Like most children, 4-year-old Kimberly Moore hardly got a wink of sleep last night. But the excited little girl wasn't the first one in her family out of bed this morning heading for the Christmas gifts. Her mother was.
Rene Moore "never could and still can't sleep on Christmas Eve," she says.
"I'm just an overgrown kid," the 28-year-old admits.She can't resist jumping out of bed -- no later than 7 -- and running into Kimberly's room, urging, "Kimmy! Kimmy! Let's go see what Santa Claus brought us!"
Husband Rodney and the family's new addition, a cuddly little package named Jennifer, will follow. Today is 11-month-old Jennifer's first Christmas.
Her sister, although a comparative veteran, asked for two gifts. "A Holly Hobbie Oven and a Muppets' Secret Doll House, that's all I want because I'm going to keep all the rest of my toys, too," says Kimberly, who has filled a closet with her collection of dolls.
Kimberly attends pre-kindergarten at LaSalle Elementary School in Northeast, not far from her parents' quiet, "neighborly" Lamond-Riggs area home, and names as one of her favorite passtimes solving crossword puzzles in the 400-page workbook she got last Christmas.
By 8 a.m., unwrapped gifts will be scattered around the tinsel-draped, angel-topped Christmas tree. Watching Jennifer and Kimberly enjoying their new toys, Rodney and Rene may catch themselves trying to recapture some of the feeling they remember having as youngsters.
One of five children whose father was a "lifer" in the U.S. Army, Rodney says, "Christmas never was a big giving thing when I was growing up; it was more like a fun thing. We had a large family and my parents were just barely making it, so we would all maybe get one present each year -- a toy, a game or a pair of pants.
"But," he recalls, "I always liked Christmas. Christmas times have been some of the best times of my life. My brothers and sisters would get a Monopoly game, get on the floor and really go at it for hours."
Then Rodney turns to his wife and, raising his eyebrows, says, "Rene was spoiled, though; she was the only child, the only granddaughter on her mother's side of the family and the only grandchild on her father's side. She was spoiled rotten."
Breaking up in delighted laughter, Rene recalls her special Christmases: "I did get a great deal of gifts; I was very happy every Christmas." An English teacher at Takoma Park Junior High School in Maryland, Rene says it is "especially exciting" now that she has two daughters to share it with. She became a teacher, she said, because of the joy she gets from working with children.
Rodney, a Memphis native who works in the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency, and Rene, a fourth-generation Washingtonian, met at Elmhurst College near Chicago and moved to the District after graduating in 1973.
The Moores say an effervescent Christmas spirit begins to overcome their family right after Thanksgiving. "That's when Kimmy starts bugging me to put the Christmas lights in the front window," says Rene.
At about mid-December, Kimberly started bugging her mother again -- this time to take her to see Santa Claus at one of the area shopping malls. At one mall, Kimberly not only saw Santa, but she also went shopping by herself at a mini department store, where children can buy gifts without any help from their parents.
Kimberly will give those gifts this evening at the traditional Christmas dinner that serves as an annual reunion of Rene's grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws, and has since Rene's great-grandparents migrated here from Orange, Va., nearly a decade ago.
When the feast is finished and the secret of all the packages revealed, going to sleep tonight will probably be as easy for the Moores as staying awake was for Kimberly last night. The excitement and anticipation over, Rodney, Rene, Kimberly and Jennifer will begin looking forward to next year, when an indomitable Rene will come running across the hall urging, "Kimmy! Jennifer! . . ."