We travelled for 3 hours on Christmas eve - the Christmas presents filling the van behind them, inadvertently taunting them but they didn't try to touch them or peak. We had the 2 boys sit side by side the entire 3 hour trip. They were quiet and cooperative the ENTIRE trip and not once did anyone ask "are we there yet?". Let me just reiterate the momentousness of the occasion - there was no hitting, punching or fighting of any kind. We never had to threaten to pull over - not even once.
We stayed up late and oldest son tried and finished all the food on his plate, including things he has refused to eat the past 8 Christmas' and he brought tears to his Grandmothers eyes when he asked for more. When it was time for bed no one cried or argued or complained and promptly fell asleep.They slept all night and until reasonable hour. Everyone was excited for and happy with their presents. They said thank you and properly showed their appreciation. They waited their turns patiently and made small sacrifices when it would benefit others. They revelled in each others gifts but didn't try to take anything that wasn't theirs and no one broke anything.
Then we travelled another hour to my brothers new house that was filled to the rafters with people. My boys played with their cousins and their cousins cousins ranging in age from 3 to 13 for over 6 hours. There were no fights, no occasion where I or my husband needed to intervene. In fact, there were times where husband and I were actually in the same room together, catching up with family and friends and our boys were 2 floors away. There was a small moment when oldest son became distressed, stuck on something that was just not possible in that moment. But he was self aware enough to leave the group of kids and come find me. We dealt with it privately and he listened to AND followed my advice. The whole incident lasted about 5 minutes from beginning to end.
When it was finally time to leave I informed them they had 5 more minutes as has been our pattern for the last 8 years. Before the 5 minutes was up they were both by the door, giving hugs to everyone and getting ready to leave. They were silent on the ride home and at bedtime gave no issue for the second night in a row.
If I was dreaming it all - please don't wake me up. It's far away from 2hour meltdowns, out of control and aggressive behaviour that marked all previous Christmas' a any get together of any kind. It is far from the isolation we experienced in previous years. It felt amazing and we are so happy to have experienced it. As little as three months ago we questioned if we would even be able to keep our family together. Now we are having a Christmas I hadn't even dared to believe would ever be possible and we are basking in every moment of it.