Speed is relative.  I, for one, feel that the Christmas season has come upon us suddenly, with the holiday itself approaching at a ferocious pace, leaving me little time to prepare.  LittleMan, on the other hand, is mired in that special December quicksand reserved only for small children, wherein he wants nothing more than to sprint straight to the morning of the 25th, while all the dull grown-ups hold up the party.

“Is it after this day?” he asks every morning.  In the peculiar syntax he has developed, “after this day” means “tomorrow.”  So while yes, Christmas is, in fact, after this day, it is NOT soon enough after this day to satisfy my older child.

“It’s after this day, and then a few weeks after that day,” we respond.
“After this day, then.”
“Sort of.  But not tomorrow.”

He found his Advent calendar in the hall closet.  As you have gleaned by now, we live in a small apartment and the hall closet contains many mysteries, some of which I have long written off (an iron wok; an entire shoebox of cables of unknown origin or purpose; a four-cup coffeepot from my first pregnancy, when I didn’t drink caffeine).  The hall closet is literally the only space in the house for hiding presents, and we do so by stacking them on a spare dining chair (also stuffed into the closet) and throwing a big blanket over them.  Somehow the Advent calendar got away, and we have let him keep it out as a means of throwing him off the scent of the other surprises in the pile.

We are holding firm that the Advent calendar is to stay shut until December 1.  After much back-and-forth during the Thanksgiving break about which day, exactly, December 1 is after, LittleMan has figured out that there are five days left until he can open it.

“I counted to one in my bed this morning,” he said.  “And tomorrow I’ll count to two, and then three and four and FIVE!  And when I count to five I can open my Advent calendar.  Can I look at my Advent calendar now?”  And he clambers onto the couch and quietly studies the pictures on the box.  “There’s a star in my Advent calendar!  There’s a Santa in my Advent calendar!”

Babygirl is oblivious to the impending festivities: the live tree that will soon be erected in the livingroom and the cookie eating and the many evenings of celebration when she will stay up past her bedtime.  But she follows LittleMan’s lead in all things, so she’s getting a wee bit delirious by proxy.  They wake up every morning, one immediately after the other, and within minutes are whipped into a pre-Christmas frenzy.

We are trying desperately to keep this from occurring before 6am.

The children share a room, and in that room is a Teach-Me-Time clock that turns green precisely at 6:05am, this being the minute when my husband and I feel prepared to face the music.  LittleMan tries very very hard to respect the clock, and we often hear him, twitching around in his bed and thunking against the wall between our rooms, after around 5:30.  His ruffling will often wake Babygirl, who could give two licks about the clock, and she immediately begins yammering away.

Once Babygirl is awake, all bets are off.

LittleMan throws open the door to their room and streaks past our room, where we are decidedly not sleeping, out to the livingroom, his white-blond hair ghostly in the early-morning dark.  Babygirl, still confined to her crib, shouts after him: “LittleMan!  LITTLEMAN!”, rattling the bedrail in an attempt to break free.  Finding no one in the livingroom, and all the lights off (because Mommy and Daddy are still hiding in bed and hoping the kids will go back to sleep), LittleMan returns to the bedroom, and climbs up the rails of his sister’s bed so they are face-to-face.

“Babygirl, they’ll hear us in a minute,” he stage whispers, “and then Daddy will come in.  So I’ll talk to you until then.  And then we can get up!  And it’s Christmas now!”  (Later, at dinner, LittleMan sighs longingly: “I can’t wait for my little sister to learn to talk.”)

One of us finally musters the energy to roll out of bed, where we find them, Babygirl becoming increasingly frantic at her imprisonment and LittleMan throwing open the curtains.  “Mommy, it’s still nighttime!  The sun isn’t shining!”

“It’s early, love.  So early.  That’s why.”
“Is it Christmas today?”
“No, baby.”
“When is it Christmas?”
“It’s five weeks until Christmas.”  (This is when I realize I am not going to get a proper night’s sleep until January.)
“But there are decorations outside, and that means it’s Christmas.”
“It’s the Christmas season.
“So it’s Christmas.”
“I need coffee.  Let’s head to the kitchen.”

LittleMan sprints down the hall, narrowly makes the turn to the kitchen, and flips on the lights.  Babygirl waddles after him, clutching her baby doll.

“Is today a school day?” LittleMan asks.
“Is it still Thanksgiving?”
“No, love.”
“Do I still have my Advent calendar?”

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