The kids and I had a deal. No one was allowed to open presents until 7:00am on Christmas morning. Catcher had his plan of attack scheduled. He would wake up at 6:25, stare at the presents in the living room for a bit, wake up the girls and then all three would wake the parents at 6:45. There would be 15 minutes of peace and quiet while the parents made coffee, and then the madness would ensue. This is how the scenario was sold to me by a seven year-old boy. I was convinced it would work.
At 3:30am, aforementioned seven year-old boy crawled into bed next to me because he had been lying awake in his own bed for two hours and couldn't get back to sleep. My first thought was to tell him to go back to sleep because Santa wouldn't come if he was awake, but then my sleepy brain told me Catcher had walked through the living room to get up to our bedroom and would obviously have seen that Santa had been there. So instead I just told him to close his eyes and go to sleep. It worked for a bit. During that bit his knees were grinding into my back, but at least he wasn't ripping open presents at 3:30.
At 5:30 he woke again and continuously checked his watch every two minutes for the next twenty minutes. I wouldn't have minded except every two minutes a blue light would flash in my sleepy peripheral vision, and it was kind of driving me nuts. Then he started planning a strategy for creating teams for our inaugural Family Game Night, which happened to be that night, and I realized I was supposed to be listening to what he was talking about. Did he not realize that his dad and I had stayed up late having cocktails while the children were nestled all snug in their beds? I wasn't ready to discuss strategy.
But then the waiting could last no longer, and he crept downstairs to wake the girls. For a hot minute I thought I would let them entertain themselves while I stayed nestled all snug in my bed, but the excitement coming from the living room was too much to ignore. So the groggy parents made their way downstairs just in time to see Christmas unwrap before them.
When we arrived, I blew out the speedlite that attaches to my camera. There was a loud pop followed by short sizzling sound and the smell of smoke. The drama only lasted for a few seconds, but within that time Tillie had managed to tear through all of her gifts and the ones left unprotected by her siblings. Catcher was still on gift number one because the first he opened was some sort of Jedi mind reader thing, and he sat still in the middle of the room with his fortress of gifts protecting him while a toy cube read his Jedi mind.
As I was trying to reconfigure my camera and make sure no rogue sparks--perhaps I imagined the sparks to create a diversion--had reached the wads of paper crumpled up on the floor, the excitement fizzled. I contemplated staging the children's walk into the living room to create a "photo story" for Christmas morning, but then I saw the story was happening all around me. It didn't matter if I missed the photo of Scout tearing open the Inside Out DVD, because I have the memory of Scout jumping up and down, waving the DVD around while screaming "This is all I wanted for Christmas! I don't care about anything else." I also don't have a photo of the rack of princess dresses that Santa left for the girls, but I heard Scout tell Tillie she could have them all because they looked too small for Scout, and she didn't care (remember, all she wanted was Inside Out). But then Scout discovered the faux fur capelet hanging on the front of the rack, and she quickly claimed that one for herself. Catcher was still testing his Star Wars trivia on the mind reader thing.
Before brunch there were tears, as you come to expect on every Christmas morning when the children are sugar-rushed and sleep-deprived, but it all worked out several hours later as we played The Game of Life on our first Wheat Family Game Night. All that talk about "teams" worked out in my favor, by the way, as I was paired up with Catcher the lawyer. Tillie and her partner skipped the college route and went straight for a career because, as Tillie pointed out to us all on the board, "You can get married quicker." #goals