A fantastic new tradition is happening in my house. I forget about it until around this time every year. Christmas time always pulls our family together. Things slow down a tiny bit and there are more nights we are all home. The last few weeks at least once or twice a week we put on a Christmas movie or some other classic and my wife and two daughters pass out on the couch. All between 10 minutes to the movie and 20 minutes. And I get to watch whatever movie we picked quietly with the ambient noise of snoring in the background. I have to say, it’s one of life’s greatest gifts I’ve ever received. All my tribe peacefully sleeping under one roof, in one room while the dog and I fight for whatever little space we were given on the couch.
I hardly ever get to pick the movie, even though I really haven’t ever selected a bad one to watch. I’ve got The Sandlot, Cast Away, Dazed and Confused, and their current favorite, Almost Famous as my recommendations in the past. I consistently get the worst seat, the smallest blanket and hear “I don’t even know how to work this remote; can you find the movie we want”, or my favorite, just as I plump my ass in my spot “while you are up can you get me a seltzer water Dad”.
Sometimes the movie is great, like last night with Home Alone 2, but most nights it’s a movie I can barely tolerate. Nobody wants to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, or White Christmas, it’s usually some crappy Hallmark style rom com or a movie we have seen 200 times. Guy and girl like each other, start to sort of fall in love and then guy does something the girl thinks was a slight against her, she cries, almost leaves the small town and then they fall back in love on Christmas eve at a big company party, NO WAY. I’ve seen so many versions of that story this year I know for a fact I could write one.
I hardly pay attention to the actual movie, I’m much more concerned with the order of who falls asleep and how ridiculously early in the movie it was. I smile to myself as they fight each other and try to rest legs and arms all over each other just to sneak that extra few inches of room or to get just that little bit closer to their Mom. Somehow, someway, my wife, who could fall asleep standing up ends up appearing to be the most comfortable. She outsmarts us all and appears to have just found that small bit of extra room. I watch and keep track of the first to pass out and I let whoever is awake know that one of them is already out. I don’t know why I tell them, as I know they will be asleep in the next few minutes anyway. But they all eventually are out cold. And I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I watch them, completely wrapped in a blanket with arms and legs looking like a human pretzel, but I swear they look so peacefully comfortable. They look happy, content, dreaming of whatever they dream about. My wife probably in some deep dream of a bigger house, better looking much much richer husband with a full head of hair I’m sure. But I can’t wipe the damn smile off my face. My world, all under one roof, snoring like absolute lunatics as I stay completely still in a crazy uncomfortable position on the couch waiting to see if these two love birds on the screen will realize they are in love and kiss under the mistletoe.
When the movie ends, I wake the kids up and direct them to their rooms. I watch as they first try to figure out where the hell they are, stumble to find their phones that had fallen from their grips and ended up somewhere on the carpet and finally make their way into their beds as the try to stay in whatever dream they were in. I leave my wife on the couch for a few reasons, one, I have learned to never ever wake my wife up. But, more importantly, she looks so damn peaceful. I watch as she stretches her legs out finding all this new space that was previously occupied by the kids. The room looks like a bomb went off in it, candy wrappers, snacks and drinks everywhere and blankets now fallen to the floor. To me though, it looks like a perfect night. I wake up the next morning before work or to drive my youngest to cheer practice on the weekend and I smile again as I pick up and fold the blankets and empty all the half drank seltzer waters. If I am lucky my wife is still sound asleep in that same spot I left her just a few hours before. The dog loves nights like these because he gets to steal my wife’s side of the bed for the night and strength his legs instead of being curled up on the edge of the bed.
Many years ago, I would think this was a wasted night cause all I did was sit on the couch. I’d be pissed everyone fell asleep at 8:30 pm. I’d be mad I didn’t just go out with my friends for a drink or 12, but now, in this very moment, these are the nights I smile the most. These are the nights, watching these three beautiful humans sleep, that I will remember as long as I get to be on this earth. These are those small moments I always write about. I will never remember what movie was on, won’t remember if we ate Reese’s Pieces or Runts, or which gross flavor of seltzer water they drank, but I will remember that smile on my face. I will remember sitting alone on the couch as the movie ends and just being completely in awe of all of it. Love isn’t really a strong enough word here, but it’s all I got. Just being completely in love with all of it. Of course, my back will hate me forever for the way I had to sit, but if that’s the price I must pay for nights like that I will always pay that price.
Forever and always the luckiest man around…