We started a Christmas family tradition when the kids were bitty babies. One day between Thanksgiving and Christmas we would tuck them snugly in bed and sneak out to the kitchen to pop popcorn and make hot chocolate. With anticipation we would come into their rooms and swoop them up out of bed and bundle them in their coats. Heading to the car they would ask where we were going and we would reply, “Crazy!”
Each year we would play Christmas music on the radio and drive around town looking at the Christmas lights on all the houses while they sipped hot cocoa and ate popcorn. It was a magical sort of night -all of us dressed in our pajamas driving around.
Then the children got bigger. And each year they would hoot and holler when we would pick a night they weren’t expecting. Or they would just plain forget that year – until we would sneak into their rooms after bed. Each year they would purpose to not be surprised. And we took great pride in surprising them. One year I snuck the popcorn popper to the basement so they wouldn’t hear it running. Another I was sick in bed all day, but crawled out to catch them unawares.
And then they got bigger still. And they started going to bed after us. Gone were the pj’s and sleepy dreams in their eyes, but the wonder of the night still was captured.
And then they got bigger again. This year, they have jobs and college classes and friends and it seemed every night one of them was not home. James and I plotted and planned, waiting for the perfect night. We had found directions to places we planned to visit and waited with excitement for the perfect night. As Christmas neared our hearts worried this year they would remember. This year they wouldn’t be surprised. After 16 years of surprises, would this be the year the magic of Christmas would end?
Going Crazy 2015
After a long day of life about two weeks ago, I am crashed out in front of the tv watching the final episode of season 2 of Doctor Who. Catie comes home from seeing a movie with friends at 10:30 and pops in to tell me she’s home and going to get something to eat. I turn my mind back to the show. With eight minutes left she comes running up the stairs calling for me. I pause the show and she says the toilet downstairs is overflowing. In my selfless, caring way I promptly reply, “Get Dad!” She INSISTS she needs me. At my resistance she says Dad needs me to bring towels, lots of towels NOW. I hear Jon calling James from the basement with the same concern overflowing toilet.
Heading downstairs I don’t see anyone in the bathroom, but rather hear a confused James in the kitchen asking where the overflowing toilet is – and the children hushing him. Having absolutely no idea what is going on, I head down the stairs into the kitchen and am greeted with a bag of popcorn and a thermos of hot tea. “We’re going crazy!” They both shout.
I stand there stunned, my mind racing trying to figure out the twist of events. Slowly I realize what is happening. Our kids have grown up. They head James and I out to the warmed up car with blankets already in the backseat. A planned Christmas list of music plays from Jon’s phone in the front seat. As we munch on our popcorn they begin their GPS route around town to show us lights. Chatting away in the front seat they ask us to pick out our favorite lights or comment on a style or color of lights – just like James and I have done with them for years.
Magical. I am smiling at their love and creativity. I am shocked that they surprised me – a feat not easily accomplished. My heart is happy to see a family tradition change and take shape into something new. Sitting in the back seat we ponder for the first time what it will be like that Christmas night when our children buckle their children into the backseat with hot cocoa and popcorn. And then our minds turn to plotting how to out-do this Christmas next Christmas!