A friend once told me that when the youngest member of the family turns 4 things really change. Meaning, I suppose, as the youngest matures and naptimes and potty training and feeding schedules fall by the wayside, it gets a little easier to be a family rather than a walking diaper bag operating within the confines of the clock and the intensity of the youngest’s displeasure.
Though our youngest cherub is just a few months past 3, his increasing independence coupled with the absence of traveling, pregnancy or preparing to move, meant we had a rather lovely Christmas. Perhaps the first one I can recall in which we all spent time together doing things we all (or at least four of us) liked.
We allowed the boys to stay up later than prudent several few nights while we watched Elf and Home Alone. We decorated sugar cookies with friends. We went to a candlelight church service where one child sat on my lap passing gas and another played with my stomach fat. [But no one got burned or started a fire, so it was an unqualified success.] We drove around Calgary looking at Christmas lights and stopped at Confederation Park in -15 (or was it -20 degrees Celsius) to gaze at their light display forexactlytwominutes.
On Christmas Eve,we hosted friends for dinner and the professor got the chance to grill lamb skewers outside, in equally frigid temperatures.
Because we didn’t get to see any of our extended family this year, we ended up spending a fair amount of time with friends. And, freed from the demands of very little people, we were able to have actual, mostly uninterrupted, conversations with said friends. Truly, a Christmas Miracle.
There was one, rather memorable interruption. We were having lunch at someone’s house when the Hen ran into the kitchen to tell me his little brother needed me. I rushed downstairs and found the little guy in the bathroom, crying. ‘There was an ant,’ he finally explained, and I did my best to stifle a smile. ‘You’re crying because you saw a tiny black ant?’ I tried to establish the details. ‘It was brown,’ he corrected through tears.
We stayed in our pajamas for obscene lengths of time. We played board games and let the boys play more Wii in the span of a week than in two years combined. We did a little bit of post-Christmas shopping to replace jeans with holes in the knees. We even went for a couple of walks when the temperature inched towards positive territory.
As we were heading up the stairs behind the Signal Hill Superstore, we saw an older gentleman coming down said stairs. And by older I mean mid-seventies. At least. He descended the stairs with purpose and as soon as he got to the bottom, he went back up the stairs and when he reached the top, promptly headed back down again. By the time the Gort and I finally made it to the top (with burning thighs, I should add), he’d ‘lapped’ us at least three times. ‘You’re putting us to shame,’ I exclaimed. He smiled, ‘it’s a beautiful day!’
Indeed. But even on beautiful days, I refrain from torturing myself physically.
A few minutes later, as we rambled along the path, I saw him again. Running. In brown boots and khaki pants. At a brisk pace.
I should have asked him to be my personal trainer for 2013.