On Night 1, Tuesday, December 23, I get back from picking up the rental car at around 6:45. Emelia is taking a late nap, and given how long the night would be, we let her sleep while we light the Chanukah candles and pack the car. She wakes up as we're finishing the packing, and we bring her down to open the rest of her major Chanukah presents so we don't have to take them up to Connecticut. After eating a quick dinner, we're able to get on the road by 8:15, already past when Emelia normally goes to sleep. Only an hour in, we stop for caffeine, figuring that most of it should have left our systems by the time we'd want to go to sleep upon arrival. While I'm inside the Rest Area, Kathy explains to the still-awake Emelia that Mommy and Daddy would need to stay awake, but that she should go to sleep. The incredibly empathetic child of ours is determined to bear the burden with us, and refuses to go to sleep despite our encouragement. In fact, whenever we push her to sleep, she pushes back, and in so doing stays up many hours past when she ever stays up. Finally, at 1am, she drifts to sleep, giving her about an hour before we stop at my in-laws house in Connecticut. She wakes up at that point, as we bring all the luggage in and get situated in the room we're staying in. The trundle bed designated for her is high enough off the ground that we don't want to risk her falling onto the tile floor, as she still sleeps with a bumper in her own bed. So at around 3am, I climb into the trundle, and Emelia sleeps in the queen bed with Kathy.
Day 1 begins at 7:15 when I awake to the light outside. I try to get the dogs out of the room quietly, but the room is cramped for three people and two dogs, and it's hard for me to get out of the room without waking Emelia. So soon everyone is up, and the day gets going. Emelia is able to take a three hour nap during the day, but that's not uncommon for her, and she still could have used many hours more. I sneak in about a 45 minute nap myself. Kathy's sister Suz gets home from work around 5:30, and she comes bearing a growler of IPA from the best brewery in the state. I thank her, and those of us who enjoy such beverages quickly consume the contents of the growler in their entirety.
Night 2 commences when we're able to get Emelia to bed around 8pm, as the excitement of Christmas Eve and all the presents in plain view has hit her. The small Chanukah present she opens does nothing to diminish her desire to open the multitude of presents sitting under the tree. The trundle has been moved out of the room, and Emelia sleeps on a single mattress that rests on the floor. Kathy heads to bed around 9, and I follow suit about an hour later.
At 5:15, Day 2, a.k.a., Christmas, begins when Emelia wakes up and won't go back to sleep, so the lot of us exit the room and have a leisurely morning. We tell Emelia she must wait for her Aunt Suzie to get up before we open the presents, and she's pretty good about that. All the same, when the presents are finally opened, I consider the change in Emelia's demeanor. At her birthday less than two months earlier, she had taken delight with each present, not entirely sure about the whole concept. But with the experiences of that event and the opening of Chanukah presents, she has moved into full-fledged present mode, where she wants more more more. Given that many presents remain, however, awaiting the return of Emelia's cousins from Christmas at their father's, Emelia's present thirst remains unslaked.
In the afternoon, we take a short walk with the dogs, all of us glad to stretch our legs, both for the simple sake of exercise, and to address the gluttony that accompanies the holidays at my in-laws, the result of Mom's delight in holiday mail-order foods, both main courses and desserts. Mom always makes full breakfasts, and although lunches are somewhat tamer, dessert follows it and most dinners. After we get back from the walk, we have a little down time before we head out the door for what is becoming our tradition of sushi for Christmas dinner. We had done Chinese for several years, in honor of my Jewish roots, but given that we all enjoy sushi much more, the tradition has changed. We are not alone, because although we had lit the candles for Chanukah before we left, people at another large table at the restaurant bring a menorah and do the prayers there.
Night 3 starts upon our return from dinner. Emelia goes to sleep as soon as we get back, but still it's after 8pm. Again Kathy goes to sleep before I do, but neither of us are ready for the 3am wake-up cries of Emelia after she fell out of bed. Kathy is the one who responds, but nothing she does is able to get Emelia to go back to sleep. I finally suggest bringing Emelia into our bed, and she settles right in after that, getting back to sleep around 4.
Day 3 starts around 7, when Emelia and I get up, along with the dogs, and leave Kathy to grab more shuteye. Kathy comes upstairs around 9. The day is uneventful but relaxing, as generally all the days have been.
Night 4 begins shortly after dinner. Emelia stays up for a little bit, but is rubbing her eyes and so to bed she goes. Kathy quickly follows suit, but I stay up for a while. When I finally decide to go to sleep, I have it in mind to sleep in my nephew's room with the dogs (he and his sisters don't return from their father's until Sunday night), hopefully letting everyone get a decent night of sleep. I come into the room to turn off the light Kathy left on for me, and when she stirs, I tell her my plan. Despite being fairly quiet, Emelia wakes up during my maneuver, and starts calling "Daddy." This was a new experience for me, as she generally wants Kathy when she's upset. The result is that I can't get out of the room without Emelia going into loud cries of "Daddy." I finally end up putting her into our bed and stay there with her, hoping to have her fall asleep so I can go back upstairs. No such luck, as every time I move she looks over to make sure I'm still there. The dogs by this point have come downstairs and I've put them into the room. Emelia starts positioning herself laterally, taking up more of the bed than can permit three of us to sleep together. I sneak off to the bathroom, and still she calls out for me, so I return and climb into her bed. I try to sleep, and according to Kathy I sleep for a bit (my snores gave me away), but it's not a restful sleep, and I resolve to go back upstairs to try to sleep, a sentiment Kathy encourages so she can sleep. Damned if Emelia doesn't start crying out after me again, and it's worse than fingernails on a chalkboard to have her cries tearing at me as I exit without answering them. Kathy comforts her successfully at last, and after a while of lying in my nephew's bed, I do in fact get all the way to sleep by 1am.
Day 4 begins around 6:15, and after lying in bed for a few minutes, realizing I won't fall back asleep, I hear Emelia downstairs. So I go down there, and relieve Kathy so she can go back to sleep. Kathy grabs another hour or so, and after breakfast, Emelia decides she neither wants to stay in her pajamas or get dressed. Thus, she spends half an hour giggling wildly while running around in nothing but her diaper. After we all finally get dressed, we hit the post office to send a misdirected Christmas present to Texas. Another day, another nap for me, and I actually clear an hour this time. Emelia tops that by a goodly amount, nearing four hours.
Night 5 begins optimistically, as Emelia goes to bed before 8, Kathy follows at 9, and I'm in bed by 10. All is well until Kathy has to go to the bathroom at 4:30, which wakes up Emelia. To stop the crying, Kathy brings her into bed with us, but she's really not interested in going back to sleep. However, she is enjoying kicking my stomach. Around 5:30, Kathy takes Emelia from the room, muttering something about us leaving Wednesday instead of Saturday, and I'm able to fall back asleep. Said sleep is ended shortly before 7, when Junebug decides that she needs my attention.
And here we are in Day 5. Kathy has rescinded her Wednesday departure statement, and Emelia is a whirling dervish of activity. I have no idea what the night will bring, but I expect the feeling of dread to start overwhelming me about the time we light the candles for the last night of Chanukah.