Some weeks ago Lindsey began working on her Christmas list.
She wrote down -- with gusto -- fuzzy socks. Pajamas. Lip balm. Manicure set.
"I don't really want the same things for Christmas I used to want," she observed.
She is 11 going on 12, after all, and this year there truly is no doubt in her mind that her parents are Santa. There were no pretenses of asking me to mail her list to Santa this year, she simply handed it to me with a "here you go."
And because she doesn't believe her little sister, for the most part, doesn't believe. There have been a few times over the past few weeks when I've had to stop one or both of the girls from going into a closet that had gifts stashed in them. "Why can't we go in there?" Marissa would ask, "Presents," Lindsey would reply.
Yet Christmas morning, the magic was still there.
Not-so-little bodies filled with excitement as we prepared for bed on Christmas Eve, squeals and giggles as they imagined what was in the presents under the tree, and what other gifts would magically appear before morning.
We played musical beds in the middle of the night due to excitement which made sleep hard to come by. We awoke early, made kids go back to sleep, and finally got up around 7:30.
We had the special treat of having Kristi join us this year, decked out in fuzzy red pajamas with matching Santa hat. She helped me "play Santa" the night before, wrapping the last of the gifts and even wrapping a forgotten one...at 5:30 a.m. (All communicated via text from two floors away.) She really IS a Secret Santa!
Coffee cake, coffee, presents, and glee.
Lindsey wanted to get something for everyone in the family. She spent her own money and bought Caribou gift cards for her parents (always appreciated), a candle for Kristi and a stuffed toy, movie and "squishy toy" for Marissa.
Over the past few weeks when Marissa saw Lindsey wrapping presents for her, she wanted to get something for Lindsey, too. So she wrapped a piece of pottery she had made over the summer and a book that had been laying around the house. Lindsey expressed great delight and gratitutude as Marissa jumped up and down with excitement. Marissa had purchased a gift for her too, but I think the unwrapping of the "here's what's laying around the house" present was more fun.
Lindsey got a pair of boots from her Aunt Kristi, who cleverly wrapped just one, then hid the other boot in a sweater that had been wrapped separately. Wayne got a "gift" of a plaid shirt and plaid pants (non-matching) from his family to make up for the gifts of clothing he got last year. He got real gifts too, don't feel too sorry for him.
And for as much as Lindsey hadn't put toys on her list, she put enough toys that she spent the rest of the day playing with Magnatiles and her new Disney Sleeping Beauty figurines, while Marissa entertained the family with her new karaoke CDs from the Hoyt cousins and microphone stand.
No one fought. No one asked Marissa to be quiet. Everyone said "please" and "thank you" and were polite to each other.
Now that's the true magic of Christmas.