Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Christmas Redux, Part II: Christmas Morning

It was actually Coco who woke up first on Christmas morning, and we woke Zuzu up together at 7:30am, which was lovely. I was able to brush my teeth and make coffee before the girls came downstairs! Zuzu was easy to wake and they were so sweet sitting together at the top of the stairs as we’d discussed the night before—I want to make it a tradition to take their picture there each Christmas morning, with their pjs and bedhead and sleepy baby faces.

Zuzu made us laugh because her first comment was that Santa hadn’t filled her stocking with candy. There was candy down in her stocking, but she had evidently had a very specific expectation of what it would look like (perhaps candy canes and lollipops spilling out of it?) and Santa’s presentation did not meet her expectations. But she was thrilled with what Santa brought her.

Maybe I overthink Christmas gifts, but I always want to get them things that will make Christmas feel magical and abundant, the way I remember it when I was a kid, but I also don’t want to get them too much—I don’t want it to be all about the stuff, I don’t want us to fill our house with loads of crappy toys that the girls don’t play with.  So I tried to strike that balance. Santa brought doll bunk beds (more info on those later)  as a joint gift for them to share, and then each of them got three wrapped gifts from Santa. Coco got Peppa Pig figurines, the new Oliver Jeffers book, and a new baby stroller. Zuzu slid over to the nice list just in time to get PJ Masks figurines, Barack Obama’s book Of Thee I Sing, and her most coveted gift—Princess Elena and Isabel dolls. He also brought matching pajamas for the girls that say “Little Girl, Big Dreams” on the front (and which I happen to know that Mrs. Claus selected for them before the election and then shed tears over after).

On Eliza’s birthday, I took the girls with me to Target to get shoes and toys for a family that a group at my university had adopted for Christmas. We were buying shoes and toys for an 11-year old boy and a 4 year old girl, so I let Zuzu choose the toy and she picked this set of two dolls based on some cartoon. Then she talked about how much SHE wanted that Elena and Isabel. In fact, when I asked her on Christmas Eve what gift she hoped most to get from Santa (a dangerous question, in retrospect), that’s what she said. Fortunately, Santa came through.

She was adorably astonished and appreciative of the gifts Santa brought. She said, “Santa even knew what I liked that wasn’t on my list!” She hadn’t asked for the PJ Masks characters, but she was pretty excited about them.

I was pretty excited about both books—they are both fabulous.

Another thing Santa picked up when swinging through the dollar spot at Target were these big rolled up maps of the US and the continents that are made to color. This was such a hit, as the girls spent a huge part of the day yesterday and all morning this morning happily coloring with their new markers, all spread out on the living room floor working on these big posters.

I was pleased that Zuzu liked the skirt we gave her. She also liked the magnet game we got for her. Coco was delighted with the rainbow umbrella that Zuzu wrapped up (and offered tremendous amount of unsolicited assistance unwrapping) for her, and Zuzu got really into the set of Shrinky Dinks that Coco wrapped and gifted to her. On a whim, I picked up a magnetic hour glass and gave it to both of them and they were pretty into it, too.  Another big hit was the cash register that David’s aunt sent for them. The kindergarteners at Zuzu’s school had a bake sale the week before Christmas break and Zuzu has been playing bake sale ever since, so I knew a cash register would be a big hit. Of course, David’s aunt selected the Cadillac of children’s cash registers, so it is a real working calculator with a scanner that beeps, a credit card slide that beeps, and a microphone that amplifies your voice and has that terrible squeaky feedback noise, just like the Kmart announcements from back in the day.

(By the end of the night, Coco was sneaking over to the cash register to yell “Poopoo Butt!” into the microphone, in the ultimate act of two-year-old naughty words.)

My parents saved most of their gifts for Christmas at their house, which was on Thursday after Christmas when when my brother and his wife (Uncle Buck and Auntie Jo) got to town, but they did bring up a cute little wooden craft table that’s perfect for the girls since they are really into drawing and coloring these days. 

By the end of the day, both girls were worn out. Coco asked to go back to bed at 10:30am, and lay in her crib for about 30 minutes before yelling for us to free her. She took a solid afternoon nap, though, and was ready for bed at her normal time. In our version of a Christmas miracle, Zuzu actually put herself to bed about 8:30pm!

It was really a pretty delightful day. The girls and I stayed in our pajamas all day long. We all spent the afternoon coloring and reading or playing with new toys. David fixed another fantastic dinner (Zuzu seriously couldn’t stop raving about the pasta with butter and parm that she was served, which cracked us all up: “I just LOVE this pasta! Do you love it, Coco? This dinner is my favorite! I just LOVE it!”

Eliza's stocking still makes me sad on Christmas morning, but I think I'm going to handle it next year by putting an ornament in it. For the past few years, I've participated in an ornament exchange with other BLMs, and each year I've received a beautiful ornament to commemorate Eliza. Although I always open the ornament and share a photo on IG, I think that next year instead of hanging it on the tree, I'll put it in her stocking after opening it. On Christmas morning, the girls can pull it out of Eliza's stocking and hang it on the tree, and it will be a small and happy way to acknowledge their sister.

After five Christmases of pretty heavy grief, this one was an excellent respite. It was such a lovely, easy day. We hung out, watched TV, and just enjoyed doing nothing. As sad as I am to say good-bye to the baby days, I’m also reminding myself that we have much to look forward to the years of doing puzzles and reading novels and seeing movies and having Christmas evolve with our family. 


  1. The five-year mark does seem to have some special healing powers. I felt the same way as you about Christmas this year. Our day was a lot like yours, very happy and relaxing, though neither of my kids put themselves to bed. Christmas finally seemed normal, or as normal as it ever will be for us.

    That feeling has carried forward into 2017, and I find myself really wanting to plan for the future. I remember the grief books saying that many families need five years to feel normal. And I remember thinking I would never survive that long. But here we all are.

  2. Brooke, I have been having trouble commenting from my laptop... Typing on my phone sucks, so this will be brief, lol, but I wanted to say I'm so glad you had a better Christmas this year. And I love your Eliza tradition! <3