The house is quiet and dark.
The white lights on the Christmas tree are glittering.
The Lime Cream Souffle for tomorrow's dinner is in the refrigerator.
The Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns are assembled and ready to throw in the oven first thing tomorrow morning.
The gifts are wrapped.
The stockings are filled.
The boys are bathed. Two haircuts completed.
The toys are picked up, floor swept, and laundry put away.
Our Christmas clothes are set out.
(If only I could say that Christmas cards are out.. They have been finished for quite some time, but I hate the way the picture turned out when I got them developed. Apparently we are sending out New Year's cards...)
Tomorrow, we will open stockings in our PJs. The boys will sing 'Happy Birthday' to baby Jesus. We'll get dressed, load up the truck, and drive the two miles through the silent countryside to my parents' home. There we will join my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephew for breakfast including Swedish pancakes made by my brother-in-law, Casey. I'll sneak a moment to sit in the living room alone and gaze at the Christmas tree. All the memories of past Christmases washing over me. Every one of them (save the two or three out of town at a Grandparent's home) in this house--in this room.
We'll spend the rest of the morning opening presents, one at a time--from youngest to the oldest. There will be oohs and ahs of delight over the thoughtful gifts. My oldest son is sure to have a few dramatic moments-- either ecstatic over a perfect present, or devastated with disappointment. My second born will find it impossible to wait his turn. My youngest will hopefully be thrilled just playing with paper and boxes.
The wrappings will be cleared away, the kids will find a cozy nook in which to play with their new treasures, and dinner preparations will swing into full gear. I pray that the youngest child decides that a nap is in order.
For the first year in my memory, turkey will not be served. But ham and prime rib will grace our table, and no one will complain. The dishes and centerpieces will look beautiful. The conversation will be cheerful. The kids will be antsy and unable to concentrate on eating. (I'm speaking only for my 3 boys...and keeping it real.)
The afternoon will dissolve into dishes, laughter, dessert, games, and naps. Eventually, each family will gather up its coats, empty plates, and new treasures. We'll say good bye and drive through the dark to our own glowing homes, where each one of us will fall into bed. Except myself. I'll be up for a few more moments. Just long enough to put pictures on my blog.