Merry Christmas to all! It’s been a mixed bag for us. We started out our trip by experimenting with driving through the night. This is the tried and true method that Kira’s brother uses – it offers the advantages of less traffic, and sleeping children, which also means fewer bathroom and food stops. What could go wrong?
We left at 8:00 p.m. and I drove until around 1:00 a.m. The first thing that did not go according to plan was that the children did not sleep right away all snuggled up in their blankets and jammies. Instead, they were wide awake with excitement until about midnight. That was a big problem because Kira needed to be sleeping so that she could take over the operation of keeping our several-hundred-pound vehicle on the road while traveling at 70 mph. Instead, she was busy handing out snacks; informing the children that no, we were not almost there; and all the other things it takes to occupy such young minds when they are forced to hold still for any amount of time.
Kira did take over for a few hours, but I have never been very good at sleeping in moving vehicles. I suppose I can’t quite relax. I dozed off for maybe 5 or 10 minutes, and then was up. I took over for Kira and we both went back and forth struggling to catch a few minutes of sleep while also tending to the children’s every whim.
Finally, while Kira was napping I simply couldn’t handle it any more and had to pull over for a few winks while the children watched a movie. That was a smart move, as it probably is what made it possible to finish the trip. We arrived around 1:00 p.m., feeling relieved and defeated at the same time. We are still recovering from it, so we may need to make some major adjustments to this scheme if we are to try it again, beginning with much better naps for both of us before pulling out of the driveway.
Still, the trip has been entirely worth it. The kids have had a blast with each other and their cousins. Avey took a shining to origami, and spent almost all of Christmas Eve doing various projects with the ancient art of folding paper. She really seems to have a skill for it. Hakan has been particularly interested in my brother’s dog who accompanied them. Merritt is just glad to have so many new fans, and a huge space to explore. Carver mostly just wants to play the retro video game consoles at my mother’s house.
Christmas itself has been a bizarre day of ups and downs. It began with the boys waking me at 4:30 a.m. The way the sleeping arrangements have worked out, I struggled greatly to keep them from waking every other person in the house. I finally ended up showering them and then feeding them, but never did get back to bed myself. We were scheduled to get to my mother’s (we are sleeping at Kira’s parents’ home) for present unwrapping at 7. It was an epic event of giving and receiving, and we all left most satisfied with both.
By the time it was over our boys were exhausted, Avey and Kira had not eaten a thing, and we had but 30 minutes to get ourselves dressed for a choir performance at church. Hakan was the most defiant I have ever seen, kicking and screaming so that he had to finally be forced into his clothes, after which he kicked off his shoes and socks so that we had to take him in the car barefooted. It came as little surprise when he fell asleep in his aunt’s arms during the service. Carver, too, zonked out right there on the pew in the front row. Even little Merritt, after giving the ever-patient Avey a run for her money, passed out among the forte of the choir and organ.
It seems this year the gift we need more than anything is some uninterrupted sleep. Still, we would give up a few more hours if it meant that much more time among our beloved families. We are so lucky to come from such wonderful families, where we know that we are welcome and loved. As we charge into 2017 with full fury, we reflect on our fortunate circumstances and all of the joy that surrounds us, even when it is sometimes hard to see for all the poopy diapers and screaming. I, for one, would not trade it for the world.