Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas Captures and Confessions

I have always had an affinity for the 31 days of December.  That fancy goes beyond pretty packages, sweet sounding carols and vacations.  It's a month that invites joy and celebration.  Invitations I rarely decline.  Along with joy comes sorrow...at least for me.  When I feel happiest, sadness creeps in to deliver the blow that this too shall pass.  Melancholy is as much the thief of joy as comparison.
  I was a Christmas loving, Santa Claus worshiping kid like none other, but the holidays often served as reminder of who and what was missing (the displaced relative, the divorced parent, the perfect, intact family).  Christmas Eve was my mom's night, and at the very end of it, it would become her dad's.  He passed long before I was born, tragically and suddenly. It bothered me the way she would sit beside the tree listening to crooners choking back tears at the end of the festive night.  Every year she'd explain that she just needed a little time with her dad.  I couldn't sleep while worrying about her communicating with ghosts.  Today I get her need to sit with the memory of her father who died shortly after her 19th Christmas, and I also know how alive ghosts can feel.  Every Christmas Day I would worry about my mom home alone as I celebrated with my dad and his big  family.  She made light of it and even shrugged off her solitude.  Her last Christmas, she was finally invited to share in the celebration, but she didn't make it because of the selfishness of others including myself.  Guilt shows up around the holidays too.  Timing is everything.

Lightness is achieved when I stay in the present moment rather than those lost or looming.  I remind myself over and over to be. here. now.  Because here is a pretty sweet spot.

1. Fred comes with St. Nick and leaves with Santa.  While he's visiting, he is sure to deliver laughs and small gifts and, hopefully, warm memories too.

2. Teddy wrapped the last gift of Christmas on Christmas Eve under master wrapper Mike's watchful eye.  All the while I'm vacillating between how cute it is and how necessary it is because all too soon he'll be out on his own.  He needs to know how to do all manner of things many of which he has yet to attempt let alone master.   

3.  The cats love when the gifts are unwrapped and they can play in the boxes and with the bows.

4. After a family dinner out on the Eve eve, the kids burned off their wings and curds by racing through the snowless city streets...

5.  and under the light of an almost full moon.  A full moon on Christmas Day strikes me as something quite special.

6.  The winter solstice is tinged with an air of  heavy holiness too. It's one of those days that leaves me feeling wistful and exposed.

7.  Tigger caught sampling Santa's cookies.

8.  Peanut caught digging under the tree.

9.  Fred rode back to the North Pole on Santa's Harley.  He's got a sense of humor that elf.

I was going to work Christmas Eve day and then I wasn't.  I hemmed and hawed, and then ultimately decided that my heart was more on board to spend the day with my family than at work.  Never mind that I ended up making last minute purchases at the last place I wanted to be: the mall. We arrived in church early enough to claim our seats in time for the concert and two extras for my brother and sister-in-law.  Lily even acknowledged that our awesome time management made for a stress free send off.  This is not always the case on holidays, but it should be.  The night's celebration was in limbo for awhile, but my brother and sil saved it.  We went old school just the six of us celebrating together and it was a great night of stew, spirits, crackers, games and gifts.

1. On the steps of Old St. Mary.

2. The church was candle-lit and decorated with red roses and a bounty of poinsettia.  Coming in on Christmas Eve to see the manger set up and surrounded by twinkling lights, always takes my breath away.

3. Our annual lights tour took a turn up Wisconsin Avenue which was lit up in sparkling blue and white.

4. We four.

5.  My two.

6.  Uncle Brad made such a big, grateful deal out of the golf ball finder glasses Lily picked out for him that rather resembled Blue Blockers.  It made her feel extra proud.

7.  Ted and Aunt Ashley posed for a photo of their own.

8.  What's not to love about boys in pink crowns?  Ted insisted on "dressing" for the Eve.  Of his own accord, he put on a coat and tie and looked handsome.

9.  Or girls plating up cookies and milk for Santa?

Morning came early and went too fast.  Mike and I nearly fell asleep in front of the tree waiting for Ted to shower before bed on Christmas Eve.  That boy and his penchant for cleanliness.  I love our family time Christmas morning best of all because it is cozy and quiet and all ours.

1.  Santa delivered new sleds, but still no snow.

2.  Lily and I modeled our new scarves both gifts from Teddy.  He went back to get me the one I'm wearing after I admired it when we were shopping together.  He had already gotten me something else, and I just found that an extra sweet gesture.

3.  A Kate Spade clutch...from tween to teen in minutes.  

4.  Mitten model too.

5.  Holding their Nanny ornaments and melting my heart.

6.  Ted is stoked for new fleece layers for skiing (if we ever get snow).

7.  And if not, no worries because Peanut will sleep or lounge on the sleds.

8.  The guys.

9.  The other guys.

As we drove to my dad's for brunch on Christmas day, it started to snow ever so softly.  It set the scene for another warm and festive celebration.

1-10 Hi, my name is Lily and I got a selfie stick for Christmas.

Saturday we celebrated our third Christmas in as many days at my in-laws and when that was't enough family time, we invited everyone over for Teddy's 15th birthday celebration Sunday.  We just ordered pizzas and I made a salad since we still don't have a fully functional kitchen.  The gang watched football and jammed and had another good time.  I'm adjusting to the fact that the holidays are over and I now have a 15 year old.

1-9 Family doing what family does best...smiling, playing, loving.