It will be December by the end of this week. Can you believe that? Last night, after I finished reading another chapter of this book to T., she asked if we could count the days until Christmas. "Don't you wish it was Christmas now?" she asked, wriggling under her blanket with excitement at the thought of it.
But I don't, actually. Every year December flies by in an absolute rush of grading, work-related end-of-semester deadlines, frenzied list-making, shopping, and baking. Last year I was so overwhelmed that I didn't even bake some of our favorite cookies, and the holiday cards didn't go out in time. Then, every year like clockwork, I exhale and blink and we're loading up the van to head to Maryland, and closing the door on our tree, and Christmas village, and stockings. Then I blink again and it's Christmas Eve and I'm lying awake in bed, in my old childhood room, imagining I hear the clatter of reindeer hooves on the roof above, just as I did years and years ago.
When we took out the Christmas stockings from their bin on Saturday T. pulled hers out with glee and clutched it to her chest. Her eyes were shining with transparent joy. "I haven't seen you ALL year," she told her stocking. She skipped into the family room to hang it and was absolutely, positively thrilled to discover that for the first time ever she could stand on the hearth on tiptoes and hang her own stocking. Without any help at all from me at all.
On my desk at work I have a framed photo of L. and T., taken days after we moved into our current house. We closed on December 8th and within two days we had our Christmas decorations up--before we'd even unpacked the kitchen. In the photo L. is wearing a Santa hat, and T, is next to him, clutching her stuffed Rudolph with the light-up nose. She's only three in the photo, but her face is just as happy-shiny with joy as it was this weekend, when she held her stocking to her chest.
I will not let it all pass in a blur, I vow to myself this year. I plan to milk this year's season for all its worth. I will bake cookies--especially our favorite ones, and shop, and address cards, and wrap, and hold fast to every magic-filled moment.
Hold me to it, okay?
My kids, you see, they grow older and older.
I grow older.