Now that Christmas is over I’m ready for life to return to normal. It was a great weekend in Des Moines, but I’m craving my regular schedule, less eating and drinking, and cleaning up the holiday mess. Forget New Year’s Eve, I’m done celebrating for a while.
But Christmas in Des Moines is special, mainly due to two little girls who still believe in Santa Claus. Their enthusiasm and delight is contagious and it’s fun to watch them put out cookies for Santa and wait patiently at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning to see what’s under the tree. Steve and I arrived on Christmas Eve and were greeted with hugs and squeals of joy from Lydia and Julia. They were already excited because mom and Burl (Grammie and Papa Burl) had arrived the night before and were thrilled we’d come up again this year. The house was full, but never felt crowded. We had some time to relax before heading out to church. Des Moines had just enough snow to make it a white Christmas, but not so much that we couldn’t get around. The neighborhood around Ralph and Blair’s house had lined the sidewalks with white luminaries which glowed in the snow making the night seem magical. The girls were delighted to see that some of the white paper bags had caught fire and loved pointing out the small fires to all of us. With the snow around them they were contained so no damage was done.
After a lovely traditional church service, complete with a candlelight ceremony to Silent Night, we returned home and put the excited but very tired girls to bed. The grownups had a late dinner and took our wine downstairs so we could watch Elf and help Santa wrap gifts. Steve and I only lasted about an hour but everyone else stayed up and wrapped until 1 a.m. The next morning the girls waited at the top of the stairs until they were given the green light to come down and see what was under the tree. In their house, Santa wraps the gifts. In our house, the gifts were left under the tree unwrapped. Once Mary Kay and Everett (Blair’s parents) had arrived and the adults had some coffee, the girls were let loose to start unwrapping. The big gift of the year was a Wii. Naturally, they started begging immediately to play, but their mean parents made them wait until the afternoon. We took a break for breakfast and more coffee, then the girls played Santa for the adults and doled out gifts. They delighted in being able to help all of us unwrap our gifts.
The day continued with a delicious Christmas dinner of hamloaf, cheesy potatoes, steamed green beans and a great salad. After the girls went to bed, the adults did their stockings (a favorite tradition in our family), drank more wine and talked about what a great day we had. All in all, a lovely Christmas celebration with family.
The day after, mom and Burl left and Ralph and I hit the Banana Republic 50% off until noon sale. We managed to hit two BRs before noon and got lots of goodies. My best deal was a $15 coat ($45 on sale less $30 in BR rewards) and we got some great pieces for the guys too. Unbelievably, the stores weren’t packed and we scored two great parking spots. The guys met us at the mall with the girls and then they took off for some guy time while we went to see Tangled. Julia knew I was interested in seeing it so she became obsessed with the idea we’d all go. It was a cute movie, predictable, but Lydia declared parts of it, “a little scary.”
Yesterday Steve and I hit the road to home and arrived late afternoon to two very lonely cats. Today it’s back to normal as we both head to work. I’m grateful for the break, but always crave my normal schedule after a holiday whirlwind. I think plans for New Year’s Eve include doing very little and that’s just fine with me.