|Carolers, at the town commons. For those Gilmore Girls fans, this stage is like the equivalent of the Stars Hollow gazebo.|
|Hey, the tree lit up this year!|
|Wrestling with Charlotte. We ended up rolling around on the lawn, ladies that we are. If you knew how much I hated grass, you'd understand how much I love Charlotte.|
|More lights to explore.|
|Having a SO much fun.|
|Lorelei slept the whole time, bundled up like an eskimo.|
Oh, and it took me 8 days to get our two Christmas trees decorated.
Then there's the fact that I'm just not interacting with the world at large too much right now. I stay home with Lorelei, run errands, and so on. Short of the candy cane display at Safeway, I'm just not seeing a lot of Christmas cheer. No poorly played Christmas carols by that dude who plays the trumpet as you exit the metro station, no snow, no build up to a break from work as you count the days to Christmas vacation (in my case, it's the opposite--I'm getting closer and closer to returning on 12/21).
I'm even finding the holiday splendor that decks out malls and stores rather gauche and obnoxious this year. I tend to tolerate the Christmas consumerism more than I should, Presbyterian that I am, because I secretly really like all the decorations and the special-ness of the season. But this year, the alignment of CHRISTMAS with SALE is irritating me to no end.
I tried to combat my Christmas funk with lots and lots of Christmas music. It helped, but a lot of the time it just served to remind me that I was missing the mark in feeling Christmas.
So, on Friday night, we debated whether to hit the town lighting ceremony. I was a tad grinch-like, leaning toward no. I was tired, plus Lorelei was crabby from a load of vaccinations she had received that day. Besides, last year the tree didn't even light up when it was supposed to. Bah-humbug.
Then Chris and Charlotte got home, and I just knew in my bones that Charlotte would really, really love it. I gave her her dinner and said, "Do you want to do something special after dinner?"
She looked at me. "Go to bed?"
"No, we can go outside after dinner. In the wagon."
"No, Mommy, it's dark outside!" Charlotte said, grinning and hoping I'd contradict her.
"I know," I said. "That's part of what makes it special!"
"Yeah!" she cried. "We'll go in the wagon, in the DARK!" So, even if the lighting ceremony failed to deliver, the trip to town via wagon would be a hit. So, why not?
We all got bundled up and Chris split a bottle of something that was NOT hot chocolate or coffee into two thermoses for us adults, and off we went. At the town commons, we saw a guy sculpt ice with a chainsaw, the other lights already lit, and carolers. We ran into lots of neighbors, folks from church, and even one of Charlotte's former teachers, and then they FINALLY lit the tree.
I squatted down with Charlotte at what was a perfect viewing spot. I told her to keep looking at the tree as the countdown commenced. Then ta-da! It lit up. I stole a glance at Charlotte's face, and her expression, illuminated by the tree's glow, was equally lit up with awe. I mean, my child has huge (and beautiful) eyes to begin with, and somehow they got even bigger.
Some kids started running around the tree, just full of that little kid glee and joy that Christmas elicits. Charlotte looked at them a little longingly. "Do you want to run around the tree?" I asked her.
She grinned and nodded. "Go for it, kiddo," I said, and off she went. The tree's glow gave me just enough light to keep an eye on the shape of my Charlotte running running running.
After a while, Lorelei started to fuss a bit, and we knew we need to start heading home for her next feeding. On our way, we explored more lights. I was pushing the stroller pretty far ahead of Chris and Charlotte, so when I stopped and turned to wait for them, I saw Charlotte running--gleefully--toward a lit up horse and carriage (in the photo above). Her face was again illuminated by the glow of the lights, and she had a look of such sheer joy on her face, I actually got a little choked up.
So, okay. Going to the lighting ceremony was a good move.
As we walked back toward our neighborhood, Chris asked me, with a smidge of smirk, "Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet?"
"Yes," I conceded, taking a sip of my wi--, um, hot chocolate. We walked on. As we entered the well-lit streets of our pretty, tidy little neighborhood with its lovely, suburbia-esque houses, I took in the scene: my dude tugging my big girl in her wagon, me pushing my little girl in her stroller, on the way to our equally tidy, suburban-esque house.
"Remember our first Christmas?" I asked Chris, "in 2003? Kylie had just been born, and I met your brother and Erin for the first time."
"Yeah," Chris said.
"And now Kylie just turned NINE," I said.
"Geeeeeez," he groaned.
"Could you have ever predicted that a handful of Christmases later, we'd be walking through our quaint neighborhood, with two little girls that we made? In Maryland?"
"Nope," Chris said simply.
As we neared our driveway, Charlotte started shouting, "There's my home! There's my home!"
Awwww, well said, baby girl. I agreed. My home, with my family---now a family of four. Home, in the broadest, best sense of the word.