As the kids got older, Christmas changed. I didn’t mind all the work it took to make Christmas memorable but I wanted someone to appreciate everything I did during the holidays. I wanted someone to acknowledge the fact that I saved the money for gifts, I shopped, I cooked, I decorated, I wrapped, I cleaned, and I dismantled Christmas and put it away at the end of the month. My husband was not home long enough to even get a tree some years and using an artificial tree just didn’t make the house smell like Christmas.
At some point, I started giving the kids the gift of a trip instead of toys, and the stockings were filled with practical items, and candy. Our church no longer had a Christmas Eve service and I could hardly stay awake long enough to play Santa because the kids stayed up much later than I did. Eventually, Santa didn’t come until seven in the morning, when I ate his cookies with a mug of Constant Comment. I sat alone in the dark living room watching the tree lights blink, waiting for everyone else to wake up. This became my Christmas morning routine. It may be a few steps beyond normal, but I always enjoy the calm before the storm.