Christmas magic, "Good-by, Sweet Day"

To a child, there is nothing quite like the night before Christmas.  My oldest son, Jacob, said emphatically to me on Christmas Eve, “I am NOT going to be able to sleep tonight.”  I remember feeling that same way when I was a child. 

So, was Christmas as magical for me this year?  I must admit, I was not feeling very well.  I’m getting over a cold that “wiped” me right out.  However, as Rich and I finally finished up the Christmas preparations on Christmas Eve, and started gently and carefully placing the gifts “just so” under the tree, I found myself smiling and getting excited.   I put pretty shiny bows on everything and after we were done, the tree, with all the gifts around and under it, looked so beautiful.  One of the things I love about my husband is the way he enjoys making Christmas special for the children.  He is very generous, and wants them all to be thrilled when they get up on Christmas morning.  Spending time with him in our living room, preparing for the next day, made me so happy, and I did actually have a hard time getting to sleep that night!  I couldn’t wait to see Jacob’s face when he opened his castle, or Ethan opening his guitar, or Grace with her new cash register.  And, who can forget my busy little Davy-do?  He would get to open his very own tool box, complete with tools, and a pile of wood, just for him.  Little Caleb only needs “choo-choo’s” to make him happy, and there were four for him under the tree.

The next morning, at 5:20, Jacob and Ethan woke us up as they came downstairs.  Rich went out and wished them a “Merry Christmas” and sent them right back to bed for just one more hour.  An “eternity” to two excited little boys.  Eventually the time came for us, the parents, to get out of bed and call down our wide-awake little ones.  Grace, Jacob, and Ethan came downstairs and sat on the couch to talk to each other about what they could see, and held their stockings in their laps.  Rich and I made some coffee and sipped it from red and green fiesta mugs.

At 6:45, Rich went upstairs to wake up David and Caleb.   We couldn’t believe that they “slept in” on the most exciting morning of the year!  David came out of his room half asleep and scowling, but soon the scowl turned to a smile when he realized that Christmas was finally here!

It was so fun to watch them open their gifts, to see their eyes light up and hear the excitement in their voices.  Caleb took all of his gifts to his Daddy to open, and he just loved all his new trains.  I just kept taking pictures and thinking, “Enjoy it.  Enjoy it.  Christmas won’t be like this forever.”  Like my header says, “These Truly are the Wonder Years”. . .yes, they are, and it’s the wonder of seeing the world, and the moments we have together, through the eyes of a child.  One of the best parts of parenting, is getting to experience the early years all over again, watching our children enjoy their childhood, and remembering our own.

This Christmas, the children played non stop all day long.  They loved the castle most of all.  We bought it for Jacob, but told him that it was for them all to play with.  David loved his tools and I laughed so much to see him wearing the big safety goggles as he hammered away.  You have already seen the photos of lil’ Woody and lil’ Buzz.  How cute they were in their costumes!  Rich would say, “Hi, Woody!!” and Caleb would say, “NO!  I CAY-YUB!” in his little voice. . .so dear and sweet.

Rich started picking up the wrapping paper just as soon as it was all over but I begged him to leave it as it was for a while.  Once the papers and bows are gathered up to throw away, the morning would seem so final.  I wanted to enjoy the mess for a change.

Rich surprised me with a few more gifts — some Godiva chocolates (my favorite), two pairs of black gloves (he couldn’t decide so he bought both), and a tripod for my camera. 

The day was a happy one, I loved this Christmas.

Our house, on Christmas Eve.  I went for a walk….the ice on the ponds was so pretty.


Our five, in new jammies, on Christmas Eve.  My heart skips a beat when I see this photo.  David is getting taller!  He’s almost as tall as Grace!  How did that happen?  Grace has a new nightgown on, and she has her Bitty Baby doll, who has a nightgown just like her “mommy”.


Christmas morning, I like how Rich and I are reflected in the window.  (We’re standing in the kitchen.)


Christmas morning coffee


Davy-do’s smile when he sees the tree and all the presents.


Our firstborn, emptying his stocking, and finding a grenade!


Did anyone else run out of wrapping paper?  I did, but Caleb was so happy to see the Thomas rug, which was one of his gifts.  He loves pushing his trains around on it.


The boys busy getting their toys out of the boxes.  It’s not easy.  They had me help now and then.  Rich is in the background, with Caleb in his lap.


Caleb, dressed up in his Woody costume, looking at his new Thomas book.


