Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas was a rip-roaring success. That is not to say that it all went off without a dash of trouble and a dollop of trauma. It would not be Christmas, otherwise, right? My poor Lucas had a rough Christmas Eve. I am afraid that I am mostly to blame for his troubles. For weeks, I had been telling my kids that they better make sure they get to bed on time on Christmas Eve or Santa would not come. I went into great detail explaining exactly why they needed to remain in their own beds on Christmas Eve. If Santa came and saw their empty beds, he would assume no children were home and would pass right over out house. I admit that I had ulterior motives in constantly reiterating this to my children. I wanted one...just one....night of sleeping in my bed without three kids crowding me. I wanted to sleep without an elbow in my ear or a knee in my crotch. For just one night, I wanted to sleep the sleep of a childless woman. That's right...I wanted a Christmas miracle.

By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I felt confident that I might just get my Christmas miracle. At 6:30pm, all three of my kids...completely of their accord and without our asking...went to their bedrooms and put on their pajamas. They practically begged us to brush their teeth and put them to bed. So we did. All three kids were nestled all snug in their beds by 7:00pm. Ruanita and I sat in the living room watching A Christmas Story (only the BEST holiday movie ever made!), waiting to hear the exquisite sound of our children snoring. We wanted to get the Santa business over with quickly and get to bed. Rather than sugarplums, I had visions of a full night's sleep dancing in my head.

Despite their giggly excitement, Sophie and Nicholas fell asleep surprisingly quickly. Lucas, on the other hand, struggled. Like every other child on Christmas Eve, Lucas was excited about Santa's arrival and was having trouble calming his enthusiasm enough to fall asleep. Unlike every other child on Christmas Eve, Lucas' anxiety reared its ugly head. Several times, he came out of his room to tell us that he was having trouble falling asleep. We explained that his troubles were perfectly normal for an excited little boy and that he should try thinking of relaxing thoughts to calm his mind. He tried, but continued to come out of his room. Finally, at about 9:00, I asked if it would help if I came to his room and laid down with him. He thought that might help, so I laid in bed with him with my arm around him to try to calm him. I laid there for all of five minutes before Lucas said, "Mom, you can go back in the living room now." Apparently, spooning with his momma in a little twin bed is not a seven-year-old boy's idea of a good time. Go figure. We continued to send him back to his room every time he came out. I tried a second attempt at laying with him to no avail. He was getting more anxious and less sleepy by the minute.

By 11:00pm, Lucas was in tears. His excitement had disintegrated into anxiety hours before. He was so convinced that Santa was going to pass our house by that he had worked himself up into a tizzy. There was no chance in hell he was going to fall asleep. It didn't help that, prior to heading to bed, the kids and I had been watching Santa's progress online on NORAD's Santa tracker. Lucas was well aware that Santa had already delivered to all of Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. He had seen with his own eyes (and Lucas is a firm believer that anything on the internet is gospel truth) that Santa was in South America and headed north when he went to bed at 7pm. He was certain Santa would arrive at any moment, take one look at Lucas wide awake, and fly right past our house. He looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said, "It's okay if Santa does not bring me any presents." My heart broke in half at that very moment.

We decided that Lucas needed a distraction to calm his mind, so we had him come in the living room with us. He laid on the couch with Ruanita. We turned off all the lights and turned on one of Lucas' favorite science documentaries on Netflix. Any other day, Lucas would have been completely engrossed. However, that night, Lucas just stared at the ceiling and fretted. The worry in the room was palpable. It had a weight and a presence. I could practically see it weighing Lucas down.

