Christmas Eve, the hubs & I got the kiddo tucked into bed and thus kicked off our annual tradition of wrapping all the "Santa" gifts & getting them under the tree. Unfortunately, I also had 4 scrapbook pages & 1 DVD montage to put together. We started around 9:30 & went to bed at 1:30am. The kiddo woke us up at 2:30am by jumping up on our bed and excitedly yelling into my face, "Santa came! Santa came!" I somehow formed a sentence that slightly resembled "go back to bed", but what Trin heard was "Go check out what Santa left in the living room then come back in & wake us up a couple more times before you finally go back to sleep". I can see how she got confused.
I woke up around 6:30 to a house full of sleepy heads. Since the hubs wanted to start a new tradition of having homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast, I decided to get a head start while the house was still quiet. Once I got the cinnamon rolls started, the kiddo was up & Grandma was on her way. Upon Grandma's arrival, all hell broke loose & the paper-ripping frenzy began. I tell ya, it never gets old seeing your kiddo's face light up as they tear into each gift. There really isn't much that compares to that kind of excitement. It's why the hubs & I try so desperately to keep the Santa thing going. We love that when she goes to bed, there are only a few gifts under the tree from us to various relatives we celebrate with. But when she wakes up, there are more gifts & they almost all have her name on them. It's a magical feeling for a kid & fun for us grown ups.
The kiddo was supposed to leave for a little while during the mid-morning to spend some time w/ her bio-dad, but he opted to stay at our house for a couple of hours to watch her open her gifts from him & play with them. My Dad also stopped by for awhile to visit before going on to finish his rounds w/ family & drive home. Just as Dad was leaving, Mom was arriving, which I'm pretty sure is the first time the two of them have come face-to-face since I was about 12. My parents were never married & they broke up before I was born. Never in all my life did my Mom or her husband invite my Dad over to share in the holidays w/ me. I didn't celebrate a single Christmas with my Dad until I was 28 years old. This year is only the 2nd time we spent a holiday together in my life. I don't blame my Mom & Step Dad entirely, but I do think they should have made more of an effort to at least send me to my Dad's house for a few hours each year. Especially w/ all that my Dad is going through right now, I wish I had more memories of time spent w/ him in my youth. That's a big reason why I put aside my own disdain for my ex husband & welcome him into our home for Trin's bday & Christmas. The first few years after we split up were pretty ugly, so I always sent her to celebrate w/ him separately for at least a couple hours. Now that we've had a few years to cool off, we're able to be in the same vicinity w/ only slight awkwardness. It's not my favorite part of the holiday, but it's what needs to be done. Funny thing is, it was never my idea to invite the ex over for special occasions. I would have most likely just continued to send the kiddo off w/ him to celebrate elsewhere. It was my hubs' idea to extend the olive branch b/c he thought it would be better for Trin. He's an amazing man, my husband. :)
Once my Dad & Trin's bio-dad left, I began working on Christmas dinner. Justin's Mom was supposed to eat w/ us, but she was depressed & wanted to be alone. This being her first Christmas since the split, it was understandable, although we did try to talk her into staying. The thought of her being home alone on Christmas just didn't sit well. He put on a brave face, but I could tell Justin was worried about her & also sad that things are the way they are w/ his Dad. This was the first year Justin experienced a broken family holiday & it was pretty rough. He held it together for Trin & me, though. After we all gorged ourselves on ham, homemade mac & cheese, mashed taters, gravy, rolls, deviled eggs, and a variety of other yummy dishes, my Mom headed home & our little trio decided a late afternoon nap was in order. When we woke up, the hubs & I finally got showered & dressed, having stayed in our jammies all day long. Then the 3 of us went to the movies & watched Chipwrecked. (Santa left Alvin, Simon, & Theodore beanie babies in our Christmas tree, each one holding a movie ticket.)
While there were certainly moments of sadness, I have to say this Christmas was pretty nice. We all spent some time w/ the people we love, laughed & ate, received gifts we will enjoy for quite awhile, and even got a little rest. And now it's onward we go, heading straight into 2012. The year is going to kick off w/ my Dad's surgery, followed by Justin's parents' arbitration & divorce proceedings. But we're hoping our tax refund will be substantial enough to allow us to begin planning a little family vacation to Disneyland for Trin's 10th birthday. I think the upcoming year is going to be a lesson in positive thinking and learning to accept the bad w/ the good things in life.