Baby’s First Christmas

Christmas is over, and now all that’s left is to play with the toys, keep gorging on candy and cookies until they’re all gone, and write about what happened. Our holiday started on Christmas Eve morning with a trip to visit John, Karina and the cousins for brunch. We also got to see some other friends that we don’t see very often. Elena jumped right in to play with the big kids while we enjoyed a tasty variety of food.

Later in the afternoon, after an unplanned nap on my part, Jenny unilaterally announced the start of a Christmas Eve tradition. She decided that we should have a simple dinner of fruit, protein shakes, string cheese, and popcorn. I thought this was pretty strange, but Jenny had several convincing explanations for why this would be good not just for that one dinner, but as an ongoing holiday tradition*. I agreed, but only on the condition that we both do our planned workouts before dinner. Jenny headed to the gym first, but it was already closed by the time she got there, so she came home to stretch and do a Pilates video. This gave me time to go up to the boathouse and erg for the first time in several months. There must be something useful about carrying a giant baby around all the time, because my workout went better than I thought it would.

When I got home we had a short visit with my friend Ben, who dropped off some tasty frozen cheesecake that he made himself. Ben always amazes me, and this is a perfect example. How many senior Mechanical Engineering students would be so thoughtful or capable of making delicious desserts?

I do have to admit that after several very heavy meals in a row (including slow-cooked pulled pork sandwiches the night before), the fruit and shake dinner was just what we needed. Somehow the popcorn added just the right kind of contrast and variety. If we do this next year, I’d recommend that we upgrade our cheese from string cheese to something a little bit more classy. There was some popcorn left over after dinner, which was okay because we were watching a movie and didn’t feel bad about continuing to munch.

Even though we didn’t have too many presents to wrap, we somehow managed to stay up too late and had a hard time making our early wake up call on Christmas morning. We should have appreciated Elena’s insensitivity to that particular Christmas tradition, but we had another brunch and wanted to prepare our contribution, open presents, feed Elena, and put her down for a nap all before we had to go, so we woke up at about 6:45 to get things going.

We thought that Elena would enjoy the wrapping paper and boxes more than her actual presents, but we were completely wrong–she loved her presents and wanted to play with all of them at once. I guess that’s the advantage of having a very brief attention span. Instead of writing more, here’s a photo montage:

Like I said, Elena loves all of her presents. She got lots of new toys. In my mind, the key additions are some dolls from her grandmothers, a singing book of nursery rhymes from another grandma, some stacking rings, a ball, and a matchbox car, since she likes her cousins’ cars so much when we visit them. Jenny loves the cute new outfits that Elena received, and they all seem big enough for her to wear for a while before she grows out of them.

Our plans for Elena’s nap didn’t turn out so well. Maybe she was overstimulated, or maybe she just wanted to play some more, but her nap didn’t last very long and she was still tired when we went to the brunch with our friends Martin and Christine. Elena fell asleep in the car and we drove around for ten extra minutes to let her sleep. She didn’t wake up when we got to their apartment, so I stayed out in the car to let her sleep longer while Jenny went inside. After another ten minutes, we decided she had enough, woke her up, and headed inside. I was glad that I did–there was even more yummy goodness, including a syrup concoction for the pancakes that Christine just called ‘liquid gold.’

After we finished eating, the adults were sitting around talking about Christmas past and other topics (whenever Martin’s around, there’s always a discussion of nutritional supplements). Elena started playing with a little snow globe, and was demonstrating the improbable feat of putting the whole glass dome in her mouth, leaving just the base sticking out. She tired of that and started tapping it on a table. We all assumed that it was made of unbreakable plastic, but Elena decided to disprove that hypothesis. She whacked it on the table and the glass shattered, leaking water and glitter everywhere. We whisked Elena away and cleaned it all up, so nobody was hurt, and it wasn’t an heirloom or anything valuable, but I am sorry for the needless, preventable destruction.

In the afternoon we met up with Yasmin, a friend from church, and headed back to have Christmas dinner with John and Karina. At their house, we found two boys very happy with their Christmas presents, and baby Ainsley in an adorable Santa suit. Both Warren and Gavin wanted to show us a wind-up skateboard guy that did a complete flip and then kept rolling.

Karina made her signature ham for dinner, and we all ate way too much. Even Elena got in on the action–we gave her a few small bites after she finished the rest of her dinner, and she kept wanting more. I put her in the living room to play, but she crawled back to the table and begged for scraps like a little puppy. My meager contribution to dinner was jello with fruit cocktail mixed in, but Elena did enjoy sampling that too. For the record, Elena also had some of Jenny’s really good mashed potatoes.

After dinner, dessert consisted of Jenny’s cinnamon rolls and apple pie from Yasmin. Somehow we managed to find a little bit of extra room for it. While we enjoyed that, Elena was exploring again and found the staircase. A few weeks ago at another house, Elena discovered her first staircase and knew just what to do–she went right up, with me following along behind to keep her safe. She did the same again last night, except at the top of last night’s staircase she could look out and see everything below. She was very excited to see everyone down there, and started to squeal, laugh, and wave at them.

Our Christmas evening did end on a sad note. Elena was getting tired, and I put her on the couch to play with Gavin. They were having a good time and I was standing guard, but there didn’t seem to be too much of a need for me there; they had played for a while without being in danger of falling off. So when Jenny asked for help with her camera, I thought nothing of stepping away for just a moment to grab the camera. As soon as I took two steps away, I heard the awful thud of baby on tile, immediately followed by Elena’s loud wail. She calmed down when we gave her a bottle and some baby Tylenol, but was more irritable than usual for the rest of the night. She did have a bump on her head, but it seems to be gone today and she’s back to her usual happy self. So all’s well that ends well, like this tale of Christmas.

I hope you had an equally memorable and enjoyable Christmas, except possibly with fewer head bumps and broken snowglobes! I’ve uploaded more pictures than I can include in this post. You can find them over on flickr.

* If Jenny would like to explain this tradition to more people, I would welcome it as her first blog post, but I don’t want to misrepresent her by explaining it myself.


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