A Story I Will Be Telling Forever

Oh dear. What has happened here in this empty barn of a blog. Look, there are giant spiders on the ceiling and entire generations of mice nesting in all the crumpled up bits of paper. Soon teenagers will be rutting in the hayloft. Let’s not think about it!

We got through an entire Christmas season without illness, which is significant. Since the dawn of time, we have been sick at Christmas. This year we just dealt with run of the mill assholish behavior and crappy weather. I prefer this, for the record.

Christmas Eve was so nice at first. The kids ate pancakes and watched Santa on NORAD. We let them open a present each before bedtime. Eli (that’s 4.75)(I can’t be bothered to refer to them in code anymore) opened the Hexbug set we gave him and he loved it. Arlo (that’s 6.5) opened a bunch of Lego from his uncle and aunt in Calgary. We were all happy and appreciative!

Well, after they went to bed we were less happy because Netflix broke so we couldn’t watch anything but DVDs. We picked Saturday Night Fever because we’ve owned it for years and never watched it. What an odd movie. It starts out all disco! exciting music! cheezy even! and then it’s kind of funny? Or is it just dark? Is John Travolta seriously such a douche? OK. He is. An innocent douche. Now he’s met a girl and they want to dance together. Now it’s all socio-political and about their status in the city. The music has ended. Boo.

Now we’re tired and turn it off, stuff stockings, and go to bed. Ten o’clockish.

At 1:30 AM I wake to the sound of a door opening. It’s children, creeping out of their beds. Ha ha, adorable. SA wakes up too and says, loudly, into the darkness, “It’s not morning.” We hear scurrying and the door closes. He goes back to sleep and I lie awake for twenty thousand minutes because that’s what I do in the middle of the night: have trouble getting back to sleep. It’s kind of a speciality.

At 2:15, the door opens again. I put in earplugs and put a pillow over my head but I can still hear it. Rattling, rustling, plastic something or othering. I get up and go downstairs, where I find Arlo sitting in the living room with the lights on, putting together the Lego he opened before bed.

“It’s not morning,” I tell him. I show him the clock in the kitchen, which reads 02:17.

“I just want –” he says.
“Go back to bed,” I say.

He weeps. I do not change my mind. I walk him back to bed.

Fifteen minutes later, earplugs and pillow reapplied, I can hear him and his brother talking in their bedroom. (This means he has woken his brother! I think angrily.) Then I hear arguing. They are having an argument in their bedroom at 2:30 AM. SA wakes up again and goes down to their room and speaks sternly of goblins and evil frankfurters who will come to their beds if they make one more peep before 6 AM. He returns to bed and returns to sleep in what seems like seconds. Seconds of UNFAIRNESS.

Fifteen minutes later, the bedroom door opens again. Two pairs of feet pad downstairs. I try to ignore them but I am now a) fuming and b) hungry because I’ve been awake for almost two hours so my body thinks it’s breakfast. I go downstairs and find my precious angels in the living room, shaking their gifts, all the lights on, eyes glazed like stoned deer in fluorescent headlights.

I eat a banana and stare at them.

They stare at me.

I attempt to explain how angry I am and why and what they can do about it. I don’t think I succeed. I am aware that they are not going to stay in bed, and if they do not stay in bed, I will continue hearing them move about the house and NONE OF US will sleep, except for SA bless him.

Arlo is upset that I am mad (he claims “Daddy told us we could get up at 3!”) and goes back to his room. I put a blanket over Eli and another over me, turn out the living room light (“Can we leave the tree lights on?” “NO.”) and attempt to sleep on the couch because then at least I will not be upstairs wondering what they are doing.

Eli strokes my hair.

“Your hair is soft,” he whispers.
I don’t reply.
He sighs and pulls himself closer to me. I feel his breath on my ear. He sighs again.
“Go. To. Sleep.” I say.
“I just can’t,” he says. I believe him. And yet.

Arlo comes back downstairs.
“I can’t sleep,” he says. “I tried. I just can’t.”

It is almost 4 AM. I give up. I turn on the television, prop them on the couch with blankets, leave the lights off and tell them if they make ONE SINGLE NOISE, Santa will take all their presents back and beat them with willow switches.

Upstairs again, I sleep until 7 o’clock, when I get up and make merry because hey, it’s Christmas. Allegedly, Eli slept on the couch but Arlo swears he, himself, did not. Judging by how quickly they fell asleep in the car on the way to my parents’ house (that’s fifteen minutes away, by the way), neither of them slept much at all.

Boxing Day was much better.

10 thoughts on “A Story I Will Be Telling Forever

  1. Arwen

    Awww. That’s a lovely Christmas story, although with 2:00 am wake times and probably would have been trying to find chloroform. Oi. Vey.

  2. L.

    That was a lovely story that made me laugh but also made me a bit melancholy, maybe because, god, it’s so much better to be unable to fall asleep because of PRESENTS rather than because of the unending horrors of your brain thoughts.

    Just me?

    Oh, Saturday Night Fever, total buzzkill. Sorry, semi-but-not-quite-attractive-enough dance partner, I’m going for the hot chick! Sorry, short, odd little friend, but go ahead and throw yourself off that bridge, it would’ve happened sooner or later! I’m sure it was an accident! Does anything redemptive happen? I can’t remember the ending.

    1. branch Post author

      Oh..the ‘didn’t watch until the end’ comment was for you. We looked at how long it was, how tired we were, how depressed we were getting and just turned it off about halfway through.

      I guess it’s better to be unable to sleep because of presents, at least because that means for 364 days a year they don’t get up at 1:30 AM. That would be the bright side, yes.

  3. Nicole

    Saturday Night Fever is a very strange movie. I was kind of appalled when I first saw it, because I thought it would be all kitchy and dance-y and OMG is it ever depressing. The scene where the girl loses her virginity in the car with all those other guys, then gets tag teamed? Wtf. Really. Wtf. Ah, the anonymous, unprotected sex of the 70s. What could ever go wrong?

    I do love the scene where John Travolta is doing his hair and dancing in his underwear, though. Very entertaining.

    1. branch Post author

      Yes, exactly. Where is the kitch promised by the sparkly cover of the DVD? Wahhhhh. We didn’t watch till the end.

  4. Amber

    I remember being really weirded out by Saturday Night Fever.

    I also remember one Christmas, when I was maybe 7ish, my parents just gave up and let my sister and me open gifts at 4am because that was the only way anyone was going to get any sleep at all.

    Fortunately, my nearly 8 year old can now tell time, and is very committed to enforcing the ‘you may not wake up before 7am’ rule with her brother. It has saved me from this particular predicament.

  5. t

    First of all, despite everyones best efforts this has now made me want to finally see saturday night fever, if for no other reason than I will have something new to complain about. Second, I am a bit envious that you got to bear witness to such a high level of christmas excitement. I always secretly wish that I will find them up shaking gifts at 2am, delirious with the anticipation of it all. Maybe next year! I know that feeling though, the one where you just want to sleep, and jesus! please! can’t we just go back to bed?!

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