What a great end to the holidays, and what a great way to start the new year. My holidays were filled with so much cooking (two back-to-back Christmas dinners), eating, celebrating, sharing, love, and warmth, that I feel absolutely spoiled by the universe. There were two Christmas highlights, amidst the raucous meals and full household of four generations (from the top of my ninety-seven year-old grandmother’s silvered head, to the perfectly pink toes of my six week old nephew, and the rest of us in between).
My niece, Evie, is three and a half, and perfectly poised to understand the whole deal around Santa Claus. After the eighth course and before dessert, on Christmas Eve, we sent my brother and dad to put out all the Christmas presents under the tree. We had the door between the dining room and kitchen closed, so that Evie wouldn’t see any of the armfuls of brightly coloured boxes and bags being ferried from my dad’s office to the family room, where my mum had placed a very cheerful and aromatic fir tree. When the last gift was put down, I went into the kitchen and started jingling some bear bells (for those of you not acquainted with bear bells, these are small silver bells on a hand held strap that you walk with through bear country to let the bears know that dinner is being served).
“Evie, Evie, Santa’s here,” I shouted across the room. I could hear the little one scurrying off of someone’s lap, and running to the kitchen door, and scratching sounds as her little hands tried to open the door. I put away the bear bells as soon as I saw the door open a crack.
“Oh Evie, you just missed him but, look, he’s left us all these presents!”
I’ve never seen eyes open as wide as her’s did. She fell for the whole thing hook line and sinker, and was the most delighted little girl on the planet in that moment. She ran up to the colourful pile, and stood staring at it, not knowing where to start. The rest of the family piled into the family room, and plopped themselves about the various pieces of furniture, watching Evie’s excitement. We all had such enormous smiles on our faces. We all spoiled her rotten, you see, and couldn’t wait to see her open up the presents Santa had left for her at our respective homes.
In the spirit of sharing, we had her pass around other people’s gifts at first, but as soon as her pile of presents was more than one, it was too much for her and she dove right in to tear open the careful wrapping.
Later that evening, as her and I lay in bed (she wanted to sleep with her Auntie Alex, you see), she whispered to me, “I love Santa so much!”
The second piece that was just so perfect for me also involves Evie. On Boxing Day Evie needed to take her afternoon nap, which is a bit of a fight with her each and every time apparently, so in the spirit of wanting to help out my brother and sister-in-law, I offered to lay down with Evie for the afternoon nap to make the whole process less painful for all parties involved. I lay down beside her on the bed, closed my eyes, and pretended to sleep. She tossed and turned and sat up then tried to arrange her toys, then put her hand in mine, then puttered about the bed again. Finally, seeing that I was fast asleep (or so she thought of course), she settled down next to me, and started to pet my hair then whispered so very softly: “I love you, Auntie Alex.” Then she kissed me lightly on the nose and fell asleep. My heart just about melted. It’s such an honour to have the love of a child.
So between these two wonderful moments, amidst so many others shared with my family and friends this season, the closure to 2016 was simply perfect. I can’t wait for 2017, armed with so much love and support in my life from my family and friends. It’s going to be a great year.