Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas morning with the Heisses

I think the plan was that Grandpa and Grandma were going to get up and go downstairs to wait with the girls--who undoubtedly would be excited for Christmas morning--while Andrew and I slept soundly on waited for Benjamin to wake up and then we'd call it Christmas morning. That's what I thought the plan was. Instead what happened was this...

Grandpa got up and went downstairs. Miriam was the first one to wake up. In her words they, "watched Bible videos" while Grandpa read his scriptures (I believe he put on some videos depicting the nativity for her). She started getting a little bored and wound up in my room, shaking me awake.

"Oh, no! Miriam!" I said. "You're awake! You must have gotten up earlier than we bargained for. Is Rachel awake?"

"Yes," she said.

"Oh, dear! She's not in the living room, is she? You guys need to stay out of the living room until we can all go in there together. Go downstairs; I'll be there in a minute."

I got up and went to the bathroom. Because pregnancy.

And while I was in there, my girls tromped up the stairs. Miriam--and Grandpa, from what Miriam tells me--woke Rachel up and dragged her out of bed. She was not happy about it. But there were presents to be had and now the girls were upstairs, one excited, one grumpy, and both ready for some Christmas cheer. So we woke up Andrew and Benjamin just as Grandma was getting out of the shower.

Benjamin's usually pretty cheerful about being woken up because he thinks sleep is evil. His attitude is usually along the lines of, "Oh, did I drift off there? Thanks for rescuing me from my nemesis, Sleep." Also, there were presents.

We opened our stockings before breakfast.

The kids were excited that Santa had brought some chocolate "coal." They've been hoping that someone would get coal in their stocking for months now. I guess we weren't quite bad enough for real coal (though Rachel said if she'd gotten real coal she would have just compressed it into a diamond (because that's probably easy, right?) and so how is that even a punishment at all?).

I love my sweet children and how excited they get over everything. Santa (and his helpers) filled their stockings to the very top with things he'd been collecting all year long, I'm sure.

Sometimes when I see lists like this "100 stocking stuffer ideas under $10" I cringe a little because everyone knows that you need more than one stocking stuffer and who has more than $10 to spend on stuffing a stocking? Who has $10 to stuff a stocking? Not our Santa.

Our Santa was sure to stop by The Island of Misfit Toys before hitting up our house. Benjamin got a loot of dinged up matchbox cars (a Trading Table find that some other little boy had decided he was too old for), both Miriam and Benjamin got a set of Disney toys (that may have found their way into our possession after being used as decorations for some wedding or other (Jacob and Shayla's), and Rachel has a new book with a sticker that says, "Bargain Books" over the UPC code (is saying that redundant?). I think Santa got it online. They each got a stuffed animal that may or may not have come with a bag of hand-me-downs my angelic/elfin friend Susanne left at my door. Those treasures, bulked up with some trinkets from the Santa that visits Grandma and Grandpa's house and some others that looked about like they'd come from the $1 section, brought our children so much joy. I'm so thankful for The Island of Misfit Toys.

Here's Benjamin being super impressed by all of his new cars:

And reading a book to himself:

All the children were sweet, of course, but Miriam was extra sweet. She noticed that Santa gave her three sticks of chapstick while he only gave Rachel one (probably because the former loves chapstick while the latter will put it on if I tell her she absolutely must).

Rachel got a turquoise chapstick. Miriam got orange, blue, and pink.

"Here," she said, picking out the blue chapstick and handing it to Rachel. "Santa left this in my stocking by mistake. Now we both have two."

Then she noticed an admittedly quite babyish microphone. She handed it to Benjamin.

"Santa meant to put this in your stocking," she said.

Never mind the fact that her pile of loot was rapidly shrinking. She wanted to make sure the gifts got in the right spot.

Benjamin wasn't impressed by the microphone, either. It wouldn't turn on even after Grandma took it upon herself to unscrew the battery compartment, clean out the acid that had spilled from the old batteries, and put new batteries in. It will likely get tossed while we're packing to go home.

I suppose I should explain that Miriam had wished for a microphone a while back. But obviously this microphone was not what she had in mind. She wanted a real one. Not a toy one.

She wasn't upset about not getting a real one. Santa had clearly misunderstood what she'd asked for. Not that she remembered asking. By the time we visited Santa at the Riverwoods I think she changed her mind to "princess dolls" and technically she didn't get any of those, either.

With Santa out of the way, we had breakfast and got dressed so we could open presents from each other. Our haul was small. We'd brought a few things from North Carolina (a teddy bear Miriam wanted to give to Benjamin from her own collection and a book she'd picked out at her primary teacher's house (and massive library) for Rachel) and purchased a few things here (some shirts for the girls, a train set for Benjamin). We also had a few things from other people under the tree--a gift card from Grandma Pat, a little something from Grandma and Grandpa to all of the kids. Most of our presents, however, were left in North Carolina, so we're still anxiously awaiting the unwrapping craziness.

Here's Benjamin opening the present Miriam gave to him—she drew her own wrapping paper and used about a roll of scotch tape wrapping the box
Reid had asked me what our plan was for Christmas morning. How were we going to handle Christmas? Should we open presents at all? Were we bringing everything we wanted the kids to open or just some? Was it alright if Grandma wrapped something for them?

Rachel, Benjamin, and Miriam with the cars (and truck) Grandpa Frank made for them
I said that my kids had low expectations for Christmas--because those are the kind of expectations you build up when your father is a professional student--so wee'd bring a few things to open, and tell them that most of their gifts were at home under our tree (I wrapped them the day before we left and the kids went giddy with excitement, so they know they're there). Then I said that they had no one to compare Christmas gifts with so they weren't likely to get jealous over anything.

The cousins they'd be seeing on Christmas day were 12, 14, 15 (though he's 16 now), and 17 (though she'll be 18 in a few weeks). My brothers and sisters would get presents, sure, but they're in their 20s and 30s. Then I believe I finished up this paragraph (of an email) by saying, "Anything you or Karen get, they'll just find boring." So opening presents--and only getting a few little things--wasn't going to crush their Christmas spirit.

I had to write back to explain that I meant that anything Grandma and Grandpa opened themselves on Christmas morning would be boring to my children (tickets to The Phantom of the Opera? Yawn. Socks? Yawn again.) but that I was sure my children would love whatever it was that Grandma had already wrapped up for them.

Sometimes I'm really good at putting my foot in my mouth. But my predictions were right on.

The kids were perfectly happy opening only a couple of packages each. And, in fact, perhaps that was better for them because they didn't get overwhelmed opening presents. And they weren't jealous about anything their cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents showed off later in the day.

The kids working together to unwrap the last present


  1. I love the wrapping paper Miriam made for Benjamin's present. Also, that is so sweet that she gave away her own stocking stuffers.

    I was shocked that RACHEL was the daughter still sleeping! :) I love what you wrote about rescuing Benjamin from sleep..ha!

    Also, I've been meaning to ask for a while: does your last name rhyme with RICE or MESS? I know the German way to say it, but I know how sometimes names in the US aren't said exactly the same, so ...

    Happy new year! Hope you have a good trip back to NC. How fun that your children have a few more gifts to open then!

  2. We went rather low key this year as well. I figures we are moving and I'm sick of each girl got a horse and they all got a huge barn to share and Ezra got this Lego set he wanted. Then there was an over the door basketball set, two games from grandma, each kid got a few books, and stockings. It turned out great. They spent their whole day playing horses, building, and playing games. No overwhelming feeling and no post Christmas blues. Miriam is a doll.