Sunday, November 27, 2011

Animated With a Love

It was a magnificent weekend. It was the kind of weekend where you laugh until your sides hurt, revel in the crisp air during a hilly early-morning trail run, listen to little girls play incessantly, find the perfect small things while shopping, have real conversations with well-loved people, and find yourself saying grace around a Thanksgiving table that's full of magically perfect food.

We spent Thursday and Friday up north, where it was warm enough that all the girls could hopscotch their hearts out in the driveway while they burned off their Thanksgiving dinner but cool enough that they warmed themselves around the fire when they came back inside. Watching the four of them together - now swathed in Mimi's scarves, now dancing a polka around the living room, now working on an art project with their blonde heads bowed in concentration - gets me every time.  One our drive home yesterday, Annie lamented that her beloved cousins don't live closer, and I could only agree with her lament.

Jason's grandparents were there this year, too, and though they are not as young as they were when I met them, they still bring a sturdy love with them everywhere they go. They watched the action with smiles on their faces, full of praise and encouragement for us and our lives, full of pride in the "smart, beautiful" little ones who love their custard pie and their Slovak nursery rhymes.

We headed home yesterday, stopping en route to make our traditional pilgrimage to The Corner Bar and Hart's Christmas Tree farm. For the first time we can remember, there wasn't a speck of snow on the ground when we combed the fields for the perfect Frasier Fir. We wandered a bit more this year because of the warmth, and the girls spent all their pent-up energy hopping from tree stump to tree stump and searching for milkweed pods.

Last night, after unpacking the family wagon and dragging the Christmas decorations upstairs and the tree into its stand, we kissed the girls good-bye and went out on the town for a night, first to meet up with my extended family for drinks and then to have sushi with JT, Di, Chris, and Sarah. The six of us took down a huge table of some really beautiful food, and - true to form - Jason ordered something new and absurd, which this time happened to be a roll that came to the table wrapped in foil and lit in fire while we all watched. (It was actually delicious.)

Today was rainy and dreary, and we were all about a fire in the fireplace, hot cocoa, and putting all the decorations on the tree and around the house. Jason took the girls to the pool this afternoon while I did laundry and got groceries for the week, and then our foursome ate dinner in front of the television for our annual viewing of Elf, which is perhaps my very favorite Christmas movie.  Watching Annie and Jemma watch the silly parts is almost as fun for me as watching the movie itself. Almost.

They're in bed now and the fire is dying down. I'm on the couch with the computer, planning the week and making lists, trying to keep track of Christmas gifts and travel plans, and Jason's folding laundry and watching Home Alone. The fridge is full, the clothes are clean, and we're fortified by four full days together. We're feeling (briefly, I'm sure) ready for the holiday season and all the accompanying joy and chaos, appreciative and aware of all the animated life in our life right now.

"We are to be animated with a love which embraces all, of every rank and character. A love, which forgets divisions and outward distinctions, that breaks down the old partition walls and seeks a divine spark in every intelligence. Love which longs to redress the existing inequalities of society, which substitutes generous motives for force, which sees nothing degrading in labor but honors all useful occupation, and which everywhere is conscious of just claims and rights of all. Calling upon the mighty to save, not crush, the weak. And a love, which in a word, recognizes the infinite worth of every human spirit." - William A. Channing

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