During the holidays, I had to get up every day at 5:45 a.m. because of the dog.
If I am at my parents' house, the dog jumps on my bed every morning at 5:45 a.m., and if I do not get up within a few minutes, he will start barking and wake everyone else up.
When only my mother and father are at home, he does not do this. He will wait in my parents' room until 6:30 a.m., and only at 6:30 a.m. will he become restless and start making noises. However, when I am at home, he expects me to rise at 5:45 a.m. and to take him to the nearest park and to run with him and to play fetch-ball with him.
Josh joined me in these early-morning adventures every morning except for two days, when he chose to sleep in, and my middle brother joined me (and Josh) every other morning. Of course, it really is sort of fun playing with the dog early in the morning, and the early-morning cold has never bothered me (it must be all that Norwegian blood in me). And since I get up at 5:00 a.m. on weekday work mornings anyway, rising at 5:45 a.m. was not a burden--it was almost a luxury!
The best part about getting up so early was that my brother and Josh and I would have first crack at my nephew every morning.
Once we returned from the park, we would give the dog his breakfast, and then we would go upstairs and retrieve my nephew (who would always be awake and standing in his crib, waiting) and bring him downstairs. We would get him all fixed up--change his diapers, and give him his cereal and orange juice and bananas and pears and such--and then we would play with him until my Dad came downstairs.
At this point, we would turn my nephew over to my Dad's care, and we would go upstairs and get cleaned up for the day.
When we came back downstairs, we would get breakfast for everyone, saving my mother from having to worry about the first meal of the day.
And all of us helped my mother immensely throughout the holiday period. She did not have to do any cleaning, and she did not have to do any laundry, and she did not have to wash a single dish or pot or pan or piece of tableware the entire holiday.
We even helped her cook, to the extent that she would allow our assistance. We were able to wash and trim and cut and tear vegetables for her, peel potatoes, stir things, dice things, shred things, and lift things for her (like the Christmas goose).
We would measure things out for her, and get things lined up for her to use as she worked, and clear things away for her, and do all sorts of other things. Sometimes, she would even allow us to do some of the more complicated cooking, under her direction. If she saw things about to go awry, or during particularly tricky moments, she would gently step in and safely guide the ship into port herself.
She had a lot of fun, and we had a lot of fun, and everyone got to eat stunning food every day.
What more could we have asked for?