Skip to main content

These are the moments we'll remember, Christmas edition

A week has passed since my last post, and I'm pleased to say, I've got my holiday mojo back. How can I not be bubbling over with Christmas cheer, with a 3-and-a-half-year-old running around the house singing Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and We "Miss" You a Merry Christmas? Christmas with a child is like nothing I'd ever imagined -- as is everything, really. The world just looks better when you look through your child's eyes, period. (And let me tell you, I am squeezing my son even tighter this week.)

There's a great little commentary piece in this week's Time magazine -- which happens to be the Person of the Year issue, and one of my favorite reads every year -- about the importance of traditions, old and new. The word tradition typically means rites or rituals that families carry out year after year for generations. Traditions are anchors -- they keep us grounded and fill our memory banks. But sometimes traditions get stale -- or worse, we feel sad when we cannot carry them out. I learned this years ago when my mom died and our family changed rapidly -- sometimes holding on to old traditions is more painful than positive. I'm a firm believer in knowing when to let go of a tradition, and when to start a new one.

Of course this is a prime-time tradition-starting year for me and my family. We have a little guy who's just starting to understand Christmas and Baby Jesus and Santa and all the things that December holds. I carry many traditions from childhood, and so does Big Daddy, and I like to think we've melded them rather nicely into our own home -- and we've started some really great new traditions (not the least of which is the annual tree-and-Pizza-Hut evening!). In the last couple years, especially, thanks to Sweet Boy, Big Daddy, and my dear friends, I've discovered some new traditions that I hope to carry forward:

1) Baking cookies -- You've never experienced kitchen fun until you've given a 3-year-old a hand mixer and said "Hold on tight!" then watched the flour fly. This past month we've measured and dumped, we've gasped, we've giggled, we've mixed 'til our arms ached -- and we've "tested" a lot of dough. And Sweet Boy has been especially proud to give away the treats we baked to teachers and neighbors and friends and relatives. (We even baked a special batch of oatmeal cookies for Aunt Kathie and a special batch of chocolate chip cookies for Big Daddy for Christmas morning.)

The past few years I've gotten together with my two best girlfriends, too -- my sister-friends, whom I've known now for 2/3 of my life. We devote an entire Saturday each December to baking cookies...and drinking wine. Again, we measure, we giggle, we mix til our arms ache, and we drink til our heads ache. We come away with some yummy cookies, but even better, we come away with the love and support that gets us through the blech parts of the season.

2) Decorating the tree...for a week -- Little boys have little attention spans. So decorating an entire tree and home in one evening doesn't go so well. Instead of getting frustrated this year, though, we embraced this short attention span thing and stretched out the tree trimming over the course of a week. It happened by accident, really, but we had such a fun time adding ornaments to the tree each evening that I think we'll do this every year.

3) Creating an advent wreath -- When I was a kid, we had a lovely advent wreath. It was a wooden circle with a mirrored base, and I've been searching for something similar for years. However, this year a friend gave me a great idea: Make a wreath with found treasures and natural elements. How perfect! Sweet Boy and I went treasure hunting in the woods behind our house and collected pine boughs, holly branches, pine cones, dried hydrangea, and "monster's fur" (aka, pine needles), and we arranged it on a tray in the center of our dining table. We've lit a candle at dinner time each Sunday, and we will light the Christ candle Christmas Eve (while we eat our first annual homemade Christmas Eve stromboli!). Every week, as I sat at the table with my boys, I have felt the same calm that I remember feeling as a child when we lit each candle. In the midst of such a hectic season, the candles bring me back to center.

4) Power shopping with a friend -- I am not really a mall person. I don't really like to shop, especially as Christmas day gets closer and the stores and roads get harrier. But there are two shopping days that I really enjoy: Black Friday with my sister in law, when we hit the Cherry Hill Mall in the afternoon, after all the crazies have gone home to nap; and the evening I go with my friend CT a week or so before Christmas. Hitting the mall with a friend makes the crowds seem less grouchy, the stress level slightly lower, and the deals somehow even better.

5) Building a gingerbread house -- A friend gave me a gingerbread house kit last week, and Sweet Boy and I had a blast assembling and decorating it. I've never seen him get so excited about a crafty type thing, and I've never seen him work with such concentration and diligence. And he's so proud of his house! (Truth be told, I'm really proud of it too...I'm no great crafter, but this turned out not bad at all for our first attempt!)

6) Enjoying a date day -- Big Daddy and I took vacation time for the next two weeks. Can you believe it? Two full weeks together? We haven't had this much time together, I'm thinking, since our honeymoon in May 2000 -- and we will surely drive each other bonkers before January 5th rolls around. But we decided to start it out right by devoting the entire first day to one another: We dropped Sweet Boy off at school at 8:30 this morning, then went to breakfast, finished our shopping, caught a movie, did a little more shopping, then relaxed at a coffee shop until it was time to pick up the boy. It was one of the best days we've had together, ever. (So good, in fact, that we're planning another date day next Monday, too!)

Traditions -- sharing old, creating new -- are the best part of Christmas. These are the moments we will remember forever, and tonight, as I gear up for the mania that will overtake us these next few days (wrapping gifts, last-minute errands, cooking, loading everything into the car for trips to Philadelphia and New Jersey, chasing a rambunctious, sugar-loaded child around relatives' homes), I'm happy. I'm really happy, in fact, and I'm storing away all these good little Christmasy moments in my heart.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Grace happens

Today Honey's roommate in room 364 at Maine Medical Center was discharged. Some other day I'll tell you about why Honey is in the hospital again, but this story is about the roommate because it's way more interesting. Let's call him Elton, because all I really know about him is he plays guitar in an Elton John tribute band and he's originally from the very northern part of England, bordering Scotland. (Or as Honey described it, "that place in England where the Roman Empire decided, nope, those Celts are crazy, and put up a wall.")

Elton was in room 364 before Honey arrived, and what struck me immediately, besides his delightful accent and soothing Liam-Neeson-esque voice, was his gentle, good-natured manner. He was going through heck from a botched surgery and compartment syndrome - pain and gore and fear of losing the use of his dominant hand - yet he spoke kindly and softly to every person who came into his room. Every time a nurse walked in, Elton gree…

Boardwalk ghosts

“Imagine this, buddy, in the middle of summer, especially near the Fourth of July. Wall to wall people, just sort of moving in and out of each other. Flashing lights. Loud music. Screams from Morey’s Pier, laughter on the swirly rides. Oh...and the food...ice cream, funnel cake, fudge, cheese steaks, pizza, fries...the smells alone would drive you nuts!” 
It’s 5:00 on the evening before his Nana’s funeral, and we’re standing in a windy drizzle on an empty Wildwood boardwalk. My mind has flashed back to the summer of 1991, when I spent a week here with my best friend. Wicked sunburn. Tandem bike adventures. Water slides. Thrill rides. A ground-shaking thunderstorm. Friendship bracelets. College guys taking showers outside. Ice cream and VCR movies every night.

Back in the here-and-now I’m trying to explain to Zippy what this place is like when it’s not October. He’s been to Rehoboth and Ocean City and Old Orchard Beach, but none of those come anywhere close to Wildwood in peak season.…

#WhyIMarch

Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.
"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."
&…