Christmas is near

Published 2:48 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Henry gently laid part of the strand of lights on the limbs of the tree doing his best to help Granddaddy decorate the tree.

There were usually too many or not enough for the next layer I was to put on but that didn’t matter. Besides, Laura would then walk over and push the lights just far enough into the tree to get them tangled. An hour-long job took most of the morning but who cares? Christmas is near.

This is the first Christmas that both of my grandchildren have come at the same time to help decorate the tree. Saturday will be one of those days that we will be talking about for years to come.

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Laura was spending four days with us while her parents played like they were adults without children. They visited Nashville for the weekend where the wind chill hit 5 degrees. Serves them right.

Henry and his parents arrived by 8 a.m. on Saturday. That wasn’t any problem since Laura had already gotten in bed with us about two hours earlier. Of course I heard most of her noises during the night because of the monitor that was just feet from our bed. How did our children survive without us hearing their every breath as they slept?

By nine in the morning, the toys had been strewn from one end of the house to the other. It isn’t that there was a favorite toy to play with. No, we had to pull every toy, game and puzzle out of the boxes and dump them on the floor before deciding what to do. Visualize a tornado going through the house without destroying the walls.

About 10:30 we made our way to the library to visit Santa. Dozens of small children were there to have fun with their parents. You could hear screams and crying babies as their parents nudged them toward that big man dressed in red with a huge white beard. Henry and Laura didn’t cry, but they kept their distance warily eyeing this strange creature.

After a while, Henry crawled up in his Daddy’s lap and just watched Santa. Laura then crawled up in the same lap and put her head down on her cousin’s shoulder. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough only to discover that the batteries only had enough juice for one picture.

Off to Hardee’s for lunch where we promptly knocked over a drink. Henry got the blame, but I am not sure it wasn’t his Dad. In any case, all was well in a hurry as our favorite health food, French fries, were delivered to the table. Children and adults ate heartily until the toy in the kid’s meal was discovered. Lunch was effectively finished at that point.

We somehow made it to naptime. We put “Toy Story 2” into the DVD and both Laura and Henry climbed up in my lap. It doesn’t matter that I have now seen this movie 25 times, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Somewhere along the way, we all took a nap. For some reason, I took the longest nap by far. By the time I woke up, they were both running in the neighborhood with their Granny rejuvenated by energy that seemed to have escaped me.

That evening Laura handed Mary Lou the Waterford Christmas ornaments that we have been collecting for years. She seemed to know to be gentle and not break them. By Sunday evening we had finally gotten all the ornaments on the tree. Laura’s favorite is a small bird. I don’t know where we got it or how old it is, but she reaches out over and over to touch it with the tip of her finger and say softly, “Bird.”

By Sunday evening, she was in our bed during the middle of the night. I know that because I was awoken by two feet steadily jabbing me in my ribcage. Why do children like to turn sideways in a bed as they sleep? Celebrex has helped the aches resulting from a night of sleeping with a tiny kickboxer.

The face of Christmas seems to have changed since my children came along. I don’t really recall any weekend just like the past one. The trouble is that I can’t really recall anything but snippets of Christmas when Catherine and Elizabeth were this age. I guess parents are too busy being parents to just savor the individual moments.

As ML and I settled (crashed) into bed Monday evening we talked about how the house was back in order and how quiet it was. The only thing missing was their irrepressible smiles and laughter, their joy at the smallest things, and their delight in being with their Granddaddy and Granny.

I won’t have a better gift than that under the tree. It is often said that Christmas is for children. Through the eyes of my grandchildren I become a child all over again. I can feel the excitement. Christmas is near!