Christmas began with my daughter’s eyes, still sleepy but sparkling with wonder as she looked up at me from her disheveled bed and I leaned down to kiss her. “I did hear him!” Her voice was pure excitement and I got my first taste of what fun Christmas is for the parents of little ones. “I did hear him and I looked but…” And the voice dropped to disappointment, “…but I couldn’t see him.” Her brow furrowed and her mouth turned down. I saw that the curtain was askew — she had indeed been up and looking, along with millions of other little believers all around the world.
“Do you think he came down the chimney? Do you think he brought us presents?”
“Shall we go see?!”
She took the stairs as fast as she dared in her footed pajamas — hardwood can be treacherously slippery, and she is still at the age where she has to hold on tight to the rail and take each step with both feet. When she got to the bottom and saw the pile of gifts, and the rocking horse wearing a festive gold bow, she looked back at me, full of amazement but unsure what she was meant to do.
“Who is that horse for?” I encouraged her.
“ME!!!” she blurted, pushing her hands together and hopping up and down. And then added, to my surprise, “…and …and my sister!!”
“Do you want to try it?” She stopped hopping and looked sheepish, and then touched the horse’s face, making him rock back and forth a little. I tried again, “Do you?”
“I…” she looked at me plaintively. “…I don’t want to get him wet.” Oh, my good girl! She was still in her overnight training pants and they would be full to bursting after doing the whole nightshift. I was more than a little stunned that my three year old could stand in front of a brand-new rocking horse and tree stacked with presents on Christmas morning, and still be so conscientious. I could hear her daddy getting E2 up and putting her in the bath — she is still too young to understand how wrong such a delay was on this particular morning and so made no complaint.
“Ok. Would you like to have your bath first with your sister?”
“Yeah!” There was visible relief on her face.
“And then when you’re dressed, we’ll come back down, and you two can open presents together?”
“Yeah!” The worry left her face completely now and she was happy again.
So I took her hand, and we went back upstairs, me following her sweet little bottom, covered in the fuzzy polka dots of her pajamas which couldn’t hope to hide the sagging pants behind them, as she held carefully onto the rail and painstakingly took each step with both feet. Christmas is exciting, for sure, but it’s a bit intimidating too, and — I mused later, as M and I got ourselves dressed to spend our first proper Christmas Day with my family in 15 years — it’s probably best faced fully dressed, and with a clean bum, and with your best friend next you for support.