Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Surviving (and Cherishing) Winter Break

Winter Break, Holiday Break, Christmas Break....whatever it is called these days...is definitely NOT made-for-parents!

The first day was hectic, we are a performing arts family with the period between Thanksgiving to New Years full of artistic endeavors that keep the oil companies in business with our contributions, so getting to the last day of school was a chance to exhale and relax...

If you count relaxing trying to decide if your kid really needed that red sweater at the mall or could you come up with something else (I found one at a stand-alone Old Navy, so success) or if you really needed a tree, after all, it was Christmas Eve Eve and there wasn't anything in the townhouse to resemble the holiday except for a stray candy cane.

The hustle and bustle of the two days before Christmas included lots of cash flying, lots of tape, wrapping paper, and presents hidden under beds.  The tree is my husband's annual tradition to get and since he is so busy and usually waits until the almost last minute, he gets a good deal and I get a rug full of Scotch pine.

But traditions are part of the season, right? and the stuff that makes memories during the winter break.

My kids love unwrapping the ornaments and thinking about the story behind each one.  They laugh when they see the ones they made when they were younger or smile when I tell the story about the ornament commemorating their birth.

These are the days I love about the break...and it usually lasts until the day after Christmas.

Then reality sets in that these people...including my educator husband...will be in my house, underfoot, for the NEXT.TEN.DAYS!

I mentally mapped out my strategy to survive the noise of a sixteen year old son, a nine year old daughter, a seven year old daughter, and a won't mention age husband!

Step one was to make sure I literally stuffed the refrigerator to the point of surrender.
Step two was to do the same to the pantry, the snack bins, and the spice cabinet.
Step three was to purchase paper plates and utensils and napkins.
Step four was to make them a chocolate cake and mix together the dough for sugar cookies.
Step five was to make sure I had plenty of coffee beans and the fixings for a great latte.

Once I made sure all the necessities were in place, I knew I could survive winter break, and a snow-in if we ended up like our friends in New York (we got about 4 inches from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day but nothing like that Northeast-shut-down-the-city-stuff)

My kids were settling in for their version of a "long winter nap" complete with new pajamas and the ONE BIG THING they all asked for (iHome, eReader, and Guitar) so I was guaranteed smiling faces and compliant kids.

We did pajama days and cookies and sleeping late and homemade caramel popcorn and frothy lattes and hot chocolates and movies and games and sleeping late and a LONG WINTER NAP.

Now we are nearing the days before New Year's Eve and today was the one I wished my kids were back in school.  I thought about the lectures I have to prepare for my January classes and the syllabi still in draft stages on my computer.

Then I paused for a moment, when my nine-year-old daughter came in my room and asked if she could read me her article for her newspaper (she is editor-in-chief) and if she could "just cuddle with mommy."  And I cherished hug.

And I smiled, Christmas break may not have been made for mommies, but this mommy is getting a little benefit from the impromptu gift of being able to be here for these moments that will be fleeting, when the time will be too short, when they will all be gone or off to some adventure to amazing for their old parents to take part in, and I will crave again the days of the toys all over the TV room floor, the stray pieces of wrapping paper and the hot chocolate mugs left in the sitting room.

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