Finally at 11:30pm, we decided that we had all had enough. We had a problem, however. We had come to the unfortunate conclusion that Lucas was not going to relax enough to go to sleep until we broke down and took him upstairs to sleep in our room. However, all of the kids' presents from Santa were stashed (ceiling-high) in a closet in our bedroom. I left Ruanita staring blankly at a science documentary (not exactly something she enjoys) and Lucas staring teary-eyed at the ceiling while I went upstairs to move the presents. I took every present from the closet and moved them to the office adjoining our bedroom. I then shut the office door and went back downstairs. I am not sure what Ruanita told Lucas I was doing, but I left the task of creating my alibi up to her. When I got back downstairs, it was near midnight and I announced that we were all going to head upstairs and go to bed. Lucas, completely defeated, declared a second time that he did not care if Santa did not bring him any presents.

We made our way upstairs, tucked Lucas warmly and comfortably into the oversized chair in our bedroom and climbed into bed ourselves. We lay there in the dark whispering about our plan for the evening, trying desperately not to fall asleep. We listened intently to the sound of Lucas' breathing. It was 12:30am. We were treading dangerously close to the time that Sophie and Nicholas began their nightly ritual of waking up and trudging upstairs to get in our bed. We had to work quickly. Finally, we were convinced that Lucas was asleep. Ruanita snuck over to the chair to confirm our belief, peered at him, checked his breathing, and finally gave me the thumbs up sign. We stealthily snuck into the office and carried bags of presents downstairs to the living room. I began to fill stockings and assemble the presents under the tree while Ruanita made trips up and down the stairs to carry all of the presents down. At one point, I heard a small sound like the coo of a dove. I looked up to see Nicholas peeking around the corner at me. As quick as a flash, Ruanita stuck her hand in his face and demanded he get back into bed. Nicholas did not make a single sound and ran back to his bed as quickly as his skinny little legs could carry him. Luckily for us, he did not appear to remember it the next morning. Regardless, Ruanita stood vigilant guard in the doorway separating the living room from the kids' rooms, huffing and puffing from her multiple trips up the stairs, while I continued to toss presents under the tree.

Santa had brought a little stocking of treats for our cat, as well. Our intention was to leave it under the tree, but we quickly realized the absurdity of that plan when the cat began batting around the stocking of catnip-filled toys and jumping from present to present trying to tackle it. Did I mention that the stocking had a bell on it, too? So there I was...trying to be as quiet as possible, wrestling a ringing stocking from a catnip-jonesing cat amidst piles of gifts being massacred by sharp 12:30 am. Not my idea of a fun Christmas Eve. I did, however, finally get the stocking from her and we decided Santa would hide it in the child-proofed cabinet by her food...away from the be found in the morning. We checked on the kids and headed up to bed.

Of course, I laid in bed and worried about my poor little anxious baby boy that evening. I lamented the sadness of a little boy so overcome with anxiety that Christmas Eve was turned into a night of tears instead of joys. A little boy so wracked with worry that his mind could not relax enough to find peace on the most peaceful night of the year. I wondered what the future holds for a boy who finds the world such a scary and worrisome place at the fledgling age of seven years old. I prayed for a joy-filled future for him. I prayed that he finds peace. I prayed that he finds comfort and serenity. I finally drifted off to sleep at 1:30am.

At 5:00 on the dot the following morning, Ruanita and I awoke to the sounds of Lucas rolling around in the chair in our bedroom. He then bolted upright and ran down the stairs. A few minutes later, he was standing at the side of our bed. With a catch in his throat, he announced, "Mom! Santa came! I was looking at the presents and I think there are even some for me." I grabbed him and hugged him and said, "Of course there are presents for you, Lucas. You are a good boy and Santa knows it."

And he is a good boy. He is an amazing boy. I watched him open his presents that morning with joyful abandon. The gifts were appreciated that much more because he honestly thought he would not receive any. He may be a worrier. He may be plagued with anxiety. But he is also capable of immense jubilance. He is happy and sweet and sensitive and loving. He is everything I would ever want a little boy to be.

I did not receive my Christmas miracle. I did not sleep the sleep of a childless woman, as I had hoped. But in the end, that was perfectly okay with me. I am not a childless woman, and I would not have it any other way.


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