A Christmas cookie for breakfast? Why, yes, I think I will, thank you!
The parsonage isn’t very well insulated, so I was able to hear the wind howling through the door frame last night and again this morning. Not the kind of frighteningly brain-jarring howl of the wind ripping at the storm windows that I recall from my childhood winters in New York, mind you — more like a low-level “Woooooo!” that would rise and fall every few minutes. ‘Tis the type of sound effect that one might find useful in a haunted house on Halloween.
Into this wind we ventured at 7:30 a.m. on the way to the Christmas morning opening of gifts at my sister-in-law’s house, just a bit over a mile down the road. With our niece visiting us for a couple of days, this meant four of us rousting ourselves out of bed at six o’clock on a non-workday so that all of us could get in and out of the shower on time. We have just the one bathroom, although there are always the church rest rooms just next door for emergencies when someone has to go pee right now!
The hour of 7:30 was selected by our other niece, based on the approximate time that her little one usually wakes up. After all, that’s what it’s all about. Our two year old grandniece would be walking into the living room to survey the bounty bestowed by Santa. We knew her reaction would be priceless and we wanted to be there for it.
So out into the early morning cold we went, the biting wind just tearing right through however many layers you piled on. We arrived a few minutes late and I hoped we hadn’t missed the big moment. Trying the front door and finding it locked, I proceeded to knock while my wife extricated Pastor Mom from our vehicle. Mom recently underwent shoulder surgery and has her arm in a sling, so car travel remains a bit of a trial. In honor of the day, I started out with the “Jingle Bells” knock. No answer. I proceeded to the tried and true “shave and a haircut, two bits.” No dice. Finally, I just tried knocking continuously. Then I gave up and rang the doorbell. At that very moment, my nephew opened the door, clad only in his underwear and wrapped in a comforter. No one was even awake yet.
It didn’t take long for the household to come to life. People stumbled out of bed and appeared in the living room. Our niece returned from an errand to pick up our nephew, who has been carless since a friend attempted to repair his ride sufficiently to get it to pass smog, instead succeeding in getting it to a point where it won’t even start.
Our little grandniece ended up being carried into the living room by her grandma, neither of them quite awake yet. Miss Piggy and Kermit were singing “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” through the speaker of someone’s phone. The two year old began inspecting the pile beneath the tree, rather tentatively at first, and then with increasing abandon. She refused to wear her new pale blue princess dress and tiara, instead preferring to rip open gift wrapping in nothing but a diaper and a smile. Last night, she removed her onesie in front of everyone while we were enjoying our Christmas Eve tamales. When I called her Lady Godiva, her mom, still a teenager, admitted that she didn’t understand the reference unless I happened to be talking about chocolate.
The little one’s favorite gift turned out to be one of her least expensive presents: A small stuffed Barney that sings the cloying “I love you, you love me” song. Its purple arms are perpetually outstretched, inviting a hug from all. We all hope that she doesn’t expect her toy Barney to revert to life size in a starburst of fairy dust.
My vote for best gift of the day, however, goes to a present received by my niece: A cedar hope chest complete with beautiful heirloom quilts sewn in years past by family members now gone but fondly remembered.
As for ourselves, our favorite gift was a Keurig coffee maker, one of those fancy modern doodads that you just throw a pod into and push your cup under the spout. My wife admits to having wanted one of those, which I find a little strange since the two of us are tea drinkers. However, that may be about to change. Particularly if that box of decaf Donut Shop coffee is anything like what I used to get at Dunkin’ Donuts back in New York all those years ago.