Every year, I dread the days between Christmas and New Year. It feels like the year should be over. You celebrate Christmas, and then BANG, it should be New Year's Eve. But not so. There are a few interminably long days in between where there really isn't anything to celebrate. Everyone is just waiting for the year to end. Christmas, that we've been waiting for all year, is over and gone. And those days from the 26th to today, the 31st, just DRAG.
But this year was different. Actually, this entire Christmas season has been unlike any other I've experienced. It wasn't bad, but it certainly was the most difficult one. Thanks to our friends the Willises, our Christmas was amazing. Words cannot express my gratitude for all they did for us. We went over there on Christmas Eve, leaving the house in a hurry in an attempt to miss the impending snow storm. Unfortunately, in my hurry to get out the door, I grabbed Eva's nebulizer but forgot her asthma medicine, rendering the nebulizer as useless as a mateless sock. We had a wonderful time talking all day and had a delicious feast of gay hens - ahem, I mean game hens - and other yummies for dinner. We did the nativity scene with Eva as Mary, Matthew as an adorable Joseph in a baby blue bathrobe, and Leighton as a cranky, whiny baby Jesus. Oh, and Brian as a donkey, complete with brown socks over his ears, and Melanie and me as angels and shepherds. The traditional opening of Christmas pajamas was made better by the surprise of Eva and Leighton getting pajamas from the Willises. We watched Elf, and I talked to Andrew on the phone, trying not to complain when I found out he wouldn't be home until very late Christmas night. Then Eva's asthma started getting worse. She fell asleep but woke back up at midnight sounding terrible. Having asthma myself, I know how impossible it is to relax when your lungs are closing down. I tried to lay with her to calm her down, but the stress of her asthma attack and Andrew being gone started to get to me. Eva was crying and I was trying to hush her up, seeing as we were a mere few feet from Melanie and Brian's room. A few minutes later, Mel came out and asked if I wanted Brian to give her a blessing. Of course, I did. Leighton woke up crying, so I left Eva in their capable hands and went to feed the baby. I couldn't help but cry as I knelt over the crib. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the Willises, and at the same time, loneliness and a desire for Andrew to be with us. Eva finally fell asleep at about 4am. Followed by Leighton and Eva taking turns waking up throughout the night. It was, hands down, the absolute worst night in my parenting history. Never have my children acted that way, and never have I needed Andrew more in sharing the load.
Fortunately, we woke up to a new day, and Eva's breathing improved markedly. Melanie and Brian again spoiled us by bringing "Santa" for my kids. I didn't even know what to say to thank them - I have never been shown such love and generosity in my entire life. I only hope that one day I can do that for someone else who needs it. The Willises got me through those 2 days and made it feel like Christmas, even without Andrew. I spent most of the day there at their home and then hurried home in the late afternoon to finish cleaning the house before Andrew was to arrive at midnight. The kids were exhausted, so I put them both down early. Then came the fateful phone call - the one that almost did me in mentally and spiritually. Just when I thought I couldn't take one more minute without Andrew, he called to say he was snowed in at the Salt Lake airport and couldn't say when he would make it home. I lost it. I broke down. I said an angry, hopeless prayer of complaining. I cleaned the house anyway, and sadly set out our Santa presents by myself with tears running down my face.
Finally, at 5am on Dec. 26th, Andrew walked in the door. I woke up and, in truth, I have never been so glad to see someone in my life. We spent that day as our own Christmas. The kids were so excited to see him, and Eva was so happy to get her Santa gifts: a new easel, complete with paint, chalk, and a dry erase marker. She spent the next little while coloring with the marker and then erasing it as she said, "Bye bye!" to the lines she had written. We lounged in our pajamas. Andrew set up my awesome gift, which deserves a post of its own. We had a Christmas feast (my second one - I was not good to my thighs this season) and fell asleep early after watching our new "Little Mermaid" DVD. (I broke down and paid $20 for a Disney movie. All in the Christmas spirit.)
Now, suddenly, here we are on December 31st. For the first time on this date I ask, "Where has the time gone?" We have thoroughly enjoyed having Andrew home. We are all going through a bout of the cold and have just spent time at home together, mostly. Reflecting back on our Christmas events, I am reminded of a book my aunt once read to us on Christmas Eve called "The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever." This Christmas was just that - the best and the worst ever. In the end, I got everything I wanted: tradition, time with friends, time with Andrew, seeing my kids happy, and good food. It definitely wasn't all in the way I asked for it, but I guess I can't complain. And there's always next year.