I awoke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and chatter coming from the kitchen. I kicked the warm covers away and began to stretch to waken my body when Champ let out an exhausted yawn. He placed his sleepy head on my lap and with his tail happily wagging. I reached my hands down to scratch the sweet spot behind his ears and in return, he planted a slobbering lick across my face. I chuckled trying to get him to stop and as if it were contagious, I could hear the laughter that roared from the kitchen. I couldn’t help but smile.
What a blessed way to wake up on Christmas Eve morning.
I made my way to the kitchen. Shawn and Chunky looked up from their places at the table and greeted me with excited smiles. I could see that the tree was lit in the living room, ready for the night’s celebration. Christmas music softly played from the radio as Shawn and I discussed what needed to be cooked, baked, and cleaned in preparation for the night’s festivities. We both took in a breath before we left the table, knowing that it was going to be an extremely busy few days, but this time?
This time, I was ready.
I finished the sugar cookies with Chunky’s assistance and packaged them in Christmas tins for family members. Each tin was decorated with a wooden tag hand painted with love from Chunky.
The baking and cooking bonanza ensued into the early afternoon. The intoxicating deliciousness of smells lured taste testers and cookie stealers too anxious to wait till nightfall. Chunky and I danced to music while we waited for the oven timer to chime and even Shawn jumped in a dance or two around the kitchen. My kitchen that day?
Felt so full of happiness.
Before we knew it, it was almost time for early mass at church. I think that we cleaned up rather well wouldn’t you say?
The church was jammed to the hallways full of people. We couldn’t find our family members amongst the crowds of faces. We took a seat at the back of the church when an older couple offered it to us. The generosity and compassion and unity among the church goers always gives me a sense of hope in humanity.
I just wished that people carried this with them the 364 other days of the year.
We hurried home after church to pull out food and spirits for my family. That night, my home housed happiness…
…and laughter with a dash of silliness and family love.
And when Chunky began rubbing his eyes, Shawn and I retreated upstairs with him to leave cookies and beer for Santa. I was so thankful to be able to witness the magic in those beautiful eyes as he said “Night, night Santa.” (PS. Yes, he owns a pink soo soo. It’s his fav.)
But the best magic came on Christmas morning…
We left our home in a hurry to get to Tim Horton’s before the church rush hit. We drank our coffees while driving to my in-law’s to see what Santa had left there for Chunky and the kids. Santa always spoils them at Gram and Pips.
By the time we were finished it was early afternoon. We had just enough time to make it home and shower before heading to my parents for dinner and for more spoiling. I was looking mostly forward to my Mom’s home cooking. No one cooks a bird better than my Mom.
When our bellies were overly stuffed with goodness, we packed up the car one final time and headed back to the in-laws. By that time, my back was completely exhausted and I retreated to a quiet corner of the room. I sat back and watched how the children’s faces lit up with excitement, my parents laughing as they mingled with my in-laws and extended family, my husband swinging my son as they danced to Pipi’s guitar, as the desserts were passed around the table, the women chuckled over how their husbands wrestled with toy assemblies, as the shots were poured and toasted to another successful Christmas together….
…and how the room glowed with an unending love.
As I watched all of this unfold, my soul felt full.
This is Christmas.