The children are nestled snug in their beds, and it's nearly 7 a.m. That in itself is my Christmas Eve miracle.
We're looking forward to four days as a family, a rare treat.
I know a lot of people seemed surprised when we'd tell them we were spending the days just the four of us, but we have never had a quiet Christmas just as a little family. Not in 14 years of marriage. Not even the year I came home after a c-section on Christmas Eve. (Though I didn't mind sharing my son, that Christmas was exhausting.) And while I'm happy to host or travel to see the grandparents, as my husband's aunt put it, "little ones should be in their own homes for the holidays and in their own beds to wait for Santa. That's where the best memories are made for them!"
This year, we want to make some memories for them. And yes, we've done Christmas activities at school, at church and with others, but now it's time for us. We've watched classics like The Christmas Carol (not the best thing for a 5 year old with an active imagination before bedtime, in retrospect). Baked cookies. Meeting the rush of shoppers at the store before this afternoon's winter snow. Slipping back into our old pasttime of noshing our way through Christmas Eve day, rather than sitting through a meal. Avoiding the hurriedness and excitement of traveling and sitting through Christmas Eve service in favor of a much more settled-down version tomorrow morning.
I've got chestnuts, found at an apple orchard, which we'll try roasting for a recipe. (One less thing to explain - "What are chestnuts?") I've got a gingerbread train, given to my son for his birthday, that we may assemble once the excitement settles down. I've got carrots for our snowmen we'll likely make (when the kids aren't hurling snowballs at mom).
But mostly, I've got time.
In the end, I don't care what we fix for Christmas dinner, what's opened from under our tree or what we end up doing. The important part is we reconnect as a family. And that, as my 5 year old continues to tell me, is what Christmas is about. Family.