For the past six years when I have awakened on Christmas morning, stumbled from my room in a bleary-eyed holiday haze, I have been greeted by my mother-in-law. She is always fully dressed, perched on the sofa, and reading the latest Janet Evanovich novel or doing bible study. It irked me every year because any children who awoke before me would be greeted by her. As mom and "Santa" I believe that first Christmas morning excitement belongs only to my husband and myself.
This morning, there was no mother-in-law doing bible study. There was only the soft twinkle of the tree casting a glow on Bubba's new Thomas trains and the elevated train track my husband had so lovingly built the night before. The American Girl stuff I staged was untouched and waiting for my daughter to discover. The house was quiet.
I made myself some Theraflu, then some Sweet Orange tea. I hung up laundry done the night before on the basement drying racks. Now, I am watching the news, listening to the creaks of this old house - hardwood floors expanding and contracting, rattling noises in the vents - and waiting for the pitter-patter of little feet to signal the start of this perfect Christmas morning.