We’re close. Can you feel it? One week. And, of course, two weeks. I’ve always loved how Christmas Day and New Years Day are exactly a week a part. When I was young it spoke to the part of me that loves things neat and orderly and perfectly arranged. Still does.
We’ve started to feel the holiday fatigue here a bit. This morning my girl dragged herself down the stairs and bee lined for me, as much as one can beeline while moving at a glacial pace. She wrapped her arms around me and stood there and I couldn’t quite tell if she just needed cuddles or if she was using me to prop her up. Probably a bit of both. We made our way to the couch where we snuggled for a bit and I felt her forehead and tried to dig deeper into what might be bothering her. As I stroked her hair she glanced around and saw our elf sitting on a shelf (yeah I know, so original) and her voice lifted just a bit to say, “I found Charlie” an almost undetectable smile slightly pulling up the corners of her mouth. “You want to go take a look?” I asked, hoping that Charlie would, as he often does, help bring a little sparkle back. “No,” she replied, “I can see him from here.”
It’s been one of the best holiday seasons I can remember. Most years, as the calendar flips to December and then time, predictably, begins to switch into warp speed mode, I vow that next year, next year I’ll really get a handle on this and I’ll plan ahead and I won’t stare longingly at the perfect gift that will never be engraved and delivered in time because I’ll have clicked and shipped back when anything was possible. And then the next year arrives and I’m once again behind, feeling the pressure to rush and do all the things and make all the things. But this year, I really did it. I got it together and I planned and I filled our advent calendar with little activities to do almost everyday and thanks to that, we made a gingerbread house as a family for the first time. We’ve had hot cocoa and baked cookies and gone to see holiday lights. And I haven’t felt rushed or as overwhelmed as I usually feel and it’s been the kind of magical I always hope it will be. (I have, however, stared longingly at the perfect gift lamenting that it will never be engraved and delivered in time which, at this point, seems to be a keystone holiday tradition for me).
There’s been a certain peace this year, for me at least, in our holiday season. When 2014 dawned, I chose ‘calm’ as my word for the year and I’ve accomplished it to varying degrees of success. But now, when I’d least expect to feel anything close to calm, here it is. I’m counting that as success.
Thanks to that calm, I’ve been able to enjoy this time with its magic that won’t last forever. I’ve been able to take the unique sparkle in her eyes and fold it into my heart, there to be called up years from now when I’m longing for today. On Saturday when I hit a low point in my holiday spirit, she begged to listen to Christmas songs on our way to go ice skating and thanks to that calm I was able to breathe and say yes and be swept away on jingle bells. And this morning, when we lifted her spirits by slipping a perfectly fancy, perfectly pouffy, perfectly festive dress over her head before she went off to school, I was able to think back to my own childhood and my own festive dresses and remember that this is it for her. These are the moments she’ll look back on someday as she creates magic for her own little girl. Thanks to that calm, I’ve been able to remember that what I do today matters so much for her.
Next week brings it’s own different buzz of excitement. Holiday break will start, we’ll party at the North Pole, and then we’ll be almost there. Our advent calendar almost completely transformed into a winter scene, gifts beginning to accumulate under the tree. The mood always shifts when you can count the number of remaining days on one hand. Christmas Eve will arrive and I’ll hum the Christmas song to myself as I wait the requisite hour or more for her to fall asleep. Little tots with their eyes all aglow… I have no doubt she’ll rally and Christmas morning will find her bounding down the steps once more, barely sparing a moment to blow a kiss to me on her way.
Until then, we’ll do what we all want to do this time of year. Take it easy and relax and be together. And search for that elf from the comfort of the couch.