It was the Sunday before Elliott's December 18th birthday. We were driving to church in pouring down rain when Katie asked me "what are you going to do if it rains next week when you (santa) are trying to build the boys' swing-set?"
I said "I don't know, probably wear a poncho." Knowing that she was worried about santa delivering their big present, my short and somewhat sarcastic answer probably did nothing to alleviate her concern. I tried to reassure her by adding "all I know is come Christmas morning, Santa will have delivered their swing-set."
I didn't realize at the time what a challenge I had laid down for myself and Papa Hoss, Santa's life-saving helper. For it wasn't rain, but an unlikely December snowstorm that we had to deal with. Fifteen inches of snow covered the section of yard where Santa planned to drop his over-sized load. It would make for a very interesting week for Santa and many others.
Papa Hoss and Gigi arrived on Friday, Elliott and Papa's birthday, just as the snow had begun to fall. At that time forecasts were calling for over a foot of snow and Elliott's first annual McDonald's birthday party on Saturday was looking to be in serious jeopardy. And it was. We were snowed in for the day. Elliott had to settle for a party at home with Gigi and Pappa Hoss. It looked very much like the one we had the night before, with cake and ice cream and a few verses of Happy Birthday. On Sunday, grandma and grandpa came up and once again, you guessed it, cake and ice cream and Happy Birthday. On the fourth day of Elliott's birthday, his true love gave to him, notice that his birthday was officially over - notice that seemed to take him by surprise.
Monday was also building day. Katie had read the instructions carefully and nowhere in them did it say to remove all snow from the area in the yard where you intend to assemble the structure. I was prepared for it nonetheless. Before the storm, I laid three large tarps on the ground. Tarps that would eventually be buried calf high in snow. So after the storm, when the neighbors were shoveling their driveways, I heard a voice in my head say "all I know is come Christmas morning Santa will have delivered their swing-set." Papa Hoss and I took to shoveling the yard. And what a sight it must have been for any of my neighbors who saw shovels swinging and snow piling up several feet around a grassy rectangle in our back yard.
Once that part was done, the rest became what all assembly-required-kid-toys are, a real pain in the everything. But there are two things that eased the pain. One, my father who would do anything for his kids and grandkids. That includes driving 10 hours to be snowbound in a house with 2 active grandchildren for 48 hours before finally escaping to the outdoors to build a swingset. An outdoors surrounded by cold snow and temperatures that weren't the least bit tempted to melt it. Without his assistance, Katie would have been calling Santa a big fat liar.
The second pain killer was mama. Now first I must tell you that Katie and I have two different ideas about instructions. She believes they should be read and followed. I believe they insult the reader's intelligence and should be immediately tossed in the recycling bin. But before I could get ahold of the instructions for this project, she had already read them. They said you should organize all of the lumber and hardware beforehand to make things go smoother. So I separated the lumber; Katie separated hundreds of washers and screws and bolts and other accessories into 30 some plastic sandwich bags, all representing a phase of construction. When I saw this box full of baggies filled with numbered parts, I shook my head. When we started building, well, let me just say I'll be reading instructions in the future. Her system was a lifesaver.
Then there was the challenge of hiding this thing in our back yard to make sure it didn't arrive before Santa arrived, if you know what I mean. I don't believe we had so much as a close call on that one, and I am thankful for that.
On Christmas morning, grandma and grandpa came up and we went into the backyard to look for reindeer tracks. That is when Elliott saw it. He liked it, but I believe he showed more excitement when he opened the 10 dollar set of Wonder Pet figurines and their flyboat. Of course, this was the only thing Elliott had asked for, so I guess that was the gift that met his expectations of Christmas. In the end, I'm sure the swing-set will get more use.
And speaking of the Wonder Pets, one sure sign that this Christmas season is finally over is that Elliott let us watch them save something other than the reindeer or nutcracker last night. I have the lines memorized from those two Christmas episodes.
Little Ian took it all in as a one year old would. I couldn't help but look ahead to next year when he'll be more involved. Like I told grandma on Christmas morning, our house is like a zoo. When she asked how that is different from any other day, I told her on this day the animals are all out of their cages. Next year they will be looking to take over the zoo and evict the zookeepers.
There is nothing like Christmas as taken in through the eyes and mind of a child. My belief in God stems so much from the things that can't be explained aside from our father in heaven. Christmas is the biggest of those things. Why is it that children bring us so much joy. Why is it that our hearts nearly break when while opening their gifts, they hand the gift to you and say, "here, you need to open a gift, you can open mine." It's because God wanted us to completely understand what he felt when he sent his son on Christmas day. He wanted us to understand just how serious he was about his intentions and purpose in our lives. He wanted to leave us without doubt. Our boys accomplish that one.
We hope that you had a very blessed Christmas and that your new year will be filled with so many of his blessings.
Make sure you check out the new photo album with birthday and Christmas photos.