I awoke from the nap groggy and disoriented. Is it the middle of the night? How long did we sleep?
I heard the light sounds of conversation from the living room and realized that the short days had simply played a trick on me. After going to bed for a quick nap at four in the afternoon I awoke at five at night. As my mind cleared, the previous twenty-four hours came rushing back to me…
The day before Christmas:
V and I arrived home from a bike ride into Woodland, California and a pit stop visit with Grandma and Grandpa Alves to find the whole family hanging out chatting, playing with toys and chasing my nephews Arlo and Zayne. We immediately joined the party, adding our post-biking scent to the fragrances of Christmas in the air. We both enjoyed the speed dating-esque nature of my family’s Christmas activities: playing with Arlo until he moved on to his Grandma, followed by grabbing a delicious home-made cookie, chatting with Dad about his shop construction project, then turning mid-sentence to attack Zayne after being dubbed a “good monster.” The madness was eventually funneled into the kitchen where we devoured a feast designed to train the stomach for Christmas dinner the next day.
Later, we assembled in the living room to commiserate about our uncomfortably full tummies. We took solace in the fact that the crossfit-style play with Zayne and Arlo was digging us out of the food induced discomfort, then lost all hope as ample servings of Mom’s homemade blackberry pie passed through our mouths. Another maelstrom of activity filled the evening, and we were off to bed.
I awoke in the middle of the night to Zayne’s wails of stomach pain. Ash and Eliot comforted him, despite the possibly even greater mental stress of their child suffering. I lost it a bit thinking of Zayne in pain and not being able to tell how serious it was, so I did what non-religious people do instead of pray: lay there feeling helpless. I took solace in V giving me a comforting hug, which she admitted the next morning was totally unconscious (innately comforting and honest to boot, what a gal).
Turns out our pseudo-prayers were answered and Zayne’s stomach bug was tamed by Christmas morning. My Grandma and Grandpa Hempel arrived mid-morning and the present opening extravaganza commenced. Everyone ooh’ed and aww’ed as Arlo tore into yet another present, equally thankful for the wrapping paper as for the toy inside. To V and my excitement, both Zayne and Arlo opened the Pillow Pets we got for them and immediately smiled. The boys could have been hired by Toys R’ Us as they demonstrated the two uses of the toys: Zayne held his dinosaur up and roared, while Arlo lay down and snuggled his head on his Panda. It felt great that our gifts were a hit with the two brutally honest toddlers.
Everyone gave us incredibly thoughtful gifts, despite the crazy restriction that we are moving to New Zealand and will only be able to bring the bare essentials. Thanks guys!
We marched into the kitchen to find that the previous day’s meal had indeed been a warm up for the enormity of the delicious feast awaiting us. I immediately embraced the task at hand, pausing only to make silly faces at Arlo and bask in his giggles of affirmation.
We returned to the living room to play, laugh, and chat, the mortar that cemented each of the bricks of structured holiday activity. Goodbyes were next, with hugs being passed out to Grandma and Grandpa, Ash, Eliot and Zayne. The remaining crew went down for our naps, real sugar-yams dancing in our tummies.