It’s hard to believe it’s Advent already. Last page of the calendar, countdown to Christmas. I scored a wooden Advent calendar on Zulily a few weeks ago, so we are making our way through the month with a few fun activities. Most are pretty simple, but it doesn’t take much to impress a three-year-old boy. Everything is so exciting for him this time of year.

Advent Calendar Day 1

The first day’s activity was to make a Christmas decoration, so of course, Jude settled on Mickey with some festive puffballs glued in no particular fashion. It’s that special combination of heinously ugly and beautifully endearing that only a toddler can accomplish.  He keeps pointing to it on the tree, bringing me in the room by the hand and gasping, “Look mama!” like it’s a big surprise for me.

Last night’s Advent activity was “breakfast for dinner” which meant omelets, pancakes, and bacon. It’s such a simple change, but somehow it really does feel fun.  He thought eating pancakes when it was dark outside felt special, and celebrating the whole month of December with little daily gifts like this feels special to me as well.

Happy Holidays, friends.  There’s a lot of fun left to be had this year.

Christmas Recap and Post-Holiday Let Down

It’s been such a great Christmas, and we’re still recovering over here.  I found myself taking so many mental photographs, wanting to freeze things just for a second.  I know these are the days, and I have a boy who gets more fun as the months pass.  Christmas really just puts into clearer focus what we know all year.  That little joys matter most.  That childhood should be savored, and family is where life really happens.

I watched cousins play on Christmas Eve in the same home I’ve spent every one of my Christmas Eves for the past thirty-one Christmases I have existed.

cousins in a box

And I learned that Santa really isn’t any less magical when you know the whole story and are running the show for your own little family.

Santa came!

Santa came!

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

new kitchen!

Christmas breakfast feels like perfection with any size crowd, big or small.

Christmas Breakfast

Christmas Breakfast

And both the best and worst part of all of it is that you wait another year for it all to happen again.  And for me, at this season of my life especially, I always wonder what exactly that will look like – next Christmas.  With growing children, aging relatives, and what feels like a persistently changing view, I really don’t know what Christmas of 2012 will feel like.  And that’s both thrilling and scary, like the unknown always is.

So the rest of this week will have me taking down the decorations, finding places for newly acquired gifts, and looking back on the year behind me.  I have so much to be grateful for.  And lots more good stuff around the corner, I know.  I feel full in the best way, but also in transition.  The end of the year always leaves me a little restless and achy like this.  Am I the only one?  There is so much to think about when you consider where you’ve come from and wonder what’s ahead.  I hope I’m ready.

the Christmas recap

I can’t believe it’s been something like 2 weeks since I last posted.  Christmas came and went, and I know better than to use all those trite and ridiculous adjectives like beautiful or magical or wonderful, but it’s hard to think of much else to describe this Christmas.

We spent Christmas Eve at my Grandmother’s as I have every other December 24th of my twenty-nine years here, and I love that. I love that I sit by the same fireplace and eat the same recipes and see smiles from the same people year after year.  This holiday is about the birth of Christ, of course, and I don’t mean to ignore that.  But on another level, it’s also about family and tradition and belonging. I love belonging.  I love bringing Jude along with me and settling in to the same Christmas Eve traditions that feel like a big, broken-in recliner.

So we ate and opened gifts and played and joked and did all the things I’ve done every year of my life, only now I get to see my own little boy play with his cousins the same way I did mine. That, my friends, overused though the word may be, is beautiful for certain.

Tucking him in late that night and seeing those chubby little legs in candy-striped pajamas left me so excited for the day ahead, but no anticipation could have prepared me for such a perfect day.  We finished Santa preparations late that night and headed to bed all giddy for the next day.

His confused little expression on Christmas morning was priceless, and I couldn’t help but think as I brewed the coffee leisurely and fed him breakfast at our usual pace, that soon I would not be able to take my time with such tasks.  But now?  Now he doesn’t get the whole Santa thing, but he’s pretty keen on all these new gifts nonetheless.

The legos were a hit!

So sometime Christmas morning, as I balanced a toddler on my hip, refilled my cup with some hot coffee, and tripped over legos for the fourth time that day, I realized something pretty crazy.  This is it.  This is my time. We think Christmas is all about little ones and best when you’re a kid and blah blah blah, but it’s not.  I’m here to say it’s so much better now.  And this is my time.  I’m the mama, the tradition-maker, the Christmas-queen, the baker, the present-buyer, the stocking-stuffer, the story reader.  The mother and keeper of my own home.

In the long line of tiny moments that say loud and clear, Motherhood is real and lovely and HUGE.  I hope you are you paying attention, this was one for sure.  Somewhere between the second helping of breakfast casserole, the third lap around the house with the wooden frog, and the countless cuddles, I really got it and it’s such a lovely feeling.  And then, my friends, I laid our little candy cane down for a nap, and could this day get any more perfect?  Of course it could.

That's real, live snow, y'all!

I don’t even know when the last time was that Atlanta saw a white Christmas, but this was the real deal.  And every little flake that pranced to the ground made this Christmas move from a beautiful one to an ohmygosh-this-is-magic one. Again, every overused adjective in the dictionary belongs here, so I won’t nauseate you with the high-on-life thing, but there are moments when you have to say thank you.  Aloud.  Because this stuff is no accident, and for my little family, this was one cozy, white, fluffy dose of perfection.  We spent the afternoon on Christmas day over at at my in-laws’ stuffing our bellies with delicious food and opening fun presents.  And when we got home, Jude fell asleep on me, and we laid by the fire – baby strewn across my chest and my new Kindle propped in my right hand.  Just reading and snoozing and watching the fire dance and feeling so fulfilled that my little heart-cup was overflowing with a big, sweet, gushy mess of sentimentality.  On the list of moments I’d like to revisit one day, that one appears for sure.  Funny you can find happiness right in your own living room and it’s so perfect you have to step outside yourself for a moment and say remember this.  Happy now.  Perfect now. Love.

Life is beautiful, friends. Especially on days like these.

I hope Christmas was full of happy things and love and family and all the things you dreamed of.  Happy 2011, y’all!  Beautiful things are ahead,  I just know it.