'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, there was...merriment...frantic last-minute preparations...family togetherness...and a whole lotta goofiness. Perhaps not so much your traditional seasonal fare, but around here, that's what you get! Without further ado, a few tales of the tidings:
Although I had my duties as Team WestEnders' SDR (Santa Delivery Rep. What? It's an important job, and I thought I deserved a title...and more importantly, some cookies, come to think of it...) pretty well handled, there were a couple more items I needed to pick up late in the game. Now, when we lived in Maryland, I would never even consider--not for one hot minute--venturing anywhere NEAR a retail center in the days leading up to Christmas. The heavy traffic, the chaos of finding a parking spot, the madding crowds, the checkout lines...these are things to which I choose not to subject myself. However, I crossed my fingers and sent a little prayer out to the Universe that somehow it would prove to be a different experience...300 miles south.
So I gave the local mall a shot on the 23rd (I know, I know--I cringed reflexively as I typed that, but hang in there with me...it's going to be okay, I promise), telling myself that I'd just do a drive-by and assess the situation. If the outside looked crazy-busy and packed, I'd simply leave. Aaaaannnd...it turned out to be totally fine, starting with an abundance of empty parking spaces. Okay, then--I have no idea WHY, but, that went so well, let's continue to push my luck: on to Target...which was NOT the madhouse I expected, either. Huh.
Well, I might have lost my mind a little bit--or at least been addled by my success--since I decided to go ahead and visit stores on Christmas Eve as well. (Right? What was I thinking? I'm a chick who likes to live on the edge, that's what...or some such nonsense...) First, I tackled Whole Foods, which was only the usual amount of frenzied...so basically completely manageable. Finally, for my last stop on the pre-Yuletide mini-spree: Kohl's. This was actually the worst of them all...as there was a delay of approximately...5 minutes...to purchase my items. Whew, the stress--I required an immediate Starbucks Skinny Peppermint Mocha after surviving that one, I tell ya! (Yes, I can turn absolutely ANYTHING into an excuse for coffee--it's my special gift...)
Then, with the...elf chores...finished, we could focus on the actual fun part of the proceedings, beginning with our tradition of attending church on December 24th. As our departure time approached, the following conversation occurred:
Riley: "Mom, is church on Christmas Eve shorter than normal?"
Me: (puzzled) "Maaayybee...why do you ask?"
Riley: "I seem to remember last year that you sing some songs, but the message isn't very long."
Me: (still not entirely sure what he's getting at, but willing to play along until he reveals his point) "Well, that makes sense, because it's not a regular Sunday service, with a sermon, and the whole purpose is really to hear the story of Jesus's birth."
Riley: (brightening with relief at my confirmation of his recall) "Yeah (pause) mostly I'm wondering how it affects dinner."
Me: (full understanding dawning) "Aahhhhh...of COURSE you are. Don't worry, celebrating the arrival of our Lord and Savior will not preempt your evening meal." (Good. Grief...)
Postscript: I feel compelled to mention that later, as I relayed the story to Derek so we could possibly enjoy a laugh at his brother's voracious appetite, he responded with deadly seriousness, "Oh yeah, that's my main concern, too." Oh, and keep in mind that this exchange took place WHILE they were each eating their afternoon snack. Yep, that's my teenagers--always on the lookout for their next food opportunity..siiighhhhh.....
Not long after I'd recovered from this bit of silliness, Riley sought me out to ask, "Are you gonna make us dress nice for church?" At this point, there was only one reaction I could go with: dropping my forehead into my hands, heaving a dramatically disappointed breath, and exclaiming, "Heaven forbid!" To his credit, he just stood there, evidently immune to my theatrics (Darn it! I'm gonna have to take it to the next level, aren't I?) until I added, "I suppose not." Then I had a brainstorm, "Wait, how about you wear the shorts you have on (a relatively muted pair of grey athletic ones)...and your polo?"
Derek had wandered in by this time--clad in shorts that were much...more colorful and...less appropriate for a house of worship--and interjected, "I'll change into my cargo shorts!" Recognizing that this was the best offer I was likely to receive, I snapped it up...and spent a brief moment reminiscing about when they were small enough for me to dress them any way I liked. (Of course, I also had to change their diapers during that time, which is why the nostalgia was quite short-lived...ha!)
At last, when the gospel-ing and supper-ing had concluded, we settled in for some quality festive video viewing...although again, with a very different atmosphere than in Christmases past. For one thing, each boy stretched himself along an entire couch...and had to be advised that, no matter how large they now are, they'll be SHARING the cushions with their parents. Derek actually had the nerve to defend what he had claimed as his turf, "I just thought you'd be sitting on the floor!" Um.....hellllooo...the unspoken rule that you seem to have conveniently forgotten is this: in the event of a tie, the OLD PERSON gets the comfy seat, dude! (He moved over and made room for me...albeit grudgingly...it may have been after I reminded him that it wasn't too late to return his presents. Yep, that's some admirable Christmas parenting, right?)
Meanwhile, when queried as to which selection he'd prefer to watch, Riley declared, "Anything!" Before quickly amending, "Well...as long as it's Charlie Brown!" Okay, then: Peanuts it is, followed by the mandatory annual screening of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Demonstrating once more that the times, they have-'a-changed, while the nasty green one was tossing the Whos' bags of goodies up the chimneys, Derek mused, "Um...I don't think that's how physics works..."
So, while I have to accept that they're not my adorable youngsters anymore--running around in spiffy red and green outfits that I picked out (and wrangled them into)...sitting rapt in front of beloved holiday classics without making smart aleck comments...toddling off to bed early so that Santa would make his appearance while they slept...they ARE still my (much bigger)...precious...gooberheads. God bless us, every one!