Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas at Our House

We had a very merry one...

Christmas Eve

The new boys :)

Cookies for Santa

Taylor cooking..GET BACK she's a WIFE!
Christmas Morning and wondering if Santa brought switches or presents...
Daddy helped Santa make this table with a Lazy Susan just our size!
Christmas BrunchAunt Sashie and Uncle JoshMoogie!

Carols with PoponI hope yours was merry too...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We Still Believe...

Jeremiah and I have struggled a little lately over whether or not we should "do Santa." We have heard the opinions of other parents who say they don't do it because they don't want to lie to their children. They want their children to know they only speak truth to them, so they don't look at them one day and wonder if all that Jesus stuff is pretend like Santa. I get it, I see it, but it makes me sad.

Some of my most vivid and wonderful memories from childhood are from Santa. Lying in my bed on Christmas Eve. Straining hard to hear noises on the roof, a rumbling in the chimney. My heart beating so fast with excitement and anticipation that I could not force myself into slumber, even though I knew I must if Santa was going to come. I remember when the veil began to slip, and I started asking questions about Santa. My Mom strove valiantly to keep my belief alive, and I believed long after many of my peers had fallen to the way side. There wasn't an exact moment I knew he wasn't real, but instead of being sad or angry or questioning God (as many parents warn me my children will do one day), I felt proud--like I was one step closer to the adult world. I joined forces with Mom, curbing questions and pretending that I believed so that my sisters could still wait breathlessly on Christmas Eve. Slowly, one by one, each sister joined the grown-up team, and even when my baby sister joined us, we couldn't bear to let go of the game. I don't ever remember Mom voicing the fact that she was indeed, Chris Kringle. Even as a married woman, I was still coming down the stairs to see what Santa had brought, and it would have been a sacrilege in our house to breathe a word to the contrary.

So, do I rob my children of these memories? Do I think that I am going to hinder my child's salvation or my tender relationship with them, because I play make-believe with gusto? Really look at what you know to be true about your own parents...How much of it hinges on their attitude towards Santa Claus? Isn't it more about how they lived their life before you every single day? And, more than anything else, there is only one very narrow window in life when a person has the ability to truly believe in magic. I could not know that I squelched that opportunity for my child. It's too precious. It's too valuable, because it's the footprint that's been left in my heart--of that time when magic was real--that brings color and beauty to stories I read even now.

I love you friends who have opted to leave Santa in the pretend realm, and I do respect your reasoning, even if I don't agree with it.

(Just so we're clear and I don't get any "Jesus is the reason for the season" blog comments, we WHOLE-HEARTEDLY believe that over here, and I think it is a travesty to let anything, including Santa, overshadow that. I'm just saying I think there's room for the big guy in red as well.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

STIR Crazy

Are anyone else's children going stir crazy this winter. Too cold to play outside. Too boring to play with the same old toys inside. The only follow their Mom around the house, trying to "help" and ask a zillion questions!!

My friend Lauren sent me this website with crafts for 2 year olds, and the other day we did this one. It gave us an activity we could do together and she could use those little hands she's been so desperate to put to good use. Hope this helps all of your stir crazy homes as well!

On a much more serious note, in the same email that my friend Lauren told me about this website, she also asked if I would tell you about Jenny's Light . This organization began a year ago, when a Mom, just like you and me, was suffering from Postpartum Depression and took her own life and the life of her newborn son. The Mom's name was Jenny. Her husband, Chip, was in residency with Jeremiah. Jenny was only a couple of weeks ahead of me...she carrying Graham while I was carrying Mary Aplin. She and Graham both died on the same day as Mom...December 19th. I was in such shock about Mom that I could hardly register what had happened to them. There were weeks where I could not look at Mary Aplin's smile, almost the exact same age as Graham, without feeling my insides turn over--knowing what Jenny and Chip were missing. When I moved back to Birmingham, a week after Mom, Jenny, and Graham's passing, I began to sift through the piles of mail and found Graham's birth announcement. I haven't posted about this before, mainly because it didn't feel like my story to tell, but Jenny's Light is trying to raise money and spread awareness for other Mom's, like us, who might need help but don't know how to find it. Please check the website out, and give if your heart feels inclined.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Day in My Mind

My family was sitting around the dinner table this weekend, eating steaks to celebrate John David's birthday, when my Dad posed the question, "What would you do if you had one day and money was no object?" My answer came to me surprisingly quickly, and while I have had a few days to mull over and add details, I wanted to share it with you:

My well-rested eyes would flutter open to find myself sunk deeply in a goose down mattress, in a canopied bed made of sturdy wood and delicate silk. My heart would be at peace, knowing that my girls were having a play day with their grandparents, and my husband was still sleeping peacefully at my side. I'd snuggle closer to him and feel his warmth as I looked out the window to see sunlight breaking over the English countryside. He would wake, and we would both revel in the fact that there was no need to hurry out of bed. We'd talk excitedly about the plans for the day, though it would be silly since we have both been dreaming and planning for weeks. Then, he would dress quickly and leave to enjoy an adventure all his own as a maid scurried in to kindle a fire and draw my bath.

