Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas and Birthday, Recapped

Now that Christmas, Jemma's birthday, and all the assorted celebrations seem like the distant past, I'm loathe to do a holiday recap but know I'll regret it later if I don't. So.

Christmas Eve: For the first time in my life, I did not gather with my mom's side of the family for an evening of appetizers and plates and plates of little sugared treats. In the spirit of less is more and quality over quantity that we tried to embrace this holiday season, we made Christmas Eve about our own little family of four instead. We went to church at 5:00 p.m. for the family service (in years previous, we have never, ever attended church on Christmas Eve or on Christmas because of various family obligations) and it felt sweet and right to be singing O Holy Night on that very special night.

On our way home, we took time to drive up and down the streets in our area that deck out the curbs with luminaries every Christmas Eve. At home, we began a new tradition of Christmas Eve fondue dinner by candlelight. We had sparkling grape juice for the girls, and while we took turns spearing tart green apples and sourdough bread cubes to dip in the hot cheese, we also took turns toasting each other, our not-present family members, and our favorite places and things and events of the year. I may have cried a little.

Cookies and milk set out for Santa and girls tucked in beds, Jason and I filled stockings and talked about where we'd been and what we'd done for the last fifteen Christmasses we've been together, then went to sleep knowing the house was fully prepped for a morning of chaos and cheer.

Christmas Day:  I've written before about how all our Christmas mornings (and seasons) are bound to blend together in my mind, so every year I try to single out a few memorable details. This was the Christmas, then, when

  • the green grass predominated over snow, much to the girls' dismay.
  • the girls and I led Jason on a scavenger hunt to find his new skis.
  • the furnace quit at some point during our present-opening frenzy and we spent lunch squeezed together at a little table we'd pulled to stand in front of the fireplace and spent the night with space heaters and air mattresses until the repairman could come the next morning, when the majority of the house was 53 degrees.
  • Santa brought Annie an iPod touch (onto which she immediately loaded an awesome-in-its-randomness mix of The Beatles, Toto, Justin Bieber, Abba, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, and Brandi Carlile) and Jemma a pink Razor scooter which she scooted up and down the hallway.
  • we spent the afternoon with my family at my parents' house opening presents, playing fun games, and eating dinner with my grandparents.
  • I snuck in a run around the lake with a friend and Jason got out on his bike on Christmas Eve in the sunshine.
  • Annie and I made marshmallows for the first time together and Jemma destroyed the kitchen rolling them in powdered sugar.
Two days later, Jemma turned five. Five. Five is huge, big-kid, momentous (for me) and I can literally not believe she's five years old. We woke her up with balloons and YET MORE presents, celebrated with a Sugarplum Fairy dance party with eight of her friends in the afternoon, and had Smitten Kitchen double chocolate layer cake, homemade macaroni and cheese, and raspberries for dinner. We measured her, and sure enough, she's half an inch taller than she was just six months ago.

We've filled the holiday break with a trip up north, ice-skating downtown after dinner out, a million art projects, a night of cozy fun with friends and neighbors, a couple hours of burning energy at the gymnastics place, swimming at the pool, hours of Lego-building, an epic trip to the library, playing checkers and tic-tac-toe on the iPad, a lot of television and a lot of bickering. Just now, I'm hunkered in a coffee shop, post-yoga, trying to snatch a few minutes of quiet before I take the girls roller-skating this afternoon. I'm trying to gather my thoughts about this year that's almost over, figure out what 2012 is going to be about for me and for our family, and capture the texture of this exact time in our life. 

Birthday letter to Jemma and bunches of Christmas photos to come, but for now I'm just sweaty, tired, a little hungover, and trying my best to get the details of the last week down before they're gone.

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