I so very much wanted to have Christmas in February, but, unfortunately, that didn't work with everyone's schedule. If you're reading this, you probably know why Christmas in February is a thing, but in case you don't, it's a very special story to my brothers and me. To say that my family struggled financially while I was growing up is an understatement. Alcoholic, deadbeat father and a mom who was amazing and did the best she could. One Christmas, however, once again, my father had run off and my mother was left to pick up the pieces - there was no money for presents and while none of us cared so much about that, she did. I think it broke her heart to think about waking up on Christmas morning with nothing under the tree. We didn't even stay at our house that Christmas, we went over my grandparents house because at least there, we'd wake up to what Santa left us. It was maybe the hardest Christmas for my mother. I can't even begin to image all of the feelings she was having, but I know that it hurt her. In my memory, this Christmas was no less special than any other, but then I viewed it through the eyes of a child and not the eyes of a mother. Christmas came and Christmas went and I thought no more about it until a Saturday in February.
We were awaken to the sound of a spoon on a pot way too early on a Saturday morning for any of us to be happy about it. Grumbling we left the warmth of our beds and our dreams and started wondering what the hell was wrong. Mom never woke us up. The longer we slept the more peace and quiet she had with her morning coffee. She hurries us all downstairs and what do we find? Her ficus tree decorated with Christmas lights and Christmas balls and underneath of it presents. (I learned later she took her tax refund money and gave us the Christmas we didn't have in December.) I don't remember what the boys received, but I remember what I did. A typewriter. I had a love for words even then and I had wanted a typewriter for so long. Following the presents, we had Christmas. It was one of the most amazing days of my childhood and as I sit and look at these memories through the eyes of an adult, it wasn't the presents that made the day, it was my mother's sheer happiness that shines through. It's something I'll never forget so I thought this year it would be fitting to revise the Christmas in February - however, we're no longer four kids (Steve wasn't born yet) sleeping in on a Saturday afternoon. We're all adults with families and responsibilities so Christmas in February didn't happen. But Christmas in March did.
My day started out with a drive down to Baltimore City to pick up my M&Ms. I always feel like the most special person on the planet when I see them. They're always so excited and happy to see me. On the way back to the house, I heard stories about their Christmas and about school and had to tell them time and again to keep their hands to themselves. They're brother and sister - natural aggravators (I made this a noun!) to one another. Trust me, I know this feeling.
We stopped at the grocery store where they chose donuts and picked one out for GEP and they fought over who got to ride in the car hooked to the front of the shopping cart. Eventually, they both climbed in, but believe me, they were crushed in there.
As we pulled up to the house Phill, Christina and GEP were waiting. I love it that they all look forward to seeing each other so much.
The rest of the day is really a blur of activity. The kids played downstairs and I got caught up with Phill and Christina - who had a big announcement. Actually, it was GEP who told us. (This has already been posted by Christina on facebook by the time I'm writing this post, so it's safe to share it here.) Christina asked GEP if he wanted to tell us his news and he said, nonchalantly, "I'm going to be a big brother." I had visions of him volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters - it didn't quite settle in my head...until it did. I'm so excited. I have a new little one coming this year - in November. I'm rooting for November 2nd for obvious reasons.
We waited for Steve to show up to open the presents and have lunch, but he never did. I was disappointed in him. He texted Stew and told him that he overslept because he worked the night before and I get that, it's fine. I mean, he's 19, right. I remember how I was when I was 19 - but, this was the big family get together and it's hard enough that Shawn can't be here because he's stationed in Germany; it's harder still when those that could be here chose not to be - I know, I know, he overslept because of work and things so I'm trying to keep it in perspective, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.
I did my best not to let that overshadow the day, though. We still had a great lunch and the kids still had a blast opening their presents and I must say GEP is a gem. Phill and Christina obviously purchased presents for MTP and MNP, but I didn't think about the fact that I should have taken MTP and MNP out to purchase presents for GEP so he had nothing to open while MTP and MNP were opening the gifts from Christina and Phill - but he did great. He sat with me and handed out the presents and he was stellar. I'll have to remember to take the kids shopping for GEP next year (and the new one - squeeeeeee), but I must say I'm so very proud of GEP for how he handled all of that.
The kids loved their presents. I loved catching up with the family. It was everything that Christmas should be. Laughter and love....and exhaustion.
Here's some pictures from the day. It was hard to narrow down the ones to include here (my camera makes me an awesome photographer, especially outdoors in the sun) - all of the pictures taken throughout the day are uploaded to our SmugMug account.
Phill and Christina brought me a cake celebrating my new job.
Outside playing football. Check out the sideline reporter. She was keeping score.
While watching the boys play football, I was astonished by their arm strength and accuracy. They were throwing the ball pretty far to Phill and right to him. Catching on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired. I thought it was cute too how MNP would spike the ball. Every time he "scored" he spiked the ball. HAHA.
Playing "Go Fish"