The in-laws have arrived, and suddenly the number of presents under our little tree has ballooned to three times the number we saw this morning. At the moment, everyone is off at the church Christmas pageant. I've stayed behind to clean up dinner and get ready for the handbell choir's performance at midnight services later.
Just an hour ago, the UPS man showed up with the last present on our list. Tomorrow when the kids enter the front room, they'll see a tabletop pinball machine that Santa brought just for them.
Cady Gray has informed me that Santa likes chocolate milk with his cookies. Archer believes he has seven presents, although since the arrival of gifts with Noel's family this afternoon, that number has surely doubled.
Lights twinkle around the bay window where our tree stands, reflecting off the gilt ribbon and shiny paper on the packages. Outside darkness is quickly falling, and when I leave to go to church we will be deep in the hushed stillness of Christmas eve, "when half-spent was the night."
Archer has handwritten a note and placed it on top of one of his presents. It says, "Do not open 'till Christmas Day!" Tomorrow we look forward to their delight and hope to forge lasting memories, and perhaps there will be a few surprises for us, too. I'm grateful that in this bleak, anxious year, we are home, warm and safe, with plenty to eat and drink, beautiful children who astound us daily, the chance to give and receive in proportion to our blessings, and unexpected hope for the future.
Merry Christmas, everyone.