Christmas is different when the kids are grown up. Not worse. Just different. Mostly what is missing is the anticipation. Little kids get excited about Christmas. By Christmas eve, they are about delirious with the excitement. Big kids...well...they don't get delirious about much, unless they've been drinking, and we don't encourage that here. Anyhow, I miss the anticipation. I used to do my share to ratchet that excitement level up a bit. I had my own memories of four children lumped together in one bed whispering excitedly in the dark hours of Christmas morning. We had to worry about waking my father, so we were especially quiet, but the anticipation was a big part of Christmas for me, and I wanted to my kids to have those same sorts of memories, so rule one of Christmas morning at our house was that the kids could not go downstairs until they heard the clock 'bong' six. So one of them (usually Brianna) would wake up and creep from room to room waking the others. They'd then all congregate in one bedroom and whisper until it was almost six. Then they'd slip down the hall past our bedroom and sit at the top of the stairs waiting for the keywound clock to wheeze as it did before it began to chime. And for this time, I'd lay in bed and smile to myself, thinking about my own Christmases past, thinking about Christmases yet-to-come when my own children would be laying in bed in the wee hours of Christmas remembering their own Christmases past.
Yes. I was kind of a fanatic about Christmas excitement. Such a fanatic that if, by chance, the kids were not up by 5:30, I'd slip out of my own bed, and reach behind my door for the wrapping paper tube that I always left there. I'd crack my bedroom door, and the tube would slip through, and I'd bellow "HO HO HO!" By the time I got my own door shut, and sneaked back to my bed, the youngest kids were gasping 'Santa!' and scampering down the hall.
This year, we will have 4 out of 5 home. Early Christmas morning, I can guarantee you that I'll be laying wide awake smiling in the dark. And for a fact, there will be a wrapping paper tube behind my bedroom door. I can also guarantee that I won't be yelling 'HO HO HO' through it. Grown-up kids grumble and swear when they hear Santa in the hall at 5:30 AM.