Organized Christmas

For those of you who were faithfully waiting up late for my weekly post last Sunday (all two of you); firstly (to be polite) I offer my profound apologies, secondly (to be honest) you may want to think about taking up a hobby. Come on, it was practically Christmas Eve, and Father Christmas had a lot to assemble. Have a little sympathy for me.

Christmas morningThis year we had a very special surprise for Christmas, Wife got morning sickness. Yes, you read correctly. We are expecting a new baby. And I do mean “we” very liberally, really Wife is doing all the heavy lifting. Come late next year (September) we will welcome another member to the family who will be named, predictably, #8.

The blessing of another child is simply unparalleled, and never gets old. It seems fitting that we should learn about our good news just before the day celebrating the birth of the Good News itself. Needless to say (though I will anyway) the whole family is looking forward to the new baby.

When I was a boy, Christmas morning was a mayhem that started at about 4:00am. Wife claims her Christmases were completely organized (something I doubted until recently). Wife has so subdued my Christmas that I have felt the urge to get a cup of coffee in the middle of it. We do it something like this:

#1 opens a gift, picked by her mother. After the gift is opened, “Show it to me. Very nice. Give it to your father to open for you. Now everyone pick up the wrapping paper.”

plastic knightsAnd the formula is repeated down the line until all the presents are opened one at a time. The first time Wife attempted this, I nearly pulled my hair out, which in turn resulted in a Christmas day blowout.

We have come a long way from that first Christmas, just me, her, and her pregnancy. The children conform nicely to her conceptions of the Holiday. They patiently bounce up and down around the tree like a kind of cross between a bunny rabbit and a vulture. When their turn comes they swoop down to ravage the paper and then bounce away with their prize.

I can claim one total victory with the Christmas day customs. The children decide when we start opening up the gifts, or at least when they wake up and wake up the house hold, then we start. That was my Christmas boyhood memories: waking up at 4:00 in the morning, waking up the other kids, and finally waking up my parents. Now my children do the same.

Christmas morning little voices whispered at our door until Wife and I were awake. I rolled over to open my bleary eyes at the face of the alarm clock. It was 3:30am. At this point I started to wonder about the custom I had insisted on in my inexperienced youth.opening presents

Daddy so Stwong

Nothing spells rest on a long weekend like yard work; and I do mean nothing. I’m sure many of you reading this do the same thing; look forward to the extended holiday for rest… and spend most of it working harder than you normally would at the workplace. No exceptions here. I spent the last couple of days clearing the front yard for some large projects we are planning on.

One of the tasks I set before myself (something I do all too often) was to move a metal shed from one corner of the yard to another. Despite how heavy that sounds, with four brothers and my dad it moved quite easily. The only real danger was getting tripped by a child.

After the shed was set back down the kids swarmed around it as if they had never seen it before. I found myself encumbered by #3 clinging to my leg with admiration in her big blue eyes. “Daddy, you so stwong,” she lisped, as I tried to kick her off.

I didn’t think of what she said then, but for some reason I did later. It’s easy to dismiss children, especially when I have more work to accomplish and all she did was state the simple truth. I am strong. I could lift with one arm more than all my children combined could. But, it is the simple truth that made her statement endearing.

Little #3 acknowledged and admired my strength for no other reason than to make sure I knew it. In short, to show her love for me in the most honest way she knew how. As a father, I could not think of anything I would want from my children more than that.

She made me stop and think; that’s all Our Father in Heaven wants from us. We need to cling to His leg and announce to the world how good He is. Not that God does not know how great He is, I think He just wants His children to say it and rely on His strength.

Taking a leaf out of my little girl’s book, I turned my eyes skyward and said, “Father, you are so stwong, tanks.”

Giving Thanks

In thinking about this week’s post I could write about the many blessings I am thankful for. I could talk about the abundant gratefulness I owe to our Lord Jesus. I could list all the people, starting with my mother and ending with my wife, whom I am thankful to. Or, I could name all the ways I am appreciative of my beloved Wife.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving Day, I will do none of the above. Instead, I shall recall what my children were most thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, the gift of staying up really, really late. Allow me to elaborate… as if you didn’t see that coming.

The night was young after a long day of hearty meals and energetic games. After spending the day at the family park with grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunts, great-uncles and great-aunts, cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed… and if you feel a little tired after reading all that, you understand just how I felt. So tell me why, oh why did the children not feel that exhaustion?

Maybe they found their renewed energy in the catnap they took on the drive over to my in-laws. Maybe they were flying high as kites on pumpkin bread. Whether naps or carbohydrates, these loving little faces would not tire out. Believe me, I asked them repeatedly.

If I were to be honest, I was tired after the first Thanksgiving Day meal, but the second one put me right over the edge to nodding off (which can be quite rude depending on who I could be talking to). I know the kids ate the same meals I did. Between myself and my children I think we ate an entire turkey that day. But I was struggling to stay awake, while the kids would not sleep… I believe out of sheer will power.

I know #6 needed to sleep desperately; he just did not know it or flat refused to acknowledge it. He fussed and cried, but just try to lay him down… no luck. Every time I thought he was asleep, two minutes later I learned he was just faking me out. The boy should be an actor. I played musical beds with him half the evening while Wife, who was visiting with her parents and siblings, kept telling me, “Don’t worry about him. He’ll go to sleep when he’s ready.”

Well, he might go to sleep when he’s ready, BUT I’M READY RIGHT NOW! And like a good husband, I said nothing and finally surrendered to let #6 curl up in my lap. In the end, he put me to sleep, and Wife put us both to bed. I guess she was right in the end.

To close, I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving and remembered all the gifts you are thankful for. Unlike the pilgrims, we no longer need Indians to save us from starvation. However, I sure could have used someone to save me from my own children’s late night endurance.

Easter 2012

5:30 am Easter morning, I am rudely awaken by Wife performing the duties of house cleaning. To be honest I was puzzled. Easter =Holiday. Holiday= special day. Special day = Sunday. Sunday = rest. Rest = house cleaning????

I found Wife hard at work with several children, the oldest three. The funny thing was that in order for Wife to relax she wanted, requested, needed, required a clean house. I do not understand it, the place was clean when we went to bed, and nothing changed in the night.

Well, when Wife was satisfied, only then did we realize that the Easter Bunny neglected to hide the children’s Easter Baskets. So the kids were sent to clean their rooms and I was sent to help the Bunny hide the candy baskets. Of course once the cleaning was started it could not be stopped. So I drank my coffee in my old green recliner while the children performed their expected duties.

Wife would not let the children hunt for their baskets until all the bedrooms were clean. However, that did not stop the children from secretly looking. I know because different kids would come up to me, one at a time, and never twice, pointing the baskets out to me. I heard, “Daddy, I found a Easter basset.” or, “Looky, see the baskit the Easta Wabbit bot?” or, “Daddy, I found candy.”  and even a slap, slap, slap on the knee and point, point, point, by the two-year old.

At last the rooms were clean and Wife could breathe easier. While she settled into her version of rest, the kids made quick work of the Easter Basket Hunt. In the blink of an eye all the baskets were found, well except #5’s. How was I to know that that one was his basket, I just happened to hide that one the best. It took reliable #1 to find it. In my defense, Wife did not label any of the baskets so how was I to know? The kids had to bring their baskets to their Momma to see if it were theirs or not. But they all got theirs in the end and a tornado of chocolate and giggles ensued. The first sugar rush of the day. To be clear, this all happened before 7:30 in the morning.