The Year Santa Had Morning Sickness

823 823_ () 823 823 Christmas this year was so enjoyable, even though it’s very challenging for me not to tie in my overall feelings of the days of celebration with how I was feeling during each exact moment (Christmas Eve: great!; Christmas morning: okay, took at nap from 9-11 a.m.; Christmas afternoon: eh; Christmas night until the morning of Dec. 27: on the couch in fetal position).

The celebrations this year were wonderful in part because of the boys’ ages. Mass was very peaceful and enjoyable for us. We always go to the evening vigil, which is slam packed. But this year, we were able to sit and take it all in, no cold sweats from me about who would need to be removed in a puddle of overtired tears.

Almost my entire family was there (seven out of eight children) and we all sat together in two very large pews, mom and dad, siblings and significant others. I’ll post a photo later, but two of my brothers are in a very happening rock band and they do look the part a bit. Sometimes the faux-hawks and large belt buckles turn heads, and I’ve struggled with that in the past. Not with how they look but with a fear that others are judging them. But I’m learning to let go and let God. Their looks don’t bother me, and I can’t worry what other people think. What a relief to admit it! We were all there together, in the presence of Jesus to celebrate his birth. And it was wonderful.

That evening at my mom and dad’s, we opened gifts and had our annual Swenson Family Talent Show. Each year, nearly every person gets up with some kind of offering: sing a song, perform a skit, do a dramatic reading. This year I sat out (on account of see: above) but Ethan and Elliott performed a skit they wrote (pretty funny) and Paul sang a Spanish song he listened to as a boy. It was so lovely and one of the best gifts he gave me, as I kind of had to really ask several times that he do something this year.

My mom had her dog Hallie (a local Best In Show) do some tricks; Summer sang for the first time; Lindi can write with her toes (!!); Josh and Carolyn did a duet (“Who are these people,” asked my dad when the melody emerged and we had no. idea. they could sing and play the guitar and keyboard); Jordan did a few songs on the trumpet, accompanied by my boys; my brothers sang a song they wrote; my nephew read a book; Ethan juggled; Charlie and my brother Josh did a dance called the “Junky Funk.” And, as every year, we ended with a polka written by my dad and played on the accordian. It was wonderful. It was also loud and chaotic and over-the-top fun.

I will admit that Christmas morning was a little challenging, a combination of being exhausted and being very, very tired. And I think those two things made some of my coping skills sub-par.

I know I go on about how great it is to have all these boys so close in age (and of course it is), but there are moments when it can be tricky. Like when almost every gift you bought seems to appeal to someone other than the intended party. It was one of those years (which I know just happens sometimes). The bow-and-arrow for Augie was better “appreciated” by Charlie. The cash box for Charlie was beloved by Elliott and Augie. There were a handful of gifts bought to even out the piles that we could have done without. And one gift Charlie apparently really wanted I didn’t buy because it was a useless piece of plastic that I could easily forsee in the trash within 48 hours. But that was perhaps too pragmatic and mean, and maybe I should have just gotten the darn thing. He kept waiting for it and I felt really sad about not getting it.

Everyone was grateful for his gifts, but like I said, my state-of-mind didn’t lend to being able to roll with the punches. I felt bad that things weren’t Perfect. With a capital P. Whereas in my normal state of mind I would be able to remind myself that Perfect doesn’t even exist.

In the end, the foosball was the real hit and everything else was just extra stuff. Except the real bow-and-arrow given to Elliott (being used by everyone), and the pair of camoflauge pants given to each boy.

“Mom,” asked Charlie on Christmas morning as he tried his pants on, “are these from Santa.”

“Sure,” I said. “Why?”

“Santa doesn’t know my size.”

“I don’t think Santa felt really good this year,” I said, making a mental note to tell Santa that next year? Maybe we should consider going with cash. 823″> .



  1. Your comments about your brothers made me laugh. 🙂 My brother came to the Christmas pageant with us…first time he’s come to a church since my wedding. He was dressed in his finest goth attire, black spike earrings and matching dog collar, grungy clothes…an elderly woman came up and told him to remove his knit hat, which he did, to reveal a greasy black mohawk. He wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, really..he did tone it down. He didn’t wear any facial piercings or make up. 🙂 Sometimes you really do just have to meet people where they are. I don’t know when my brother will set foot in a church again, but if I had told him not to come as himself I guarantee it would have been a very, very long time.

  2. How nice that so many of your family were able to get together for Mass and festivities. I know how hard that must be with eight siblings plus there families. I only have two brothers and this year Mom wanted a professional family picture for her present. I started organizing at the beginning of October but due to jobs and other obligations,there was only one four hour period on one day that we could all make it before Christmas. Thank God, the portrait studio had an opening and could accommodate all thirteen of us at that time.

  3. I went though the similar “Santa didn’t bring my favorite” item also this year. He told us and everyone who has asked so far how his Christmas was. How do you handle it?

  4. Rachel Swenson Balducci says:


    One of the boys noted several times that his brothers had gotten more gifts than him. We just reminded him that the number is not what it’s all about. And with the gift, he mentioned that once or twice, but we redirected his focus to the very awesome things he did get and he hasn’t mentioned it sense. It’s all about teachable (albeit frustrating at times) moments.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I love this blog! I’ve read it before, but wanted to comment today.

    We had a few Christmases where expectations weren’t exactly met, or something we chose just wasn’t right, size or otherwise. Things evolved, and now my kids ask St. Nicholas for one special gift, which they write down on a small note which is placed in their shoes on the night before Dec. 6, and collected by St. Nick when he leaves some candy that night. Other than that gift, St. Nick leaves a few small surprises, which are identical (my children are close in age). Other gifts, especially clothing, are given by mom and dad, which makes wrong size/wrong color exchanges really easy.

    It’s honestly taken a lot of pressure off of me (and off of dear old St. Nicholas, who has enough to do).