Mom truly thought she could die. I didn't realize she had been completely serious when she confessed those fears to me. But Chienne jumped on my parents' bed this morning, hurting Mom and waking all three of us. Dad soon came down the hall to make coffee and I glanced at the clock after scolding the dog who'd come to my room, head hanging with dismay. It was 3:30. I got up to brush my teeth and when I emerged from the only bathroom, Mom was on the couch and Dad was moving presents around. I sat on the floor and offered Chienne something to open - she loves to open presents - and Dad handed me a large, heavy box.
"I'm not sure you'll like it." Mom said. "But I wanted you to have it."
I tore the paper and pushed it aside to reveal an expensive, metallic chrome Kitchenaid mixer.
"I love it." I said, surprised and processing the information. "I wouldn't have bought one for myself - they're so expensive - but it's wonderful."
I looked over at her, surrounded by presents unopened and she smiled at me. "I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond by myself and hobbled to the mixers. I told them I wanted two - one for you and another for your brother - and gave them my coupons and credit card. Then I went to get the car and waited outside for them to bring them to me. I felt awful, but I wanted to get that done."
I nodded at her, keeping my right hand on the box that held my mixer.
"Grandma got me a mixer before she died." She told me.
"I remember." I offered simply and she nodded. My mother currently is cuddled with her eldest granddaughter down the hall. Little and Smallest Ones both have miserable colds and Little One demanded to stay with her grandma tonight after being here all day. Brother and his family arrived at a much more suitable hour - around 9:30, I think. I had already stowed my mixer and Tenderheart and a Bluetooth headseat for my phone. I also got clothes and cookie sheets (to go with the mixer to make it a tad less depressing), the requisite calendar (puppies and kittens this year), a couple of movies and my annual shampoo set. I don't know why Mom gets me shampoo every year - I can buy my own - but I always expect it, just as I expect shower gel and a poof from Aunt.
Little One started to open gifts around 10 and continued until nearly 1. She got a ridiculous amount of toys and I contributed about half of what my parents did in terms of number. There was a Dora cash register and 2 large Littlest Pet Shop items (the Round and Round Pet Town and Get Better Center). Then there were several smaller Littlest Pet sets from each of us. I think she ended up with 5 Barbies, one with a horse, another small one with an elephant. Stacks of movies and more of books. Balloons and bubble bath and bags of bath toys. There is a large tupperware in the corner that is full of the small pieces that each of us worked to remove from plastic - untwisting ties and picking at tape, pulling at plastic and working to remove those obnoxious plastic bands that are sort of like rubber, but less stretchy and many times more annoying.
Smallest One grabbed one of the stacking cups I got her, stared at the blinking lights on one of the three large toys that sings songs and lights up and smiled and babbled a bit. She coughed and sneezed a good deal and cried pitifully several times. The poor darling is sick and I hate to see her so miserable. But we ate breakfast casserole and monkey bread in the mid-morning and put in ham and cheesy potatoes when the presents were mostly revealed from their bright paper. Dad took 3 huge garbage bags of paper and cardboard outside and Mom and Little One decided to watch a DVD in the back bedroom, while Brother's Wife and Smallest One napped in the master bedroom. Dad watched television and drank beer with Brother and I finished my thank you notes from my interview (finally). Each of us continued to stack items and pick up paper but we still struggled to find paths through the living room. But everything was colorful and happy - if terribly cluttered - and I decided this Christmas was rather good.
It was just immediate family - very casual and easy. I stayed in pajamas all day - sleepy pants and a black t-shirt with a cruise-in logo that Dad got me for Christmas. I rested on the couch for a little bit at one point and had no real idea what time it was unless someone asked. We went from coffee to water to beer and wine. We had dinner when Dad decided he was hungry - Brother and I moving to the kitchen to set the table and slice the ham and remove potato and green bean casseroles from the oven. We ate lightly as we had all snacked through most of the day - a tiny piece of casserole from breakfast or a cookie or two. Then we cleaned up as Brother, his wife and his youngest daughter prepared to head home.
It's now mostly quiet. Dad's gone to bed so he can rise early and head to work tomorrow. I can hear a Dora video from down the hall and Little One's voice as she plays Barbies with her grandmother. Neither of them feel great - Little One's is stuffy. I asked if she was OK earlier and she said she was "very cough-y." Mom has therapy in the morning - her knees continue to bother her. But we were together today - we laughed and squabbled and rested and talked. I believe - I fervently hope - that next year will be easier for us health-wise. But for this year, I feel pleasantly tired and exceptionally blessed.
I hope your holidays have left you in equal if not better spirits.