Ada has gone a bit wild with the holiday preparations this year but Ed can’t find any fault with it, so he just lets her do whatever she wants around the house.
Of course it helps that all three children are now old enough to look forward to the upcoming holiday with as much patience as a horde of hungry animals. Doing small crafts and having advent calenders are small but necessary distractions to help them endure all through December.
Ed can’t remember being this involved in the holiday preparations back when Josephine was a kid, but he supposes it’s one of those things he missed out on while being successful at work. If he could change that, he would, but he can’t so he makes certain he doesn’t repeat the mistakes with his young children now.
It’s a luxury to have that sort of second chance at life and he always appreciates it a little bit more when they approach various holidays or the kids’ birthdays are coming up. Those times when family truly is the only thing that matters.
The girls especially are eager to celebrate and the night before Christmas they are reluctant to leave the decorated tree or go to bed since you never know what you might miss out on if you sleep.
They’re lucky – it’s been snowing for most of the afternoon so once they’ve had supper Ada brings the girls outside for some much needed activity in the snow.
While he truly does enjoy playing with his children, Ed can’t claim he’s much of a snowman-building-parent-type. At all. Especially not these days when he finds he gets cold much easier than he used to back when he was younger. A lot of physically active things are less appealing to him now than they used to be, truth be told and he knows that Ada gets that even if they don’t really talk about it much. Heck, she claims she’s getting old as well which he remembers from his own past. That feeling when you’re on the other side of 40, like a pre-taste of how it’s going to be like in twenty years.
He’s past feeling selfish for starting over with family life, though. It’s no use when he’s already got three young children, brings nothing but agony and while it might be true that kids don’t need a 70-year-old dad to pick them up after school, they most definitely don’t need a parent with crippling regret and angst.
The girls claim to be “super embarrassed, like really” whenever Ed and Ada show affection for each other, but he suspects they actually find it pretty sweet. His own parents barely touched each other outside – he supposes, at least – of their bedroom and he grew up wondering if they stayed married not to hurt his feelings.
That’s not something he wishes for his own children so he’s always open with how much he loves their mother. If he won’t be around to see them grow up and have families of their own, at least he wants them to have memories of him being affectionate and tender.
Then it’s finally Christmas! Ed cooks pancakes for them all in the early morning.
Christopher is extremely thrilled to get to meet Santa and the girls, too, even if Ed suspects Kirsten has her doubts about Santa’s existence. She’s being a good sport about it, though, not teasing her younger siblings.
They’ve made plans with Josephine and her family to celebrate together and Ed feels very happy to be able to do that. It’s not always the case when a parent start over with a second family and grown-up children, he knows, and he definitely feels lucky to be part of a context where they can all enjoy each other’s company.
It’s a long wait for the dinner guests, though, an endless, restless day.
They’re not a larger-than-life family, the Couslands. They celebrate low-key, in their own fashion, where eveyone is allowed to participate as much or as little as they want.
Evelyn gets a massive doll house as one of her gifts and that keeps the girls entertained for the rest of the evenings, without much trouble at all. Even Kirsten who has never been a big fan of dolls and who often claims she’s getting too old for these kinds of toys plays along with the rest of them.
Christopher makes up stories for the dolls, but Evelyn won’t let him actually decorate the house with any of the furniture since he’s too clumsy and just makes a mess of it. She’s happy to let her older sister and cousin do it, though.
Ed has the distinct impression for most of the evening that his oldest daughter has a secret – it’s in the way she looks at her husband sometimes, the way she smiles, mostly to herself, for seemingly no reason.
So he’s not that surprised when she finally confesses that she’s pregnant.
It’s still early – very early, she points out, anything can happen – and they’ve only recently found out themselves, but they’re both so visibly excited that Ed almost turns into a weepy old man.
He had been happy to meet his first grandchild but that situation was wildly different and the joy had been mixed up with worry. This time, however, his emotions are merely those of deep, profound happiness.
* Thrilled about Josephine’s baby! I hope they can have two or three, but we’ll see what happens. 🙂