I always think of this Christmas as the sweet spot. It was the last Christmas we lived in blissful innocence. A few months later in the spring of 1989, my older daughter would be diagnosed with liver disease.
It was the Christmas that my sister visisted on Christmas Eve with my nieces and we all ate lasagna together before my family headed off to the children’s mass at our church.
It was the Christmas Santa Claus wrapped up a bicycle for my younger daughter with a whole roll of wrapping paper. Because Santa was cool like that.
It was the Christmas the kids woke us up by playing my John Denver Christmas tape as loud as they could on a portable tape player just outside our bedroom door.
It was the Christmas my in-laws decided to start giving the kids savings bonds as gifts. I have a photo of my daughters holding their bonds and standing next to their grandfather. My younger daughter is rather neutral (because really why not? Her brand new bike is just a few feet away) but my older daughter’s confusion as to why her grandparents think a 3x8 piece of paper is such a big deal is clearly apparent on her face.
We were blessed by normalcy. We were barely middle class. But that never really mattered to me. I had a family. A beautiful family. And happiness. Never more so than on those Christmas mornings when the kids tore into their gifts and my husband and I sat on the couch with coffee and cookies watching the chaos.
I can’t remember a single gift I got that Christmas. Oh…wait.