I want to squeeze the last few moments out of Christmas. Joel is putting Olive to bed, and I need to record our experience to keep it alive for just a bit longer. The build up to Christmas is so long and arduous. I want to live in that little place where we’re singing and laughing and clinking glasses, because otherwise the long preparations of Advent feel too difficult for the few moments of rejoicing.
It’s our first Christmas being home as our own tiny family unit since having Olive. Last year, we went to New England to see our entire extended families, and the year before that, my in-laws came to us. So, this is our first chance to build our own family unit traditions. It feels special and exciting and just the littlest bit lonely. And quite grown-up, in both the positive and more challenging aspects of that reality.
Last night, we went to church for our D.I.Y. Christmas Eve Pageant and service, in which we throw costumes on everyone who comes in, and include them in the pageant at the end. There were almost no glitches, and i was so proud of the young people of our community, who read their lines in voices clear and true.
Of course Olive refused a costume, but we had a great time anyway. I thought to myself, “This is Christmas”, since everything that came today, the presents and food and company, is just the party after the fact. The actual event of Christmas this year was watching 7 year old Olivia play the part of “Ox”, and say her lines with such quality of feeling that I felt like I was watching Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas show.
Our parish custom is for the family who has had a baby most recently to play the Holy Family, and I love the randomness this adds to the event. We’ve had a baby Jesus of African-American descent, baby Jesus as a girl, adopted baby Jesus, but this was the first time we had twin baby Jesuses! That’s our church, always pushing the boundaries on our understanding of Christ. What if Jesus had been born a twin? Everyone was calling them “the Jesi”.
I spent the entire day of Christmas Eve, in between morning dance class and the evening pageant, baking pies in my kitchen. It was very meditative, but I would have loved to have had one other person with me, at least. I pictured what it would be like if I had my sister, my best friends, my mom or my in-laws to keep me company while I measured and rolled and mixed. We had a brief reprieve from the rain, so Joel and Olive spent the day outdoors, and I missed them sorely. But today, we had three pies to show for my efforts, and they were absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. And we were not alone, in the eating of them, even though I was alone in the baking — we had several close friends to spend the day with, and I am grateful.
Last night, we left out cookies, milk, and reindeer food for Santa and his team, and the look on Olive’s face when she saw that they had been consumed was the very best present I could have received. I did, however, enjoy my new rain boots and the other generous gifts I was bestowed with, especially the down payment on another session of my writing class in The Lit Kitchen – the gift of writing is just what I needed!
My favorite moment of the morning was a simple one. I have a small Mommy confession: I hate bubble solution. Bubbles themselves are glorious, but Olive always wants to hold the container herself, and she inevitably spills it, and gets soapy slimy solution all over me and herself. It drives me batty! However, since Christmas is about children, not adults, I got over my slight aversion and stuffed Olive’s stocking with the very best kind of bubbles i could find, from Germany via Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids. Then, once she opened them, I got down on the floor with her, put on some rocking Motown Christmas tunes, and let her blow bubbles to her heart’s content. These bubbles are really high quality, so a toddler’s furious blowing that usually merits nothing gives out big beautiful bubbles, and it filled the room with magic. We both started laughing hysterically, and despite the fact that she and I were soon absolutely covered in the slippery bubble solution I so abhor, it was my favorite part of the whole day.
That is the thing about Christmas – you prepare for months, and the pay-off is fleeting, no matter how bright. However, if you can be really, truly present with it in the moment, right there with the toddler asking to see the baby Jesus again, with the glow of post-meal satiation, or with a minute to watch the rain/snow/clear night air, you can capture that feeling in a locket and open it year round. Return to it, like infinity. Hopefully, that doing so will help me avoid the post-Christmas blues.
We couldn’t afford Christmas cards this year, as every penny counts for us right now, so here’s the best we could get for a family photo today, and we pass it on, with love and the hope for moments of infinity, for this year and beyond.