Christmas went well, particularly as I gave my children the loving instruction, "look, now you're not 6 any longer and I'll tell you right now that Santa gave up when it came to finding inexpensive small gifts appropriate for a Male Child of a certain age* and so while your stockings will be filled they will be rather sugarfull and unexciting. Therefore there is NO reason for any one of you to be making any noise whatsoever before 9 o'clock." The Children wisely heeded (helped along by the fact that they are all teenagers and incapable of voluntarily peeling themselves out of bed before 10) and we were thus all reasonably awake AND willing to see each other (even the don't-touch-me Child**) by the time present opening happened.
One of the Children had been breaking my heart by listing its Christmas-wants rapidly and then softly, nearly inaudibly adding the one rather expensive item it really truly wanted but was sure it could never have. By dint of taking on some very timely extra work however said Child and it's sibling did indeed have a happy Christmas (other Child got its expensive item for a birthday and was well warned that Christmas would be rather less impressive. It did express great delight in two sweaters - with long enough [for now] sleeves and an additional small item that at least eased the pain of a practical present).
Two Children were shipped off the next day to a winter encampment for the Civil Air Patrol while the other was driven to do a house/pet sitting job leaving me with utter and complete peace and quiet for a grand total of four days. That's four days in which: dishes did not spring up like mushrooms in various areas of the house that should be dish-free; floors once vacuumed remained vacuumed; counters wiped down did not somehow acquire crumbs or sticky spots of jam; there was no accumulation in corners or surfaces of spare books, pieces of paper, wrappers of any kind, discarded socks, games, movies or other detritus of living. It was, in short, a very tidy four days. It was also very quiet and, after a day or so, quite boring. So I was more than happy to welcome them all back - Child 2 on the 30th and Children 1 and 3 on the 31st.
New Years Eve then, having recovered said Children and their huge amount of gear we spent a loud few minutes discussing what the day should include. Child 1, who had not only spent five days attending lectures, viewing planes, doing exercises and team-building activities and generally enjoying itself, but had also contracted a nasty flu somewhere around day 2 and had done all of these things while feverish - that Child seemed to favor rather a lot of lolling around and being generally recumbent. Child 3 (it of the endless energy) felt that five days of constant activity had fitted it out for MORE activity, preferably with rather a lot of noise. Child 2 went straight to the main point and suggested food.
As a rare treat each Child was allowed to choose one snack item. Child 3 predictably and popularly opted for potato chips, Child 1 chimed in with "Starburst! Or Skittles! Or Jelly beans!" Which, considered in combination with the chips made me feel just a leetle green. Child 2 however shouted loudly for a particular kind of cheese we had discovered just the day before - a lovely French sheep's-milk cheese which smells rather like dirty socks but tastes fantastic, particularly on crackers. We got all three. You may take a moment to rinse your mouth out now if you like.
So a happy day of sort of oddly assorted snacking followed. Since Netflix had kindly delivered while the Children were away we had a MacGuyver marathon*** and generally rolled around on couches most of the time. Eventually however I decided that as a parent I would have to insist on some sort of food-other-than-junk and I staggered into the kitchen to start parboiling the potatoes preparatory to roasting them.
Which eventually meant that said potatoes had to be drained, which when I returned to the kitchen a few minutes later to set the sausages (apple and chicken - lovely) to sizzle meant I stared down at the large damp patch on the kitchen rug and wondered if I had somehow sloshed the water without noticing. Which eventually led to a closer examination which resulted in an emergency call to all Children to present themselves at once for flood abatement duty.
Upon further examination it became clear that the u bend had developed a rather impressive hole - one Child has said it should be described as considerably larger than a single square of Hershey's chocolate (not the whole bar mind you - just the one square). We applied mop, towels, and a bucket and (after a small incident the next day where one Child started the dishwasher and learned a valuable lesson about where said dishwasher drains) we managed to sort things out.
So we started our New Year a little more damp than we would have liked, but still with our heads above water. Toasts were made to the Child Who Will Graduate (gulp) this year, to to change and to achievement, and to a better This Year than Last.
And then we all went to bed early because we're sadly not as young as we used to be.
Here's to a New Year - a good one, I truly hope, for us all.
* St. Nick, in our house at least, does not condone small pieces of junk which accumulate but serve no purpose. Such items are, in my opinion, along with plastic Easter grass among the smaller works of resident evil in our world.
** We are exploring releasing our own version of a popular toy to celebrate this particular Child. It will be called "Don't-Touch-Me-Elmo," and if you try to hug it it will elbow you in the stomach.
*** I forgot! A few episodes ago we learned the use for that toothpick thingy in a Swiss Army Knife! It is meant to poke small holes in plastic bags when one is constructing a water clock for the purpose of creating a diversion so one may rescue the hostages on the bayou. You're welcome.