Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Stuff, the Encore

I have spit up stains on both my shoulders. I have not left the house for two days. I am wearing sweat pants and I just picked a piece of candy cane out of my hair.

Christmas is in full swing around here. Brent and I have been pulling some late nights hard at work drinking seasonal beers and watching Downton Abbey. Having a baby has forced us to slow things down around here. Christmas will be simple this year, and I am thinking I like it better this way.

Now that Clementine is getting a bit older (almost 8 weeks already!), I've begun to realize that my maternity leave just might be my only opportunity to visit the boys at their schools. I popped in for Sawyer's preschool class's holiday singalong. There he was, front and center, wearing a reindeer hat and singing and dancing his little heart out. It was just as cute as you think it would be.

The next day I braved freezing rain and ridiculous parking to attend Jack's school assembly. He didn't see me there, standing in the back, trying to keep Clementine from howling along to the music. There were Christmas songs in French, a troupe of ukelele playing 4th graders, and then the entire school jumped to their feet and danced the Macarena.

(The entire school except for my kid, who stood awkwardly with his hands in his pockets and looked like he couldn't wait for it to be over. Don't worry, we've been practicing at home. Sawyer's Macarena is coming along nicely, and Jack's isn't half bad. Predictably, mine still sucks. Kate?)

I couldn't help but notice an armed police officer at the assembly. And I guess he was there to make us all feel safer, but it just made me sad. I've been thinking about those kids in Connecticut a lot. It's hard not to. I sent my kid off to school that morning, just like those parents did. I wonder if they hugged them goodbye. Was anyone angry? Feeling rushed and yelling at their kids? Had I been nice to Jack that morning as I helped hustle him out the door? Did I kiss him and tell him I loved him? Before I had kids I could have heard about this kind of tragedy and simply thought, "Those poor people" and gone on about my day. But having kids has changed me and now I can't not walk around with a heavy heart as we all try to understand this horrible thing. What a fucked up world we live in.

But my kid did come home that afternoon and I hugged him and loved him and reminded myself that this is now and will never be again. Now is, really, all we have.


We humans are a resilient bunch, which is a good thing since we do such atrocious things to one another. I think, though, that I don't want to "get over" this tragedy. I think I want to carry it with me, in a dark corner of my heart like a secret, so that I remember to hug them as they walk out the door each morning. So that I take their hands when we cross the street even when they are old enough to do it on their own. So that I hug and kiss them. So that I always remember to love them.

Jack is in charge of his own presents this year. He made a pair of pink flannel pants for Clementine, but a gift for Sawyer was proving to be more of a challenge. I was trying to help him by asking what he thought Sawyer was into. "Well, he likes Legos. He likes candy." I told him that I didn't think he could afford Legos and reminded him that we'd be making peppermint bark. "I know! He loves One Direction! Let's get him a One Direction CD!" And of course you know that this is the PERFECT gift for my little pop music junkie and just leave it to his big brother to figure it out. I knew Brent could absolutely not tolerate an entire CD of One Direction and so I convinced Jack to make Sawyer a mix of his favorite top 40 hits. It's going to be gawd awful, but Sawyer will LOVE it.

Santa stopped by our house and terrified the children. It was really, really, REALLY hard to keep a straight face for this.


We had another visitor this week... Amberlee! I was excited enough to stay up past my bedtime to surprise her at the airport. Then Clementine was excited enough to wake up in the middle of the night and demand to meet her. Babies sense important people.

This slower paced and simplified Christmas has given us more time to just be with our friends.

Friends who know the perfect gift to bring from Washington DC (yes, that is a Lego White House!). Friends who will gladly make you your first (and possibly only) Irish coffee of the season. Friends who are really more family than friends.

They say that the greatest gift we can give to our children is our time. I think the same can be said of our friends.


So Merry Christmas, friends. Let's have an Irish coffee together. Or brush up on our Macarenas. I will even change out of my sweatpants just for you. Please tell me if I have food stuck in my hair.

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