I'm pretty sure the last time we slept in on Christmas day, Zac was a toddler and didn't know any better. But that was fifteen years ago. Every year since then, when his internal, 4:00 a.m. Christmas clock has dinged (or Tera's ... he gave her one when she arrived in the Woodward household), our door has creaked open and a little hopeful, expectant voice has asked, "Is it time to get up yet?"
Every year ... until today. Today, Dave and I opened our eyes at 7:00 to a silent house. Tera slept in. Zac slept in. We're up, and we're alone.
So many changes, most of which sneaked up on me. Zac's Playmobile Pirate Island has given way to a microwave, flatware, and towels--items he'll need when he gets his apartment this summer. Tera's Barbie Dream House has given way to teenager fleece boots and an iPod.
But some things will never change. When we wake them (and I'm really thinking we're going to have to wake them), and they stumble into the living room, I'll still steer them, first thing, to the creche arranged on the end table, and ask, "What's different today?" They'll point out that Baby Jesus has made His appearance, finally, after waiting these long weeks in tissue-paper limbo, hidden away in my bedroom.
Dave will pray, just like he does every year, and thank God not only for the blessings we can see--these children, and this home, and the precious friends and family He's surrounded us with, but also for the blessing none of us witnessed--that long ago miracle, when God left the beauty of heaven and came to visit earth in human flesh.
Amy Grant's Christmas album will be playing in the background, just like it's done every year since it came out. Though we live in Washington state, our accidentally official Christmas morning song is "Tennessee Christmas."
Dave and I will watch the unwrapping with twin mugs of coffee in hand, and only open our own at the insistence of the kids. Like always, the best part will be watching them open theirs (although this year, I really can't wait to watch Dave open one particular gift: a set of Rock'em, Sock'em Robots. I had to get it for him. Whenever the subject of his childhood comes up, he mentions those robots, and always with that, "Oh, to be a boy again" look).
When Dave opens his stocking, he'll find new wool socks, smoked almonds, Almond Roca, and Toffee Symphony bars (4), just like he finds most every year.
When the kids open their stockings, they'll find jars of Nutella, and big jars of mandarin oranges, Pop Tarts (which I never buy otherwise), and socks.
We'll tear into those packages. We'll make giant, gift-wrap mountains. We'll ooh, and aah, and hug each other, and say thank you. Later, we'll have biscuits and gravy. We'll nap. We'll go visit family, and start the happy process over again.
Some things don't change. And I'm so grateful for that.
Here's hoping that all your most beautiful habits warm you today, and that you remember that Baby, that miracle, and the Hope that was born in that dark, cold cave.