We set off for Bishy's on the 23rd; the recent bad weather in the UK meant that we wanted to try to avoid getting stuck on some motorway in the freezing cold, and we were pleased that we got there before dark and that the ride was pretty smooth. I had packed up the car with the boys here that morning, and we met Matt who had gone in for a half day. I spent about half an hour stuck in the exact same place we were when we missed our flight this summer, but fortunately there was no real rush this time!
Christmas Eve was lots of fun as we built up the imminent arrival of Santa. We laid out some cookies and milk, and some carrots for the reindeer, a tradition I remember doing as a child. Blake got into the true meaning of Christmas by arranging a little scene with a stuffed hedgehog as the Baby Jesus and some dinosaurs lined up who seemed to be the Wise Men. He kept cradling the hedgehog so tenderly; it was hilarious. After the boys were asleep, I then went off to the local church with one of Elizabeth's friends to the midnight mass (fortunately it didn't start at midnight, but 11:15, and I'd had an afternoon nap with Noah so was feeling pretty rested). Elizabeth, on the other hand, was sharing a room with Blake and had woken up sometime around 6:00 am when he did, and did not have a nap (and cooked several meals for us), so she was ready for bed! The service was nice, with a few poignant carols, and it was somewhat magical to make the short walk back home with our feet crunching on the snow, and with the sky clear and bright. I filled up the boys' stockings at the feet of their beds - well, the travel cot in Noah's case - and laid out their "Santa presents" on the sofa before calling it a night. Blake was getting a space shuttle and Noah some little bug stackers. I hadn't actually even thought to get Noah something until a few days before, when I realized that for Blake's sake I needed for Santa to bring Noah something too!
On Christmas morning, I heard Blake's excited voice at 5:34; it took me a minute to realize that he and Bishy were already downstairs so he must have been up for at least 10 minutes or so by that point. Santa must not have received my letter requesting that Blake sleep in on Christmas Day! Once I'd recovered from the disappointment of its being soooo early, I headed downstairs to see what he thought of his present. They were admiring it but struggling with the packaging, which seemed to be a theme of the day. Everything was tied down with these wire twists that took an absolute age to get off, but once we got the space shuttle and its base extracted from all the packaging, Blake did enjoy discovering all the things it did. Noah, as I probably could have predicted, had eyes only for the space shuttle or whatever Blake was doing, so the bug stackers were probably superfluous to the day. Watching him gaze at Blake's antics - in awe? bewilderment? admiration? envy? - makes me smile and marvel at what a different view to life he must have to what Blake had at the same age. To think that Blake had no similar Tasmanian Devil swirling around him constantly, such relatively less action in comparison, and just us to dote on him...I just can't imagine how differently they must have viewed and view the world as 9-month-old's!
The rest of the day was nice; we opened presents leisurely, had a call with Grandpa John and Granny Karla who were in snowy Asheville with the Barretts, and enjoyed a delicious Christmas Day meal once Peter and his elder son Charlie had arrived from Ashow. I definitely felt that Christmas is meant for the young, and the old (and I classify myself with that label) just end up exhausted from everything. I was treated the next day by a very lazy Boxing Day, where I got to go back to sleep until about noon. I think I only got dressed at about 1:00 pm. Maybe Santa just got my letter a day late, because all I did ask for was a little extra sleep. Or maybe it was just his way of thanking me for leaving out the milk and cookies...