We gather at the dining room table, lights dimmed almost to darkness. The cranberry candles from Thanksgiving are nearly melted down to their silver candlesticks. A handmade wooden star is lit in the window, made by a distant relative of Matt’s in Germany. The boys and I eat a simple dinner and talk about Christmas. Lyle names the six Cars toys he wants most in the world and asks if Santa will bring them. Baxter, ever the pragmatist, offers, “Well, that’s a pretty short list, Lyle. Santa will probably bring them all to you.” Lyle turns to me rapt, and passes this information on to me as if I hadn’t been sitting there just three seconds before. “Baxter says Santa might bring them all!” Just when I thought his saucer eyes could get no bigger.
In fleece snowman pajamas, the boys cuddle on either side of me for story time. We have two large baskets of Christmas books that only come out in these weeks leading up to Christmas. Lyle chooses ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. When Santa and those “eight tiny reindeer” land on the rooftop, Baxter is barely breathing. “Is this a true story?” he asks. Not answering, but holding him closer, I continue to read. He chooses The Glorious Christmas Songbook, a beautifully illustrated and very complete treasury of Christmas carols. With Baxter warbling joyfully off-key directly into my ear, I try to maintain the melodies of Hark! the Herald Angels Sing and a few of his other favorites. When Lyle joins in for the first time on Jingle Bells – three distinct and uneven melodies contributing to the Green Couch Choir – I am in heaven.
We saved the last two songs for their bedroom. I sang Up on the Housetop, which prompted a can-can routine from the raccoon, puppy, and bunny up on the top bunk railing. Sensing some fun, Lyle jumped out of bed to watch. Finally, with the boys tucked into bed and slightly calmer, I sang one of my personal favorites, The Holly and the Ivy.
Eventually, they fell asleep. There are visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads tonight, no doubt about it.