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I woke this morning at 6am (yes, Christmas Eve and a day off for the whole household–awake at 6am) from a dream in which I was screaming the F-word at my young son because he refused to stop playing video games long enough to open Christmas presents. Fantastic parenting all the way around. In my own dream.

My husband thinks I may be projecting some anger from our oldest son to our youngest in my dream world. You think?

I was so angry, tight chest and all, that I couldn’t get back to sleep. When I told my husband about the dream, having conveniently awakened him with my tossing and turning, he said it was the ghost of bad Christmases past. I’m not sure how anyone who has shared custody of children that everybody loves avoids bad Christmases because we never figured it out. Instead, I have many to look back on and cringe at the insensitivity of all involved and, most particularly, of the self-absorption of the adults. I don’t know if two sets of presents and lots of extra grandparents and aunts and uncles with presents made up for all of this. And if I’m waking with nightmares, I wonder how my two oldest children feel. Happy thoughts to start off the two day Christmas extravaganza.

Then I was awake, reflecting on Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful concept–the eve before the feast of Christ’s birthday (celebrated), waiting for the light in the dark of winter (there’s mud on the ground and the barest dusting of snow this morning in our northern climate). What does a person do on Christmas Eve? Wait. Americans are no longer good at waiting. I’m not very good at waiting.

It’s really just like any other day, but it feels like I should be doing something of great import. Making sweet treats with my children while Norman Rockwell sketches us. Snuggling up before a fireplace with my beloved while a jewelry store jingle plays in the background. Working at a soup kitchen.

Sitting in the kitchen this morning, watching me clean the cookbook shelves (that was my solution to how to wait, at least this morning) my husband looked at all of the Christmas cards hanging on our patio door and said, “Do we send Christmas cards?”
Ah, the royal We.
“We normally do. I normally send them the weekend of Thanksgiving, but this Thanksgiving was a little weird, as you might remember.”
Weird. No big family dinner following the deaths of my maternal grandfather and uncle. A family split into pieces, each celebrating with their smaller family units. A homespun memorial for my husband’s grandfather in a family that spawned a minister, but can’t bring themselves to sit in a church. And the news that our son had stolen a large sum of money from his uncle. Weird. Needless to say, no cards were mailed.

And then time slipped away (cue Bruce Springsteen) and still no cards.

He’s out on bail. We have no idea if he will show up to any Christmas celebrations. We’re divided about whether or not we want him to. And we’re not sleeping well.

So for diversion, I just checked out the Inappropriate Elf Contest. Which led me, in a roundabout way, to this. And now I’m laughing. Thank you, wonders of the Interwebs. Merry Christmas Eve to you, too.