I was on the road at midnight when the day turned from Christmas Eve to Christmas, crossing into Pennsylvania. An hour later, I very quietly – I mean really, really quietly, entered my parents’ house, determined not to stir Twin Nephs and prompt them to come out asking if Santa had arrived. Instead I found their mother, Sister 1, framed in an idyllic scene. She slept peacefully on the brown leather couch, covered in a red blanket and backlit by the string of white lights that decorated the mantle where the creche awaited the baby Jesus. She had waited up for me… or tried. I took a picture in my mind before I gently woke her so she could go to bed.
The Norman Rockwell moments continued in slightly different charm as I bedded down with Sister 3. Others may have been dreaming of a white Christmas. Sister 3 was apparently dreaming of karate. I was a crooked jerky jockey who had driven her crooked hoss with a back kinked by muscle spasm, only to share a bed with Twitchy McGee for six hours of short winter’s naps interrupted by cautious repositioning on my part and wild fits of flopping on hers.
Still, it was Christmas, and we were glad to be together.
At “seven zewo zewo” on the digital clock, Twin Nephs stormed the bedroom with trumpeted announcements of Santa’s visit. Neph 1 forcibly removed the covers from my person and demanded that I arise. He’s much more of a morning person than his brother, who is usually very quiet upon waking, but not today. Today was not an occasion for quiet upon waking.
Presents, presents, presents! Santa knew the twins had been good boys this year. Amazingly, the first gift that garnered screams of joy from Neph 1 was a safety helmet. Neph 2 was less impressed, but feigned happiness for his brother’s benefit. Neph 1, weeks before, had demanded that someone “take these crazy things off me!” after his first try at roller skating. Neph 2, ever different from his brother, had kissed pavement 10 minutes in and scored a goose egg on his head, only to jubilantly request another go.
Neph 1 was worried for his brother’s safety. Hence the helmets. But they’ll get other use as well, since my parents gave the boys their first training-wheeled bikes for Christmas. Out on the deck in the cold after all the other gifts were opened, the grown-ups waited with cameras at the ready in various stages of pajama’d dress, looking like fools for ten minutes while the twins found shoes to put over their footie PJs and coats to don, though they knew not why. They payoff was a bit of a letdown, since the boys didn’t shriek with joy, but they did try to ride around the deck for a bit before breakfast.
After the holiday strata and a dose of my father’s Naprosyn, I hit the showers. I only had until 11:30 before I needed to leave for my road trip to work. Sister and BIL 2, along with Youngest Neph, arrived with 30 minutes to spare. Youngest Neph cared nothing for opening my gift; he had fallen asleep on the way over the river to grandmother’s house and now was feeling grumpy. No matter; his red fuzzy blanket sleepered self was all I needed to see.
The day at work was light and we made merry with a “Christmas Story” theme, one coworker donating a leg lamp and all of us paying our own way for Chinese food to be delivered, since the company couldn’t scrounge up a few bucks to provide for us. I settled for bits of carrot and peas (which I don’t even like) in my chicken fried rice instead of red and green sugar sprinkles for the Christmas repast. Late, I carried my crooked self home with music from my favorite mix of choral arrangements before capping the holy night with a video chat to friends in Australia and a glass of wine by the tree.
Then I Rockwelled myself up the steps and into my otherwise unoccupied bed for a long winter’s nap this time, glad of a long day of cheer, and the gift of anti-inflammatories and ice packs.