12 hours up, 15 and a half hours back. Two kids very tolerant of Christmas car rides. 3 cold rainy days with much to be desired behavior and 3 days of great weather and the picture perfect family. A nice time with family, getting a chance to see how much my niece has grown and an awesome Christmas. Finishing up with a much unexpected New Years Eve celebration.
It started off with a technological first. We all know that Santa is a very busy man on Christmas Eve, but for the past 51 years, he has been able to spend a little extra time with families in Virginia Beach. My parent’s Christmas party is always a final stop before he begins making his rounds.
Since we wouldn’t be there this year to see Santa, he ditched his fear of technology and set up a Skype call with Nolin and Grace. Nolin was floored. He never noticed that the picture of Santa froze (although the sound was still there), and after the call was over he kept asking if we could call Santa again.
Well it was finally here, the day I have been waiting for since May…Christmas Eve. After finishing a very successful Christmas Shopping excursion, we got Nolin ready and headed off to Christmas Eve mass. In order to get a seat we had to get there about 45 minutes early, so by about 25 minutes into the actual service Nolin was getting antsy…after all Santa Clause would be arriving shortly.
Nolin and I headed out to the foyer for what I thought would be just a minute, but then found out that people who are standing in the back of church are not very cordial to those who had a seat and left it. Every time we would try to get back in people would not budge, so we finished mass in the foyer and talking to some people (who were in the same boat) that I went through RCIA classes with.
As we entered the neighborhood, we got the call…Santa was approaching in T-minus 10 minutes. He was making a special detour from his route to come and see Nolin before it got too late as his stop list grew significantly this year. This was one of those moments that you love to be a parent. Nolin was floored. I know that he didn’t get it, but it was pretty cool to think that he did somehow understand what was going on, The excitement on his face was priceless as were Santa’s slightly misty eyes, but just like a pro, Santa made it a perfect moment.
After Santa left to visit other children, we braved the frigid weather and went to visit friends at Kim’s house, and then headed back for my parent’s annual Christmas Eve party. Nolin didn’t last too long at the party, but he stole the show during his brief appearance.
This year’s party was not as rowdy as year’s past. Erin fell asleep on the couch while people were still there, Hap did the Irish goodbye and Jenn and I helped my parents bring down all the presents (something that has only happened once or twice in the past 33 years). We also weren’t greeted at 7am with my Dad knocking on the door screaming Santa’s been here…yes even in my 30’s we still line up at the top of the stairs at 7am Christmas morning so my parents can watch us wake up to a Christmas miracle.
It took Nolin a second, but he quickly started exploring packages. I think he was a bit overwhelmed…I mean what is a kid to do when there is so much tissue paper to play with and then toys all around, so he was a little slow to open all of his Christmas presents, but he sure did have a good time. Especially with his Big Present from my parents.
I have always heard that one of the greatest things about being a grandparent is that you can get your kids back for everything they did to you growing up. Well my parents decided to get Nolin a Radio Flyer Bumper Car. Some toy genius had the great idea to have the car make different noises every time you run into walls or something else…nothing like positive reinforcement. Nolin loved it, and Home Depot will too with all the extra paint I have to buy to repair the walls.
That afternoon we started hearing stories of a pending snowstorm of about 2-4 inches that we should be getting either later in the afternoon or early evening. Well I’ve heard that before. Typically what ends up happening is Virginia Beach gets two snowflakes and we can call it a day. The conditions didn’t seem likely for even two snowflakes and by the end of dinner my brother with his Super Doppler Radar senses was assuredly declaring that there would not be any snow. As usual, the weather people were wrong…2-4 inches quickly turned into 10+ inches.
It was awesome for Nolin’s first Christmas to be a White Christmas and it also provided a great excuse just to stay inside with family. We’re all busy and home visits quickly become a hectic rush of brief hellos, so it was refreshing to do nothing, but spend quality time with my family (and a little in the snow)…as you grow older, you start to realize that this is what Christmas should really be about.