Everyone has stories to tell about Christmas Eve, and that includes me. People with small children in the house who do the whole Santa thing know that you can’t just put presents under the tree. You have to wait until all hours of the night when the little rascals are tucked into bed and sound asleep to get the presents out of the hiding places scattered everywhere in the house and put them under the tree as if Santa actually came down the chimney – which our house doesn’t have Santa had to come right in the front door where we put the cookies and milk.
I did all of these things because I’ve felt compelled to be supermom. Compelled not by a desire to do everything superbly well and create memories that my children would cherish their whole lives. Nope. I’m just hyper. I do all kinds of stupid stuff because I can’t sit still. People think I’m productive and creative, when in reality I have things to show for my time because there has to be something really good on TV for me to veg out on the couch.
The other thing is my husband figured out a long time ago that if he refused to do something, like put together a bicycle or string Christmas lights, I’d do it. And yes, I’m getting to my point finally, which is why I think I deserve to be a Christmas Elf.
One year they wanted new bikes. There is nowhere at my house to hide one bike, much less two. And since Santa had to bring them, I asked one of my neighbors a few doors away if I could store the bikes at her house. She said yes, and offered the shed out back so that I could come and get them late at night without waking her.
We always go to midnight Mass. It wasn’t over until about 1:30 a.m. I got the kids home to bed, and that was easy enough because even though they were very, very excited and had helped put out the milk and cookies for Santa, they were also exhausted after spending Christmas Eve at Grandma’s and then the late church service. At 2:00 a.m. I walked up the dark street (we live in an area where the house lots are all ¾ acre so the houses are far apart and the street is woodsy and rural feeling). I took a flashlight, but it was very creepy in that shed. It wasn’t even a shed; it was a room in the foundation of the house on the backside, like an old-fashioned root cellar with a creaking door, low ceilings, and no doubt vermin and bats.
I tried to maneuver both bikes at one time because I had the eevy-jeevies and wanted to get done fast, but that lasted about three steps. So I left one and pushed the other out the door, up through the grass, and out into the street. I think there may have even been snow on the ground, or at least ice. Or maybe it was raining. Or a hailstorm. Or all of the above. But it could have just been a freezing cold, clear night. All I remember was pushing that little bike down the hill, trying to keep quiet so I didn’t get blasted with a shotgun or attacked by coyotes. I got it through the front door, positioned it in front of the tree, and went back out into the cold night and got the other one.
When I was done, around 2:30 a.m., I pulled out all of the presents that were hidden all over the house and put them under the tree, filled the stockings, turned off the lights, and crawled exhausted into bed. At 6:30 the kids zoomed in the room like rockets and sprang onto the bed. “Mom, Dad, wake up wake up it’s Christmas!” No argument could convince them to go back to bed for another three hours, so we got up. They ran down the hall into the living room and saw the new bikes. “LOOK LOOK, SANTA BROUGHT US BIKES – LOOK, MOM, LOOK!” I staggered in, dredged up some excitement in my voice, and said, “Look, he took a bite out of the cookies, too!”
I have spent many Christmas Eves like this, exhausted from last minute shopping, my husband’s family, wrapping, hiding, and retrieving presents, making candy and sending cards to people who probably don’t get many cards. I think I deserve the title of Honorary Elf, even if I only do all this stuff because I’d go nuts if I didn’t have something to do all the time. Like now – I still have to go wrap presents I bought last minute today and all I really want to do is climb into bed. My daughter wants “Santa” to come, though she’s 16 and plopped by the tree watching a Star Wars marathon. Crap, I may be up until 2:00 waiting for her to go to bed so I can put my stash of presents under the tree. It feels like old times.
Merry Christmas everyone from one of Santa’s official little helpers. Santa and I hope your Christmas Day is merry and bright!