We started the holidays off with a little Solstice celebration in our backyard-- just us, the neighbors, a crackling fire and an unusual dessert which was supposed to be a layer of dark chocolate souffle over a layer of pudding, but was instead one giant layer of dark chocolate souffle soaked in pudding. I was going to call it a failed dessert but we ate it all, scooping the delicious semi-sweet goo out of mugs as we sat by the fireside. Butchy, our neighbors' outdoor cat, was beside himself with joy: laps! Warm laps! And on the longest, darkest night of the year! You could just see utter contentment written on his little kitty face, and honestly, he looked how I felt.
Christmas this year was not nearly as chaotic as I had imagined it might be, which I think had little to do with the actual logistics of the holiday and was mostly a product of my particular state of mind. As I have written earlier-- and as some of you unfortunate readers have experienced firsthand-- I get, um, wound up when entertaining guests. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore hosting friends and family. I'm one of those people who show love and affection through the proffering of food and warm beds. But I also become kind of wired; I laugh really loudly and acquire the ability to see individual specks of dust on any given surface. Nevertheless, this Christmas through some combination of nursing hormones and my own efforts to take a chill pill, I was fairly mellow, and although this meant messier quarters and non-standard mealtimes for the Zoglman Christmas attendees it was wonderful to really relax and soak in the holiday. And there was a lot to soak.
Christmas Eve, though not as hectic as last year (when Avery and Nita were up until the wee hours assembling Geneva's kitchen center) did present its own challenge: where oh where do we put all the presents? I was, in the most humble and appreciative way, kind of horrified at the outpouring of giving which had localized itself in our living room. It was a sight to behold.
Here are the full stockings-- with extension piles--of Geneva, Lavender, Avery, Nita, Jordan, Andreen and myself. Don't worry, we carved out a place for my mom to sleep on the couch.
Lavender awoke at about quarter to six on Christmas morning, and ten minutes later Geneva was wide awake too. And who can blame them? This was Lavender's first Christmas (although I'm guessing that's not what woke her up) and Geneva's first Christmas where she understood what was going on. The latter's first words upon awakening were "did Santa come? Did he bring my dolly stroller?" Oh. Um. Crap. Avery and I had forgotten to put it under the tree the night before. Fortunately the offer of hot cocoa in bed kept Geneva from sprinting out of the bedroom while I frantically set up the stroller, and in five minutes all was right with the world. Sure, we were all groggy and the sun hadn't even started to think about coming up. I always thought that's just how Christmas mornings with children go, and I'll admit I would have been disappointed had it gone otherwise.
Nana and Lavender, very early in the morning.
Lavender Jane's fist Christmas.
After a big aebelskiver breakfast, with many thanks to Andreen for her help in the kitchen, we began opening presents in earnest. I would highly recommend giving presents to an actor; I don't know if Jordan was truly as excited about this puzzle as he looks, but it was intensely gratifying for me, the puzzle-giver.
Geneva proved to be a very capable present-unwrapper, which was not at all surprising. She was also very good about sharing presents with her little sister and about bringing gifts to other family members to open, which was kind of surprising.
Each of us gave some pretty amazing presents, both big and little. It was a joy to see each one being opened and shared. Avery found a beautiful set of wind chimes for me...
...and I got him a banjo! Knowing how difficult it would be to wrap, I just hid it in the corner behind the tree a couple of days before Christmas. I was feeling pretty sneaky until Geneva walked up to Avery and announced "there's a banjo behind the tree. It's a surprise." Avery claimed not to have understood her, but I have my doubts. Oh well! He acted surprised on Christmas Day, but more importantly, I think he was really happy.
It was well after noon by the time we finished opening presents, and despite my intention to put on fancy clothes for dinner it never actually happened. So, that was our Christmas: a pajama day. A giving day. A feasting day. A wonderful day.
And I haven't even told you the best part.
On the evening of Christmas Day, after they had returned home to Portland, Jordan proposed to Andreen and she accepted! This is by far the smartest thing my brother has ever done-- which is not to disparage his past decision-making skills, but rather to highlight what an amazing person Andreen is. And oh, you should see them: they just ooze love. You can't hardly look away. I'm so thrilled for them as to be (almost) at a loss for words. Congratulations, Jordan and Andreen!
Yessss! I'm finally going to have a sister!