I’m thankful for our traditional Christmas Eve panic when my husband and I stay up way too late moaning and groaning over why we waited until the last minute to sort through and wrap the gifts and wake up way too early to the excited voices of the kids in the morning.
We barricade the door to upstairs with a chair ever since the year our oldest child came stumbling down with eyes glazed and rolling in the sockets, in a chickenpox fever-induced delirium insisting that Santa had already arrived and Christmas was already here.
Some years we imbibe a little; other years we don’t at all. Some years there is music in the background; other years the soundtrack of the evening is just crackling paper, zipping Scotch tape, and snipping scissors.
And bickering. There is always bickering between us, every single year, but it’s delightful and always heavily punctuated with giggling. We bicker over wasting paper (I always cut it too small for what I’m wrapping), and we bicker over who lost the scissors, and who lost the tape, and who lost the pen, and whose turn it is with that roll of wrapping paper.
We always end up with uneven piles, and so we take from one child and give to another so that everyone has approximately the same-ish number of gifts to unwrap and no one feels like the least-favorite child.
We try to stuff the stockings and can never figure out how we end up with too much stuffing — kind of like when I try to fill and fold a burrito, I drastically overestimate how much filling I need.
We place the presents under the tree and take pictures of our craftiness. We gaze at the lights and the gifts and talk about how happy the kids will be. We give each other a Christmas hug and kiss, since by now it’s well past midnight and officially Christmas, and then we go to bed for a few hours’ sleep before the kids wake up.
And when we hear them, we look at each other with our sleepy, droopy eyes and we smile sleepy, droopy smiles, and we snuggle together under the blankets while we listen to the kids Ooh and Aah over their stocking loot.
And it is beautiful. Every year, it is happy and peaceful and cozy and beautiful.