Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

This season always passes too quickly for me, always. But never as quickly as this year. Having a three year old and an almost two year old is almost too delightful to bear during the holidays. There is a constant state of wonder and excitement surrounding us; every day we are making memories and I forget to write it all down and my journal goes untouched for days and I don't even take (for me) enough photographs because it's like a snowball cascading down a hill. Bigger and more beautiful and wild and fast, but unstoppable, a runaway, uncontained, unfaltering. Behind all the fun and festivity and utter joy, is a wrenching sadness at its passing. I've always been like that, I can remember being six and feeling a desperate need to record my memories and thoughts, the moments of our day too quickly fading. 
Because I've failed to blog during most of this magical time, I will here and now present a few of our favorite December 2015 memories, for posterity ;)

Our friend Scott's 40th birthday party was held at Apple Abbey, the huge and beautiful old-church-turned-airbnb rental home that my sister manages and i clean. If you're ever planning a visit to this area with a large group, I highly recommend this place for your stay, and don't forget to visit me ten minutes away!

Scott hosted a 70's lounge style party complete with fondue and velour suits. It was awesome. That's him on the far right with a bunch of little girls leaping around like maniacs.

Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Rolling Stones on the hi-fi.

Introducing the "Scott Trivia"game, led by Emily.

The winners:

The night turned into a fun adventure for our little family as we bundled up and walked the kids through the icy night back to Addie's house just a block away where my dad would watch them for awhile. Not surprisingly it was not long before I got the dreaded text: breakdown. Need you now. I ran back through the night in my platform boots to discover that the scene at Ade's house had devolved into utter chaos, but I felt like supermom, letting Darin stay at the party, getting both girls calmed and singing them to sleep in Addie and Art's cozy motor home, and even going back to the disco dance party later. Darin and I stayed up late talking with Addie and Art and sipping whiskey. We all borrowed pajamas; the motorhome was warm and snuggly. It was an unforgettable night! 

A new tradition we are starting that we enjoyed last year as well, is going over to my dad's humble little home to decorate for him. He's fine with getting a tree and getting out the boxes, but doesn't really have the gumption to go any further than that. That's where we gladly step in! We had a really nice visit and the girls absolutely loved going through his ornaments (most of which are from when I was little) and hanging them, stringing up lights and playing with nutcrackers. He's not picky at all about the way things look and is just so grateful for us being there bringing our unavoidable Christmassy cheer. It made me want to make a day of it next year with all the little cousins, hot cocoa and snacks. 

One of my favorite memories from this holiday season will definitely be riding the free stagecoach in our little town, Wiser Overland Stage Lines, run by local old west celebrity, Davey "Doc" Wiser.  On Saturday we got all dressed up and ready only to find that the earlier rain had cancelled the rides for the day. Oh, the sheer disappointment! Lucy bawled all the way home. She stopped only to gaspingly suggest between choked sobs, "Maybe they were worried the horses would slip!"
The next day promised some rain again, but Darin called from work to tell me the jingle bells were ringing and horses were clip-clopping! He said he'd take a short break and meet us if we wanted to come down. When I found out rides stopped at 3 pm, the girls and I dashed around the house getting ready to go out. I thought there'd be a long line but there was almost no wait at all. Some friends of ours were right before us in line and the drivers ushered us all in together. It was quite cozy! 

The ladies dressed in Victorian garb give out candy canes and commemorative wooden stagecoach coins.

Davey Doc with his great ruddy beard! He gave each of my girls a teddy bear as we were leaving. 

Our friends all snuggly right across from us.

As we came around the corner and up through the alley I was chatting away when suddenly the driver yelled "It's a hold up" and the stagecoach lurched forward and the horses broke into a quick trot. I grabbed onto Toot who was by the edge, gasping because for a split second I believed the horses were really going out of control! Haha! It was so fun to get a teeny adrenaline rush.

Dazed at what we just experienced:

I love old Hangtown.

The girls proud with Doc's bears.

