I remember watching my parents on Christmas morning. They stumbled out of bed, questioned if Santa “really came”, and dragged on and on while making coffee. I used to ask them why they rarely got gifts. They said that “they didn’t need it… Christmas was for the children.”
I remember thinking that they were crazy.
I mean… Santa came… COME ON, PEOPLE. MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT!
On Christmas Eve, I started the girl’s night routine a little early. Brad had a gig on the north side of town, so it was just me and the girls to prep for Santa. We set out a plate of cookies and milk. We also set out a plate of carrots and celery for the reindeer (they do get awfully hungry, you know).
I put the girls down to bed and reviewed the whole “Santa is coming to the house tonight” story with them.
Around 9:30pm, my mom and I set out the gifts. At 10pm, I heard the sounds of drawers opening and closing.
When I went into the girl’s room, the light was on and Ana was getting dressed.
“Ana… baby… what are you doing?”
“Um… Santa came… and left presents!”
“No, baby. It is night time. You can’t get up until the sun comes up.”
Guess who got up when the sun came up?
The girls were both dressed and ready to go when I walked in their room. We looked at all of the gifts under the tree, looked at the stockings and discovered that Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk.
(*Interesting note, here. I sat down to eat the cookies and drink the milk when my mother asked, "Maura, honey... what are you doing? You don't really eat them - put them back in the bag! Pour the milk back into the container." Some remnant of childhood cried out in horror. WHAT? You never DRANK the MILK? I checked the glass! "Maura... I hate milk. I always poured it out."
Back to Christmas morning...
The girls wandered in confusion for awhile as I got my coffee and got things together.
I told them to go wake up their Daddy. I followed up and watched them pounce on Brad and try to lift him with their hands.
"DADDY! Santa came! Get... UP. GET... UP. He left PRESENTS!" (If they knew to follow the sentence up with, "for the LOVE OF GOD" they would have.)
The morning was a nice pace of present opening with the family (Stacia's family, my mom and dad, Diane).
We started with stockings... which contained Ana's new brown monkey (Lightening Bolt Monkey).
Her happiness was amazing. She cuddled with it, held it up, introduced it to Brown Monkey.
It was at this moment when I got it.
I had slam dunked Christmas. I knew Ana would love the monkey. I bought the thing months ago.
But her face.
The absolute happiness.
I struggled to hold back tears.
I failed to hold back tears... although I hid them from everyone.
I was now the keeper of Christmas and all of the mystery of Santa.
I know why my parents didn't get gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.
The gift was seeing our happiness and wonder and excitement.
And the slam dunk.