I didn’t know what to expect for Ellie’s first Christmas.   She’s not quite a year old yet, so I knew she wouldn’t be opening her own presents or really get what was going on.  But I was expecting her to be her normal excited self.  If she’s excited for a normal Monday, then why wouldn’t she flip out with excitement over Christmas with the site of packages, bows, and pretty paper?  But after her nap on Christmas Eve, she woke up with a fever and wasn’t quite herself.  Aya was getting over having a cold and now Ellie had one too.   Even so, I thought as soon as we got to my grandma’s she’d put her happy face on and still be excited.

We always meet at my grandma’s on Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family.  It’s a small crowd but a good crowd.  Some of my favorite Christmas memories from my childhood are from Christmas Eve.  When my brother and I were younger we’d bring our instruments and play for the family.  We would put on my grandpa’s old crazy winter hats and go caroling.  Yup, you heard it right, caroling.  My dad on trumpet, my brother on saxophone, me on drums, and my uncle would sing.  The four of us clowns would go play a few songs for my grandma’s neighbors in the freezing cold.  That was always exciting for me.  With the addition of my wife and sister-in-law to the family, we could have more members, and Ellie could even join!  She could play the tambourine.  Maybe next year… 

When we got to grandma’s, Ellie was just so subdued.  She just sat in my lap while we ate.  And then when we started to open her presents she got fussy and fell asleep in Aya’s arms.  I wasn’t so much bummed because she wasn’t into what was going on, but she wasn’t my smiley happy baby.  She was like a banjo player with broken strings.  I felt bad opening her presents for her while she was asleep and not feeling well. 

So Christmas morning came and I woke up with a sore throat and a fever.  Awesome.  That makes three of us sick.  Merry (cough cough) Christmas!  I definitely was not expecting this.  We couldn’t even sleep in because we had to make it over to my folks later that morning.  We still did our annual Christmas parade around the house though set to the tune of the Electric Light Parade Song from Disneyland, which Ellie loved.  Then we opened Ellie’s presents.  I have to say it was really weird signing Ellie’s present, “from: mom and dad.”  I kept thinking I was signing something for my parents, but oh yeah, we are mom and dad now.  She seemed excited and confused.  She looked at them for a few minutes and then went straight for her favorite “toy”, the drink coasters.  If I would’ve known, I could’ve saved some money.

The days of my brother and I running downstairs in our footie pajamas at my folks’house are long gone.  And now that child-like excitement we used to have will be transferred to Ellie. She’ll be standing at the top of the stairs jumping up and down saying, “can I come downstairs yet!?”   As we get older and our families change, our traditions change, too.  In recent years, we’ve been having a tea time brunch on Christmas Day.  With bite size turkey sandwiches, homemade scones, lemon curd, fresh fruit, and of course, tea, it’s a nice change from the heavy Holiday staples of turkey, ham, and sausage and sauerkraut.  I think I like it better than Thanksgiving.  As for the presents, my brother has made it his mission in recent years to make it extremely difficult to open your gift.  He uses zip-ties, duct tape, wooden boxes, screws, etc.  At least this year he brought the tools necessary to open each present.  My gift was inside a box made out of drywall.  In retaliation, I gave him his gift frozen in a block of ice.  I think I may have antagonized him for next year.  Ellie was much more excited at the beginning of the day and went around banging on all the boxes and presents.  But as the day went on, both Ellie and I weren’t feeling the greatest.  After she opened a few of her presents, she had had enough and fell asleep on me. 

Although we were all sick, it was still a great Christmas.  A memorable one, that’s for sure.  This was not only Ellie’s first Christmas, but my parent’s first Christmas as grandparents.  I don’t think my parents spoiled her too much.  I think they spoiled her just the right amount, just as any grandparent would do.  Ellie really is very fortunate to have the family she has on both sides of the world.  We also had a package delivered from Aya’s parents from Japan for Ellie.  Aya was able to Skype with her parents in the morning, so Ellie was able to see her other grandparents too!  As for our tradition, our family of three, our evening ended with Chinese takeout, and a Steven Seagal movie circa 1985 on Netflix.  What better way to end Christmas?!   I thought to myself, even though Ellie won’t remember her first Christmas, I sure will. 

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