew had already crept downstairs to sneak a peek. It's a good thing Santa had already left or there could have been trouble!
We sent Matthew back to bed because 2:30am is just too early. He was back in at 3, and again at 4:30, before finally falling asleep again. At 6am we let everyone get up. Matthew and Joshua woke all of the other kids and scared Nathan and Ryan when they went into their room in the dark. Joshua had given me a special Christmas gift sometime during the night and I got to change his sheets and clean his bed. I don't think the stomach flu takes a holiday.
Matthew found "coal" in his stocking and was not a bit surprised. The "coal" was actually soap and Matthew did find a little bag of goodies that Santa had left near the stockings. I am pretty sure the message was clear: Behave next year! We're really struggling to help Matthew get along with his siblings and he's had a rough year in many ways. Fortunately, he loves the coal soap.
One of the best gifts the kids received was a homemade gift from Jason's sister and her family. She made coloring books for Nathan and Ryan, using printed images and binding them in a folder. It was personalized and it had their favorite characters (Mario & Luigi) so they were thrilled. All six kids have spent hours coloring in it over the last 2 days. It makes me smile to see them take pleasure in such a simple, thoughtful gift!
In a flurry of tissue paper, it was all over. The living room was trashed and after picking up the paper for recycling, all that remained was scattered candy. Really, there was candy everywhere!
Everything has settled down now. I'm sad that we couldn't go to church this Christmas. I'm jealous that everyone else is getting snow and we only have our usual rain, rain, and more rain. I miss seeing family at this time of year. I'm nervous to start another year... never knowing what the Army has in store for us. (Jason's unit is scheduled to deploy again in early 2012 but he will probably be headed to school instead.) Life is still crazy here, Christmas or not. I washed six loads of laundry on Christmas Day. I have probably washed close to 60 loads in the last week.
Despite the illness, despite the distance from our family and friends, and despite the rain, this was a wonderful Christmas. I got the best gift. My soldier is home with us, where he belongs. What more could I want?