Happy Seventh Day of Christmas!
We had a whirlwind of a week last week, with my parents and four unmarried siblings in town for seven nights, and a wonderful Christmas.
I know I am getting older because by far the most exciting part about holidays for me is getting our family together. I took it SO for granted when I was sixteen (and really just wanted all my pesky siblings to *leave me alone*) but now that I am twenty-six and all my siblings and my parents and I are only in the same place a couple times a year if we're lucky, I really treasure that time. Having all of us together was the best part of the week.
Also I got totally spoiled having so many people around to help out with Camilla. Yesterday by the time Bryan got home from work I was feeling noticeably tired and stretched, and couldn't figure out why... until I realized that it was the first day in ten days that I'd been solely responsible for Camilla's needs. Her grandparents and aunts and uncles read to her, and got her snacks, and played with her. I hardly had to lift a finger the whole time they were here.
So having them around was definitely the best part of the week, but a very close second was the fact that it was Camilla's first Christmas where she understood what was going on.
She loved the rituals of Advent from the beginning, and would have had us reading her the verses from the Advent calendar non-stop if we'd let her. She was also totally pumped every time she saw "pretty lights" from her car seat, so much so that we took several evening drives around town before Christmas so Camilla could enjoy all the lights. You can imagine how excited she was when we put up our own Christmas tree and had pretty lights right there in our living room!
We don't do Santa, but we talked about Christmas ahead of time and what the family would celebration would look like, how people get each other presents and we get to go to Mass and have a special breakfast (with cinnamon rolls, which she loves). Camilla got to help with some present wrapping and other preparations. By the time the 25th rolled around, she was pretty pumped, enough so that when she woke up at 7:00 that morning and Bryan asked her if she knew what day it is, she did a little hop and said, "It's Christmas!" And that was before we even took her into the living room to see all the presents under the tree.
I was proud of Camilla and Daniel because it was hours between when they first saw all the Christmas presents and when we started opening them (family tradition - we always open stockings, say prayers, have breakfast, and go to Mass before present-opening time) and they were incredibly patient about it. Yes, Billa was a little more full-of-beans than usual at Mass, but it was extra-long (1 hr 40 mins instead of the normal 1 hr 10 mins) and she's two, so I'll take it.
And she LOVED her presents. Every time there was a new one for her it was like she couldn't believe her good luck. "You mean I already have a fish puzzle AND new coloring books, and now there is something else? This is the best day ever!"
I adore the young-child innocence which embraces and enjoys gifts with such abandon and enthusiasm, and makes no distinction between the $1 and the $50 presents. To Camilla it was all unexpected, all free, all absolutely delightful.
There's a useful metaphor for life in there somewhere; I'm sure of it.
I was proud this year because I had managed to get Bryan a GPS, a gadget he's been coveting for a while now, and I was so sure that I would beat him in the present race.
Okay, that doesn't sound quite right. I know it's not a competition, and I really appreciate my darling husband's generosity. Still, you can imagine how I've felt in the past, when I've stuck within our Christmas budget and managed to get him a fairly nice assortment of books, iTunes gift cards, DVDs, and the like... and he's presented me with: a new Macbook.
Well, of course I felt really, REALLY excited to have a new Macbook. But also I felt sorta bad to have given my husband small token gifts while he gave me a shiny beautiful new piece of expensive technology.
The reason this can happen is because, although our finances are shared and we don't spend money outside the budget without consulting each other, Bryan keeps track of all the income and expenses for our household. And he clearly considers gift occasions to be an excuse for ignoring that whole "don't spend un-budgeted money without consulting each other" rule, and time and again he manages to finagle the budget so that he can get me something that is WAY nicer than anything I can afford to get for him.
But this year I had some special money and I bought the GPS and some other things I knew Bryan wanted and I was so sure that this would be My Year. I knew the state of our finances, see, and that state was: Perfectly Healthy, But Definitely Without Room for Large-ish Extra Purchases.
I don't know why I am so clueless. I should have learned my lesson by now, that lesson being that when Gifts and/or Surprises are at stake, my dear husband will always Find a Way. Which he did this Christmas, with an unexpected windfall that he very purposefully did not tell me about.
The result of all this is that on Christmas morning I gave him a GPS and he gave me an iPod touch.
And he wins again.
But I am not unhappy about this, for two reasons:
1) I have finally figured out that I am married to a man who is made happier by giving than by receiving, and that the most gracious thing I can do is to allow him that happiness, and to show lots of real appreciation for the thoughtful and generous things he does for me.
2) An iPod touch is a really awesome thing to own.
As I told Bryan last night, this is the gadget that I didn't realize how much I wanted. It is not only pretty and shiny, it is also endlessly useful and amusing. I am especially psyched to have it when Billa's Baby Brother (as he's known 'round these parts) makes his appearance somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks from now. I have distinct memories of trying to balance my laptop on one knee so I could read blogs and email while Camilla nursed, and this time I will not have to do that - I can just surf one-handed on my little mini-computer. It's perfect.
Incidentally, I remember when my dad used to bring this enormous heavy box home from the office that was a new-fangled (for the mid-80s) *portable computer*! My sister and I would entertain ourselves by playing Paint on its grainy black-and-white screen.
Camilla uses my iPod to draw pictures, in color, by dragging her fingertip on a screen that is sensitive to her touches and also to the angle at which she holds it, on a computer the size of a few credit cards stacked together.
My mind boggles at the thought of what technology will look like by the time she is my age.
...and I'm officially rambling. Quick! Here's a cute picture to distract you from that fact!
May the rest of your Christmases be as delightful as the first part of ours has been!