Ethan was thrilled with his new guitar and unwrapped the big box so excitedly.  It’s one of my favorite moments of the entire day, seeing him tear the paper off and throw it behind him, smiling so big!


The most beautiful mess of all. . .the papers and bows from unwrapped Christmas gifts.


Little David, busy making “an airplane” with his new wood, hammer, and nails.


David joining his little brother for some choo-choo play.



Setting up the castle.  I love their bright, happy faces.


In this photo, the children are all opening cards from their Uncle David.  Look at Grace’s face.  They each got 15 dollars.  They acted like it was a million.  Well, except for Caleb.  He threw his card and slid down to the floor, back to his trains.



Rich is home all this week, taking a much needed vacation.  I am still so very tired from this cold. . .in fact, this morning I went back to bed at 9am!  I’ve been just sort of hanging around, doing a little here, a little there, trying to avoid all heavy work, LOL.  Rich has been doing most of the kitchen work, either that or making the children do it!  He even scrubbed the bathroom shower stall this morning!  I asked him, teasingly, if he was going to potty train Caleb, too, during his vacation, but he said no.  Today we had to go to the grocery store, but other than that we’ve been pretty low-key all week long.  I can’t believe that tomorrow is Friday already.  Caleb has my sickness now, and is absolutely miserable.  Grace says she’s feeling funny, too.  We were planning on driving to NY this weekend but all signs say “NO” at this point. . .

And, yes, I’ve been enjoying my new piano so very much.  I’m able to play everything that I could play before (it’s been 8 years since I last played) and it’s so so good to do it again.

Thank you all for your kindness to me here, and your friendship.  I had a box come from a dear xanga friend in Alaska, with lovely gifts inside, and several Christmas cards from some of you!  I just shake my head in wonder, and in awe over the way God has blessed us with such sweet Christian fellowship, in which we can be so close, and even love, our sisters in Christ whom we have never seen face to face!  I just love that!  We truly have a wonderful heavenly Father. . . . .

Merry Christmas once again to you all!  I’ll leave you with a dear little poem I read today. 

“Good-by, Sweet Day”

Good-by, sweet day, good-by!
I have so loved thee, but I cannot keep thee.
Departing like a dream, the shadows fold thee;
Slowly thy perfect beauty fades away.
Good-by, sweet day!

Good-by, sweet day, good-by!
Dear were thy golden hours of tranquil splendor;
Sadly thou yieldest to the evening tender,
Who wert so fair from thy first morning ray;
Good-by, sweet day!

Good-by, sweet day, good-by!
Thy glow and charm, thy smiles and tones and glances
Vanish at last, and solemn night advances;
Ah, couldst thou yet a little longer stay!
Good-by, sweet day!

Good-by, sweet day, good-by!
All thy rich gifts my grateful heart remembers,
The while I watch thy sunset’s smoldering embers
Die in the west beneath the twilight gray.
Good-by, sweet day!

~Celia Thaxter


0 thoughts on “Christmas magic, "Good-by, Sweet Day"

  1. Shanda-I loved reading this and I could feel your excitement and joy! Your pics are wonderful and truly captivate your time together as a family. Your presents were beautifully wrapped and looked so elegant under your tree. I am so happy that you had such a wonderful Christmas! I am sending out “New Year” cards this year. šŸ™‚ So, mine will be coming in the next couple weeks. You are a blessing and a sweet friend.

  2. I miss young children, warm flannel pj’s,  trains, building blocks, wrapping paper all over — looks like you had a wonderful day at your house — thank you for sharing with us —

  3. Beautiful pics!! šŸ™‚ I love the pond- how blessed you are to have that right outside your front door!! Wow.
    My little guy-  Jake, I think is the same age as your Caleb. Jakey got a Thomas the Train train table and tracks for Christmas. šŸ™‚ He spent ALL day playing with his train table. He was very serious with his track building (and demolishing!).
    MERRIEST Wishes!!!

  4. Wow! What beautiful pictures. The pond and the house and all the snow… pretty and so Christmasy! You are truly blessed to live on such beautiful land in such a beautiful home filled with love.
    The tree is really pretty and I just love all the pictures of your family together.
    Thanks for sharing your joy and your life with us!
    blessings to you and your family,

  5. Oh, the joys of jillions of pieces of paper and bows and smiles and flannel pjs and waking up at 4:30 a.m. (I did — my teenage sons slept ’til 7!) and knowing that for one day, whether in snow or sun, so many homes are warmed by joyous celebrations of our Lord’s birth.

