Our largest concern on Christmas Eve used to be whether we could get all of the gifts assembled between the time the children went to sleep, climbed out of bed, over and over again, and finally went to sleep. There had to be milk, and a bite out of the cookies, and batteries, and we would have to check that the video camera was plugged in and charged. We would open the doors slowly, and pad around the house in our stockings, looking out for the squeaky floorboards.
Now our biggest concern is getting the kids assembled on Christmas Eve. And it is us who are going to sleep, then climbing out of bed to check to see if they are home, again and again, and finally going to sleep. And we only go sleep that last time after they are both in their beds–after they have taken the bites out of the cookies and chugged all the milk and charged up their phones, and opened the doors slowly, sneaking back into the house after a long night out with friends.
It does no good to set an alarm for the morning to try to stay ahead of them. We wake up late, knowing there is no chance that anyone will be sneaking over to the tree and shaking out the stockings. We make Mom’s cinnamon rolls–taking twice as much time as she used to– and even after the rolls are in the oven, the kids are still not awake. Finally, we wander into the rooms and shake them out of bed, apologizing for the intrusion, but there’s a meal to cook and only so much time to open presents before the afternoon.
And it’s wonderful, because we know there’s very little chance we’ll even get to see them at midnight on New Year’s Eve.