Merry Christmas!

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It’s a sunny, mild, Spring-like day here in the Northeast and a very happy Christmas. What a joy it was to see our sweet girl unwrap her new dollhouse!

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Here she is, busy and content.

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And these are the mugs Chris and I got each other for Christmas, which suit us to a T. The perfect mugs to toast this good life.

Merry Christmas, dear friends! May your hearts and bellies be full, and may love surround you.

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Santa Claus

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Christmas Eve. 9:00 p.m. We’re home and we’ve just finished the wrapping and the kitty threatens to dismantle our work and it’s all happiness. Isabella has already received heaps of gifts from three sets of doting grandparents. There’s nothing like grandparent love. This is a picture from today with her sweet cousins just before Santa arrived. My father-in-law has an elaborate Santa costume and he looked as if he’d just flown in from the North Pole. She jumped up and down when she spotted him from the window as he rounded the house. During the hubbub and picture-taking, I noticed her studying him closely before she turned to me and said, “Mommy, Papa’s so silly, he’s Santa Claus!” It made us all laugh, this perfect moment of recognition. It didn’t dispel the magic. In fact, it enhanced it. Santa wasn’t a stranger, but someone who loves her, someone she feels safe and comfortable with. And there we were, all of us playing this wonderful game of pretend. For my little one, nothing could’ve been more magical than that.

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Changes and Traditions

These last couple of months leading up to age three are all rapid change and growth. Increased vocabulary and refined pronunciation. Heightened awareness and comprehension. Assertiveness, a strong will. There’s a lot more resistance, a lot more “no!” She will hold up her hand and say, “No, mommy, leave me be!”

She still has an ethereal essence, a sweet and gentle soul. It shines through her big brown eyes even during crabby moments. But a fierce will is emerging, and though it sometimes wears me out, I’m glad for it. I want her to claim her space, raise her voice, stand her ground. She is an incredible combination of peace and strength and silliness, teaching me all the time.

If you ask her what she wants for Christmas, she will answer, “A present!” There is no material good she longs for, except perhaps another book to add to her collection. She is still blissfully unaware of our consumer-driven culture. I know it won’t be long before this changes, and I’ve been thinking of little traditions that focus on what truly matters. I love the tradition of decorating a tree in the yard with edible ornaments for the animals, detailed over at Wilder Child. It’s a simple craft project, an experience, and an act of giving. It turns our attention to the creatures we share space with and instills a sense of responsibility to wildlife. And it looks so lovely, the cranberry strands and orange cups of birdseed hanging from the tree. We’ve been reading Jan Brett’s The Mitten every night and thinking about all the creatures in our backyard.

If I had any talent for sewing, I’d quilt an Advent calendar. My favorites are the fabric ones with pockets for little felted ornaments and candy canes. This year we have a beautiful paper one from my sister. Perhaps next year I’ll craft one from fabric…

How are your little ones changing? How do you celebrate the season?

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Revising Christmas

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“When we pay attention to who we believe we are and we surround ourselves with the things that reflect that story, with all its urges, aspirations, and processes, we develop a perspective that’s uniquely ours to share. In turn, we can share that unique perspective and, acting from a place of greater wholeness and awareness, thus become better and more useful members of our community.” In Honor of Saint Sunrise Day by Khristopher Flack (illustration by Katie Hickey) is an essay in Issue 20::SHARE, reminding us of the calendar and the pace at which we live, especially during the holidays. @katiehickeyillustration #taprootmagazine

Photo Credit: Katie Hickey

This lovely artwork and quote popped up in my Instagram feed tonight and reminded me I need to order a subscription to Taproot Magazine. “When we pay attention to who we believe we really are…” That’s what this project has been, an act of paying attention to who I believe myself to be, inside this moment in time, this specific era of my life. I like Flack’s conclusion, that this practice allows us to share our “unique perspective and, acting from a place of greater wholeness and awareness, thus become better and more useful members of our community.” I’d like to read the entire essay, especially because it speaks to the pace of our lives around the holidays. The holiday dread is already creeping in. Don’t get me wrong–I’m no bah humbug. The Christmas tree lights are twinkling, the stockings are hung, and tonight I fashioned a boxwood wreath in front of the mirror with a beautiful scrap of red and white fabric. It feels peaceful and bright. We sing carols at night before bed. And I can’t wait to see my daughter’s smile when she unwraps her dollhouse this year. It’s the racing around, the shopping overload, the many many many events. I’m trying to think of ways to make this year feel less hectic and more relaxing. Perhaps, instead of stretching ourselves thin, we need to stretch the holiday out.

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Shake It Out

Last night I was awake with insomnia, worrying about my husband’s flight, which kept getting delayed and delayed. This morning he sent photos of Big Ben against a clear blue sky, and suddenly I felt so confined in the house and wished I could hop the next flight and chase him there, walk to the Tower Bridge arm-in-arm with newspaper cones of fish ‘n chips, have high tea at Harrods, spread clotted cream on scones, shop Portobello Market, cozy up in a pub with a pint, stroll through the pigeons at Trafalgar Square and up the steps of the National Gallery and see all those glowing Turners again.

Before he left, he stacked newspaper and kindling and logs in the fireplace, so that I’d have only to light a match to get a nice fire going.

I try not to worry about the news, but I worry about the news.

My daughter’s favorite book right now is a book of Christmas carols illustrated by Tomie dePaola. Every afternoon before nap and every evening before bed, we sing our way from “Deck the Halls” to “Away in a Manger.” It’s a happy practice, uplifting. It occurred to me I haven’t been playing enough music throughout the day. We should be singing and dancing every day. Shaking it out.

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