Lisa's Lines

My baby, 4-year-old Ellen, starred as the angel in her preschool’s Christmas program. She looked beautiful and stood elegantly with her arms span over little Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. She and all of her classmates did well.

I struggled to hold back tears. Watching little ones bring the Christmas story to life and sing Christmas songs always makes me emotional, but this year was extra emotional because it marked the last Christmas that I’ll have a precious preschooler. I’ll miss those adorable programs.

Yes, both my girls will continue to be involved in Christmas programs through the years, but there’s just something extra special about preschool. The kids are radiantly innocent and the program is heart-felt and adorable. It’s the perfect reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and the beauty of child-like faith.

I hope you and yours enjoyed a Merry Christmas and will have a happy and healthy new year.

*****

Christmas always shines a light on family differences.

No, I’m not talking about hot-button topics like religion and politics. I’m talking about the basics, like Uno rules. Yes, the card game.

Either you’re a family that draws Uno cards until you can play (and laughs hysterically as one person holds half the deck) or you’re a sweet family that insists you only pick up one card. There’s really no in-between.

Same goes for gift opening.

There are those who sit in a circle at Christmastime and patiently wait their turn while each person opens one present at a time.

And then, there are those families who just go for it. They let the wrapping paper and boxes fly, yell thank yous from across the room, and take inventory of everyone’s gifts only after all packages are opened.

When people of the opposite Uno-playing and Christmas-gift-opening families marry… It gets interesting.

I grew up in a draw-until-you-can-play and wrapping-paper-flying family, and I loved it! It was exciting and fun, and it made for great memories. My husband’s roots run deep in the draw-only-one-card and organized-gift-opening ancestry. Being the logical, organized man he is, he loved it.

Our children are living the collision of the two worlds.

They’re learning to roll with it because they encounter both worlds at extended family Christmases.

Both traditions are good. Both are fun. But, deciding how our immediate, family-of-four’s Christmas morning celebration will play out has been interesting.

At first, it was easy. It was just the two of us (and John let me open my presents first). Then, Anna was born and we fussed over her. Then, Ellen, daughter #2, came along and rocked our world. Only one person can open the FIRST present, and waiting turns to open gifts with little kids is tough—and tiresome. So, even though it went against every fiber in John’s body, we’ve become a wrapping-paper-flying family. I love it. I think he’s getting used to it.

When our girls wake up Christmas morning and speed downstairs, their excitement is contagious! I love watching them dive into their gifts and be surrounded by piles of wrapping paper and boxes. John and I usually sit together on the couch and watch the fun, capturing photos and various video clips until the flying ribbons and bows have settled. After the mayhem, the girls dig out the “mom and dad” gifts from under the tree and watch us open them.

Then, we hang out in our pajamas, tinker with their new toys, and try to round up all the necessary batteries. It’s good. It’s really good.

And, there’s a bonus. My husband can’t stand the mess. So, if I time it right, he usually has it all picked up before I locate the final battery.

Those organized, pick-only-one-card-Uno-playing people are pretty lovable.

*****

School picture day is my least favorite day of the school year.

Now that I have two little ladies in school, getting them ready for their school photo shoot is a massive, time-consuming, and frustrating task.

Both of them have long hair, refuse to get it cut, and don’t sit well while I attempt to style it (run a brush through it and throw it in braids). Reaching for the curling iron is risky.

Both girls happily agree to pre-selected outfits the night before and then FREAK OUT in the morning about not wanting THOSE outfits. They proceed to change a dozen times before finally—FINALLY—exiting their rooms with the most outrageous, non-coordinating outfits they could possibly dig out, along with a magnitude of accessories from their jewelry boxes. By that time, there have been tears and temper tantrums (mommy included), and there just isn’t time to fight / change clothes… and mommy has given up caring about what they look like.

It’s not a lovely morning in our home.

The only saving grace is that school photos are usually from the waist up, so only half of the ridiculous ensembles will be frozen in time.

Last year, my preschooler, Ellen, INSISTED on wearing a princess crown for school photos. I held my ground and removed the crown before she left the house. She went to school sobbing with big, red blotchy cheeks and snot running down her face. The result? A no-smile (more like a glare) school photo. It’s framed in our living room and serves as a lovely reminder of our annual morning of chaos that is school picture day.

When the photos are finally sent home, I brace myself as I pull them from their crinkly packets. There’s always a surprise. One year, Anna redid her hair. The year before that, she glazed on some hot pink lip gloss.

Don’t get me wrong, I do treasure each of their school photos. And, I’m sure I will miss these days (after the memories of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad school picture mornings fade), but the adorable / slightly hilarious photos should always bring a smile.