I can get wistful pangs for the way things “should” be, like there’s some future foggy date when everything will finally click. The curtain will raise and I’ll be ready and every little thing will be done exactly right: a flawless performance, worthy of so many filtered phone pictures. But this is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.
My oldest, fifteen this month, reminds me all the time that she’s just a few years from being an adult. She says it with the same mindboggling disbelief that have when I think about it, and we both shake our heads: How in the world? And now her childhood memories are like a shoebox full of special rocks, tucked away but fondly saved. It would be too late to start that kind of collection now. My kids are building their stories whether or not the things we do look the way I imagined them. This is it.
And so I can’t measure up traditions to my ideals or my own experiences. If I focused on what I wish we could do, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy what we have. Christmas when I was little involved a houseful of cousins and Grandma’s special Santa mugs. My kids don’t have cousins of the holiday-sharing variety. My kids don’t have a Grandma who paints their name on a special mug. We do holidays like we do most days: simple and intentional and small. And my kids freaking love it. They aren’t missing anything. (I am probably the one who missed out.) They have things I never had: homemade cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning, the experience of going to the same farm every year to find and cut a tree, advent calendars, delicate tissue paper snowflakes taped up in the windows.
We had a wonderful Christmas.
I am overwhelmed a lot during the holiday season. I get bogged down by the burden of being the chief magicmaker in the family. I can’t phone it in. I can’t hitch a ride on some extended family rituals. And that can feel like a lot of pressure! I worry about fumbling the ball and gifting my children time-release Resentment. I want them to look back on these days and feel as fond of them as I do now, as we live them.
We have swept up fir needles and ripped down paper chains. We welcomed the New Year with dear friends. I am relieved to have reached the sloggy lull of January. We ended 2013 on a very high note: on the morning of the thirty-first, Uly’s cardiologist told us he won’t need another check-up appointment for a WHOLE YEAR! (apologies for repeating what I’ve already shared on instagram.) Onward!
While I’ve been writing this entry, I’ve been listening to a “wintery” playlist I put together the other day. Taking a page from my friend Lisa‘s book, I started making seasonal mix cds quite a few years ago. The soundtrack to my early aughts are Lisa’s mixes and I credit her with bringing back the mix tape. (trivia: the first thing my old guy every gave me was a mix tape. we aren’t musicians in our house, but we do live music.) I won’t pretend to be original or clever in this regard, but I sure do like sharing the music I’m digging with friends. And, thanks to the future, I don’t even have to have my act together enough to burn hard copies. Sometime in the second half of 2013, rdio bested spotify as my preferred online music listening place. I have some pretty kickass speakers attached to my desktop and I make good use of them. I hope this works for you: wintery playlist. If you’re reading my blog via mobile device, I’m not sure if you can access a rdio playlist. I’m not actually sure if you can access my playlist if you’re not already a (free!) rdio user. It might be worth the trouble of registering. These 10 songs feel very “January” to me, and you might enjoy them, also.
(I shared a shrunken version of the above picture on -where else?- instagram in early december. the boy -mister EIGHT!- waiting to catch the rope that the dada threw over the car for securing our just cut tree. a noble fir. we always get a noble fir. also, please do let me know if the music thing works. I might share more ‘mixes’ here if it does!)