Monday, December 24, 2012

Good Things, Christmas Eve 2012

Right now: I'm sitting on the couch in front of our Christmas tree for possibly the last night this year. I'm sipping a little Baileys Irish Cream. I'm ticking off a list of things to pack in my suitcase. I'm trying to remember where the extra camera battery is. I'm trying to stop, breathe, savor.

Earlier tonight, we did a few traditional things (went to church, drove around to look at the luminaries, had a fancy family fondue dinner, gave toasts to all the good people and places that have been a part of the past year, read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, set out cookies and milk for Santa) and a few non-traditional things that might become new traditions (handed out candy canes and Starbucks gift cards and filled parking meters for strangers to practice random acts of kindness, went in the hot tub after the kids were in bed). We tucked in little girls who just can't wait for tomorrow morning, and I, for one, can hardly believe that tomorrow morning will be Christmas. Every year, in the rush to make another batch of cookies and send the stack of cards and buy one last gift, I forget that the 25th is really, truly going to come. I'm never sure if the rushing around is worth it, exactly, but tonight - when the rushing is over, when we have sung "Silent Night," when the gifts are placed with love beneath the tree, when the girls are snug in bed with new pink penguin flannel sheets, when the joy of tomorrow morning looms sure - is one of my favorite of the year. In spite of the rushing and the imperfection, Christmas morning comes every year, and with it the wonder and gratitude for another morning with my family, another moment to bank with the other good memories of the year.

Good things, this holiday season:

Celebrating Jemma's 6th birthday with a treat at school.

Annie, mid-laugh, at her classroom holiday party.

Chopping down the Christmas tree.

Favorite homemade ornaments.

Watching "Elf" with a fire in the fireplace.

Pumpkin bread.

That someone decorated this bench on my running route.

Snowy Saturday mornings in the hot tub.

Homemade peanut butter cups.

Making gingerbread cookies (and the kitchen looking like this!).

My favorite hands.

The KitchenAid mixer allllmooost not coping with the double batch of shortbread cookie dough.

Getting fresh kielbasa at Frank's for my family Christmas brunch.

A fun Friday night at the ultra-decorated Broadway Bar! . . .

 . . . with 3D glasses, followed by a horse-drawn carriage ride!
Looking pensive and pretty at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Christmas Eve fondue.

Annie's toast to Candy Cane before she heads back to the North Pole for good: "Tell Santa we're not perfect, but we try our best, and safe travels to you!"

Setting out milk and cookies for Santa.

Taking turns reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

My view, right now.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Stats

Number of times I've pre-heated the oven, forgetting that, with our limited pantry space, we're storing Christmas cookies in there so the kittens won't eat them: 4.

Number of plastic items I have melted in this way: 2.

Number of hours I wandered the house today, still in pajamas, covered in glitter, attempting to Wrap All The Presents: 3.

Number of cups of coffee I drank during this process: 3, large.

Number of shortbread cookies I ate during this process: 4.

Number of days this week my presence has been required at school for some type of holiday sing, party, birthday treat, or other volunteer activity: 4.

Number of days we have forgotten to "do" the Advent calendar: pretty much all.

Number of nights I cooked dinner this week: 1.

Number of kegs of beer my brother-in-law is bringing up north for Christmas: 1 (coconut porter - yay!).

Number of days until my five-year-old turns six: 7.

Number of minutes per day the cats attempt to attack the Christmas tree: 5.

Number of times I have driven to Target this month and realized when I got there that I hadn't brought my wallet: 1.

Number of trips to Target this week: 2.

Number of times I left my yoga mat at the studio after class: 1.

Number of times I went to the grocery store on Monday: 3.

Number of Rice Krispie snowmen with licorice scarves Jemma and I made on Monday: 24.

Number of leftover Twizzlers Pull-N-Peels I ate in a two-hour period on Tuesday, frantically trying to finish writing copy on deadline: the rest of the package.

Number of mornings ahead for sitting with coffee in front of the Christmas tree: 5.

Number of my girls holding construction paper candles in a crowded gym, singing about being the lights of the world: 2.

Number of me crying in the stands: 1.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Read Elsewhere: Three Poems by Wendell Berry

"The seed is in the ground.
Now may we rest in hope
While darkness does its work."


"No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away."


"Finally will it not be enough,
after much living, after
much love, after much dying
of those you have loved,
to sit on the porch near sundown
with your eyes simply open,
watching the wind shape the clouds
into the shapes of clouds?

Even then you will remember
the history of love, shaped
in the shapes of flesh, ever-changing
as the clouds that pass, the blessed
yearning of body for body,
unending light.
You will remember, watching
the clouds, the future of love."

From A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry