I jumped up out of bed, surprised at my cat-like reflexes at such an early hour in the morning.
I got to Declan in the hallway, in his full Santa Claus suit and asked him stupidly,
“What are you doing?”
“It’s CHRISTMAS!! It’s time to open presents!”
“No, it’s not Christmas yet,” I yawned, leaning to the side to see the clock in my room. I sank a little when I saw the time and told Declan,
“It’s 1 o’clock in the morning! Come on. Come sleep with me and Catelyn.”
Our bizarre sleeping arrangements come into the necessary light on nights like Christmas eve. Declan has a very hard time sleeping through the night on a regular night. On the night before the holiday he has come to adore – well I was hopeful for a little more sleep than the couple of hours I got.
We were prepared, nonetheless. My husband and I each slept in a room on either side of Declan’s bedroom door. I sleep with one ear open on any regular day, ready for Declan to be up at an odd hour. For Christmas, now I know I can sleep with an eye AND an ear open.
And did I tell you I have cat-like reflexes?
I tried to remember the rhyme Declan had been repeating all month at his school with his classmates,
“Declan, don’t you remember what your teacher told you? You have to stay in bed, with your pillow under your head until you see the SUNLIGHT on Christmas Morn?”
“NOOO!” Declan screamed and began to cry, “It’s time to open presents!”
“Not yet, buddy. We must give Santa a chance. Come on. Come back to bed.”
Declan settled in the bed, between Cate and I. He must’ve touched her side, because she woke and moaned. “Noooooo….. ” Then she shot up with cat-like reflexes (which she must have got from me) and yelled, “GO BACK TO BED, DECLAN! SANTA WON’T COME IF YOU ARE UP!”
“YES HE WILL! SANTA WILL COME!” Declan yelled with rolling tears.
The dispute ensued. I finally settled the matter.
“I’ll go check – okay? I’ll go see if he came yet. But you have to stay here.”
“Okay” they said, and there was one thing I knew for sure – there was no way Cate would let Declan slip past her and go behind me.
I ran downstairs. I turned the lights on and briefly saw the beautiful Christmas presents all arranged as my husband and I had arranged them the night before. I quickly shut off the light and ran back up the stairs.
“Nope. He hasn’t been here yet. So we all have to go to sleep for Santa to come!”
“See, DECLAN! I TOLD you!” Catelyn turned in the bed, taking a huge portion of the blanket with her turn, flopped her head on her pillow and squeezed her eyes mightily shut.
“NNOOOOOOOO!” Declan cried. “SANTA IS COMING!”
“Yes,” I said, “But he only comes when we SLEEP. So you have to go to sleep for Santa to come!”
“Okay.” Declan sadly dripped and lay down.
I give the child credit. He tried. He stared at the ceiling. He played with toys. He called for us to find his lost toys. He asked a lot of questions. He rolled left and suffocated me. He rolled right and got yelled at. He sang songs. He leaned into my head for me to open my eyes, and for him to point out, “your eye is open.”
5 hours later, he dozed.
6 hours later Bobby was up and ready for Christmas!
And down I went again to check to see if Santa came.
But really to turn on the coffee pot.
Christmas came and everyone was super happy. Presents with meaning were shared. The kind of presents that make a family so special.
The holiday is gone and I relive those gift giving moments in pictures. I relive the smiles, the cheers, the thank you’s in photos.
And when I reach the one of me with the tired tired eyes,
I relive the night before Christmas I lie awake with Declan. I smile when I remember listening to songs, answering questions and feeling him lean in for me to look and him say,
“Your eye is open.”