After soaking in rose petals and lavender oils in my bath by the fire, and re-reading some choice passages of the eighteenth century love story I've just finished, it's time to dress. This is a crucial step, as one must feel beautiful to truly enjoy a day. I'm going to wear a calico dress, cream with tiny pink and blue flowers scattered intermittently across the soft fabric. Cotton lace accents the borders of the dress and my whole ensemble looks as though Elizabeth Bennett just took it off. It won't, however, actually be an antique dress, because I don't want to spend the day fussing over keeping it perfectly preserved. Once I'm dressed, feeling every bit the Victorian woman, I'll tiptoe down the rutted and worn stairs of our old English manor house and smell breakfast being prepared in the kitchen. A combination of scones baking, eggs poaching, Hollandaise sauce simmering, Canadian bacon frying, and wood burning entices my senses and draws me to the kitchen where I find a plump cook bending her bonnet-covered head over a bowl as she scoops out the Devonshire cream she'll be serving with our breakfast.

She shoos me outside and I laughingly oblige. As I step out the kitchen door into the garden, I find that our breakfast has been set under the newly blossoming cherry trees. I am greeted by two dear friends, who share my love of Victorian novels and are also dressed in period attire. There is a stranger, a man, at the table, and as we approach he stands and introduces himself in a crisp British accent as the world's premier authority on old English literature. We sit down to our breakfast of Eggs Benedict, scones and tea and our new acquaintance enlightens us on the mysteries and symbols and history and themes and cultural jokes, in any novel we care to ask about. The time escapes us, entranced as we all are by his vast knowledge, and I have to excuse myself for I have only one day, and there is much more to be done.

Throughout breakfast I have enjoyed the comfort of knowing that Jeremiah is close by, active in doing something he loves, but now it is time to feel the excitement of enjoying life with him. I rush to the ancient stone barn where he waits with two horses saddled and ready for us. A groom hands me a riding coat, cinched tightly at the waist but billowing large enough behind me to cover the horse's rump. With a nod from Jeremiah we are off, just the two of us galloping hard and fast across the meadow before us, feeling the strength and agility of the animal beneath us who is allowing us to experience what it is he was made for. We slow down, laughing as we approach a little stream and canter the next mile or so through the clear spring water. We talk about the cottage we might build beneath that copse of trees and the fun our girls would have exploring these forests. The horses lead us to a small pond and we realize that the heat of the day is upon us. We take off our riding coats and shoes and run into the cold waters, soaking our clothes and thankful for the respite. After a sufficient wade, we ride back to the manor and hand our horses over to the astonished groom, who is not used to receiving his riders soaking wet.

Once back inside we change into normal clothes, you see Jeremiah was in riding breeches as well. I slip on an airy, blue silk sundress with a cream sweater tucked under my arm for the evening chill. We go out to meet the helicopter that his waiting to take us to...Cinque Terre on the Amalfi coast. The sweet cook has prepared a picnic basket with thinly sliced beef tenderloin on yeast rolls and grilled asparagus spears for us to eat on our trip. We enjoy the snack and the views from the air until fatigue overtakes us and we both fall asleep.

We wake as we land and are ushered to a small table on the beach as the helicopter flies away. A steep cliff rises up behind us and aqua blue water splashes onto the shore in front of us. We both have a Margarita and I put my feet in Jeremiah's lap as we quietly enjoy the brass orange and red light of sunset over the water. Hand in hand, but not locking fingers because that is so ridiculously uncomfortable, we walk the half mile down the beach to the next village carved into the mountainside. As dusk is settling we are seated at a restaurant that we almost missed, so part of the mountain it seemed with its cobbled stone edifices. There is no artificial lighting, only candlelight, and we eat rich pastas and savor locally made wine long into the evening. Finally, we walk through the small seaside town, on the narrow streets, surrounded by the laughter and talking of happy Italians, delighting in life. We fall asleep in our private villa, with the windows thrown open to let in the fresh air off the sea and the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks. I am tucked snugly under crisp white linens, beside my husband, with a fire crackling at our feet...

Anybody else want to share your perfect day???

Christmas Tree Decorating Checklist

One Clark Griswald sized Christmas tree that is beautiful but way too big for our small house...check!One fire roaring in the fireplace (If you are like us and cannot afford to buy more wood, feel free to burn wood scraps from your shop as seen here)...check!
Old school Christmas music crackling on the record player...check!Three mugs of hot chocolate with extra whipping cream...check!One little urchin who is up way too late for Christmas tree decoration...
and who is ready and willing to shatter anything in her grasp...check!
One little elf who is so excited about her hot chocolate that she is acting intoxicated... but is also very willing and able to help...check!

One beautiful tree...
With the flash off for effect...check!
Merry Merry!