Christmas Morning: Expectations Vs. Reality

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Happy family on Christmas morningYears of flipping through Christmas catalogs and my recent perusals of holiday Pinterest boards have led me to imagine Christmas morning with my children as a series of Rockwell-esque moments set to a soundtrack of Josh Grobin carols. I’m sure lots of parents have certain assumptions about how opening gifts with kids on Christmas morning will be something you never forget. And that’s probably true, just not for the reasons you would imagine. Here’s a look at the realities of Christmas morning with children.

Expectation: You will tiptoe into your children’s bedrooms to wake them up with a “Merry Christmas!” and a great big hug, and then throw open the curtains to see the world as a glittery, snowy winter wonderland before donning coordinating bathrobes to go downstairs and open presents.

Reality: You are awakened in the dark by an blur of child who is chanting “Get UP, get UP! It’s CHRISTMAS!” so loudly that the baby wakes up and starts to cry. You look at your clock and see it’s not even six in the morning. As you pull an old hoodie over your braless form, you detect an odor in the air that is nothing like cinnamon, pine, or anything else remotely seasonal coming from your youngest. You throw a mismatched top and pair of pants on her because they are the first clean things you lay hands on, and let your oldest drag you downstairs.

Expectation: You and your spouse will sit together on the couch with the baby nestled between you. The adults will enjoy a cup of coffee while your oldest nibbles on cinnamon rolls and opens his stocking, delighting over each new treasure he unearths. Once breakfast is over, you will open gifts. Your child will want to play Santa and hand out the gifts to everyone, one at a time so you can all share in each other’s joy in opening presents. You’ll manage to snap some great candids of the kids as they unwrap things.

Reality: Your older child is ravenous and therefore irrational, so he doesn’t want delicious cinnamon rolls, he wants eggs, but he also wants to open his presents RIT NAO. You compromise by allowing him to bring his stocking to the table and hand the baby off to your husband to be fed while you make some scrambled eggs. You glance occasionally over your shoulder when your child wants to show you what he just pulled out of his stocking. You present your little elf with his eggs, and after one bite he decides he wants a cinnamon roll instead. Thank God for Entenmann’s.

Once everyone is properly fed and caffeinated, you head into the other room to open gifts. You child dives headfirst into the pile, which is admittedly mostly for him. You finally see the Christmas snow you were hoping for, only these flurries come from the wrapping paper massacre that’s happening under the tree. When your big kid pauses his frenzy to hand your younger one a gift you look around for your phone to capture this moment, and then realize it’s still on your nightstand. You take a mental picture and wonder if you can get them to reenact this later for Facebook’s sake.

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