'Twas the night before Christmas Eve when all through the house, not a creature was stirring (except the husband playing Star Wars Online and the neurotic cat). The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of Pillow Pets danced in their heads.
4 hours driving today to bring my babies home and I have MISSED them. I miss them of course any time they're away, I missed them when Bingley and I had our Parisian extravaganza, but truly, this last week I have missed them most. I missed their excitement about Christmas and stealing overheard whispers about Santa. I have missed getting ready for tomorrow while they giggle and laugh and get under my feet and ask me a million questions. I have missed curling up in bed at night with a brightly coloured Christmas book and weaving more magic. I have even missed being woken to the excited babble of the latest window in the Lego Advent calendar.
I have missed being able to do Christmas cooking and making pompoms for the table with them, and though I sat down last night with plenty of time to cut out the Christmas dresses I couldn't do it. I needed them home with me, and now that they're here I feel like singing again.
For our little family it is Christmas Eve that I look forward to beyond all days on the calendar. It is the day where magic reigns and no matter the year I/we have had or how miserable or cynical or overwhelmed I may have felt in that year, I have never ever failed to feel the veil between adulthood and childhood lifted on that magic night. I always believe in magic, but sometimes a wave of cynicism swamps me and tries to muddy it up. And even the most brilliant moon or a stunning eclipse or the twinkliest stars can't make a dent in it.
But Christmas, Christmas is sacred. The night when bells ring on the stillest breeze and somehow every wish is possible, just might be granted. And in amongst it all the feasting, the togetherness and the family all trump. Until stuffed and exhausted I curl up in my bed, brilliantly lit from the fairy lights in the next room and I smile until my face aches.
It was pouring with rain when we came home tonight and slipped across the wet grass in the dark as we climbed the stairs. The chatter of excited children all around me as I invited them to turn on the gaudy festive lights that I had spent an afternoon unravelling and tacking to the banisters. And as they exclaimed and clapped, while the rain misted over us and sparkled with the lights I could not help but feel that the greatest gift I have ever been given is them - they make everything worthwhile.
And now as the quiet drum of the rain rhythmically caresses the roof, and the gentle gurgle of the gutters and the wet splash on the grass echo through the night, I have my right to steal into the softly lit rooms where little people are curled. And to smooth locks of damp ruffled hair from high smooth foreheads and gift them good dreams as I tuck in dimpled limbs and kiss their baby skin, sniffling in the darkness at how wonderful it is to have them home.