  6. what a beautiful family you have. you must be so proud. and your christmas morning sounds perfect. christmas has gotten so much more fun since having kids. just seeing there excitment and joy, brings me so much pleasure. hope you have a wonderful new year. blessings, ~heidi (visiting from the christian parents blog)ps your relationship with your sister sounds a lot like mine. she is my best friend and i treasure her so much =)

  7. Aw. Yeah I miss those days too. Waking up early on Christmas morning. Right now I’m looking forward to when my husband, and I have children of our own to watch opening gifts. I love the look on their faces especially! Well, Happy New Year to you, and your family! I loved the photos you took of your lil ones!
    Comment back,

  8. Enjoyed seeing your day!  We look forward to that day for soo long, and then it’s over, just like that….but the fond memories stay around awhile longer.  One of my children made the proclamation that we have to wait one day longer for Christmas next year, because of leap year!   =)

  9. I’m glad your day was delightful, it certainly looks like it was.  I’ve got the same sickness, so I feel your pain.  Yuck. šŸ˜¦  I hope you start feeling better (and the kiddos, too.)

  10. Reading about your Chritmas was such a wonderful break from the stress of today, reminding me of my childhood and then Brianna’s.My whole spirit has finally relaxed. Your blogging is such a blessing to me.

  11. I enjoyed your pictures and post very much. Your writing often evokes fond memories for me of when my own children were little. You are right……… these are special years for you. I am so glad that you understand that and are taking the time to savor and record it. Hope you are feeling better. Glad Rich is home and you can rest a bit more.

  12. I loved reading this post.  It brought smiles and joyful tears.  Thank you for sharing it.  Oh, the scrapbook mom made was full of her own pages she made for me.  I look at it everyday–can’t get enough of the good feelings it gives me.  :>)  I’m so glad you have a piano!  Pretty soon you’ll have a singing band in your house!  Lots of love, Lish

  13. This was a beautiful post. I felt the same way as you, once the wrappin paper is cleaned up, it turns into a somewhat just another day. Your statement about the Wonder Years is so very TRUE…my girls are 13 and 9, soon they will be ….. glup, little adults themselves….Your pics are beautiful, you have a gorgeous home!!! Take care, hope the flu bug disappears!!! Have an awesome weekend as a family, we are doing just that, staying home just the four of us…Lisa

  14. What a great post! Looks like the kids had a great Christmas morning. I love the looks on their faces over the money. Too cute! I wish they will always think of Christmas with wonder. :)BlessingsMelodyI never finished my Christmas card list. šŸ˜¦ My dh had 55 people in his office to hand them to. Once I got those done, I ran out of steam and just didn’t get past the relatives. Sigh. Maybe next year….

  15. Just reading this gave me such a warm feeling.  Family is so important and your kids will remember all this.  I had to laugh when you wanted the paper to stay to enjoy the mess.  I thought the same thing this year.  My little one was sick but we made the best of it.  My Mom keeps telling me to enjoy because they don’t stay little long.  Thanks again for sharing and I hope you all get feeling better. šŸ™‚

  16. Great post.  My favorite pictures:  Your house with the frozen pond in the foreground, and the one with all the wrapping paper on the floor.
    ryc:  I knew you would like the kissing picture!  I remember you asking for a kissing picture a very long time ago.  šŸ™‚

  17. Shanda, I assume the piano music comes from your new piano. It is very beautiful. I remember back when I bought guitars for three of our children. Angela is in heaven and I wonder if she plays any instruments. I hope it is OK to wonder. Our Joy, has taught some piano. She is currently taking violin lessons. Albert

  18. What a wonderful Christmas you had. I’m so glad you had a good day. The kids sure look like they enjoyed their Christmas. Ethan looks great with that guitar!I am having so much fun with my family. The four kids are having a great time together… and making a big mess in my house. šŸ™‚ But I love it!

  19. I appreciate your perspective here.  I was the one fanatically picking up wrapping paper after each gift was opened, I will remember next time to enjoy the beautiful mess!  Christmas sure looks different through adult eyes…when did I get so old!!  The poem is very sweet, as well as the pictures of your darling family.  Glad you had a beautiful Christmas.

  20. Merry Christmas to you as well!
    The Thomas trio was a great shot, and the expression Gee had on her face when she discovered to her new found wealth! LOL!
    When I was growing up there were presents everywhere, just massive piles because there were six of us I imagine that at your place as well.

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