This is the best time of day, early, and everyone still sleeping. Even the puppy, who was intent on playing at 6:00 a.m. is curled up on the couch, nose tucked under tail.
It's Christmas Eve (day?), almost 7:00 a.m. I've started the laundry, there's vegetable stock simmering on the stove, and I'm into my second cup of tea.
The shopping is done. Today is cleaning and baking. The family Christmas Eve service late afternoon and then back to our house for soup and sandwiches with both of our mothers. The kids will open one gift. Tomorrow it's just the four of us at home in the morning and then we'll head out to my mother-in-law's late morning for Christmas dinner (lunch) and the last of the presents.
All of that is ahead of me, and I'm content to let it stay there. To enjoy this quiet with the hum of the washing machine and the kitten purring next to me.
Right now it seems I will accomplish everything and will barely be effected by the tension that is always present when my mother is in the same room with me and/or my family.
Yesterday I stopped by the library and picked up a few books in anticipation of the post-Christmas peace. My mind is already churning with New Year's Resolutions and crafty projects. Pounds lost and habits changed. The actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day almost seem irrelevant, small.
Not insignificant, but properly in perspective. They may be the culmination of much planning, stress and labor, but it is in the days and weeks leading up to tomorrow that the true spirit of Christmas resides.