I'm not sure who decorates this tree by the parking garage in the alley, or feeds the feral cats, but I'm so glad someone does. 

Looking down at the "lighted ladies" and then Daddy's back to work! One of the busiest bookstore days of the year, so grateful to his coworker Candis for letting him come be with us.

And another tradition that looks like it will stick, a "candy making party" at my mom's house. She gets all dressed up and her house is full of warmth and good smells and pretty little trinkets. Not very many that are breakable and she's soooo good with the kids they don't break anything anyway! She had out her little tree and all kinds of tiny special ornaments, many of them antiques of the plastic 50's/60's variety, for the kids to sort through and decorate. Then she made them snacks and they mostly played and watched a Christmas special while we made some Christmas treats. 

Nana's cat Nettie is getting pretty old and a little feeble. She likes to snuggle right on the belly, preferably stretched out flat. We showered her with love. I can't imagine a season at my mom's house without her. 

The kids did each get a ball of Nana's Christmas candy fondant to work with, mixing in pecans and coconut with freshly washed hands. Very important work for them.

They pretty much ate everything they touched.

I hope you are all having a magical wintry Solstice time and Christmas. I send each of you hugs, joy, laughter, and love at this sweet and special time of year. I hope you're sneaking in a little peace as well. I'm off to do so!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holly Jolly

Polly has this new thing where she says rapidfire: "dash away dash away dash away!" and sometimes it becomes "dash away dash away all fall down!"
It's pretty clear it's Christmastime around here when my girls are constantly quoting Christmas poems and songs. Lucy has a strong interest in the lyrics of the songs this year and her favorites are: Holly Jolly Christmas, Deck the Halls, Silver Bells and of course, You're a Mean One Mister Grinch.

Polly seems to like them all.  Both girls relax and Polly immediately falls asleep to "Walking on the Air" from the Snowman. 

We got our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We would never have braved the busy Apple Hill tree farms on a weekend (traffic backed up the freeway for miles and miles), but I finished my housecleaning job in Camino at 4:30 so we knew the crowds be dissipated. We were the last ones at Indian Rock Tree Farm and it was an ice cold afternoon. The employees were gathered merrily around an outdoor firepit and invited the enthralled girls over to warm their hands.
We picked out a fine, sweet little tree to take home and cherish.

Getting out the ornaments is always the best; remembering the old favorites, saying the same things about them year after year. We have plenty from mine and Darin's childhood, many with stories, vintage, handmade, lasting. Breakage happens, I try not to mind much. These trinkets want to feel the little hands.Toot blows all ornament placement rules to hell and likes to put two together on one bough to keep each other company. 

"Mine Christmas tree!" Polly shouts the next morning. Periodically through the day she mentions it casually, "mine tree," as if to convince herself it's still here. 

We held our annual "Welcome December" party for the festive little cousins. I made a big pot of soup and garlic bread and they (sort of)  watched Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. 

You know it's December when I'm drinking my wine out of a big, corny, novelty glass. Em is my willing accomplice. I told her how I was going to get rid of these a couple years back but I looked at the girl doing wintry activities and I just couldn't send her away. 

Playing "night night."


I heard a Killers Christmas song today that says "I wanna roll around like a kid in the snow / I wanna relearn what I already know," and was thinking about that, how it's nice to have children because you get to start fresh, figure out your own approach to the holidays and to everything, really, and then year after year, relearn the outline of your soul's own simple, deep happiness. To encourage my girls to not bicker, I use Yukon Cornelius's tune from Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, but instead of "Silver and Gold" I sing "Gentle and kind, gentle and kind, It's so important to be gentle and kind." Tootie thinks this is hilarious, and I'm not sure if it's really sinking in. But if there's anything that I hope to plant in their fresh and open little minds, it's kindness. And when I'm teaching them that 'tis the season to be kind, and generous, and joyful, well I'm really reminding myself. 
Hoping your holidays are off to a peaceful, cozy, wondrous start!