Christmas is such a fun season in large part because we get to see our extended family, and you've had a big month of cousins. Last week, Erin, Dave and Jones came to Savannah. Jones has grown up a lot since the last time he came to our house, and he is so much more independent now. Rather than sticking close to his mama's side, the two of you disappeared together into your play area, content to enjoy some cousin time.
Then Friday, we traveled up to Tennessee where Jeff, Michelle, Stella and Jane had driven in from Tulsa to see Nana and Granddaddy. We hadn't seen Jeff's family since the summer, but it didn't take long for you all to get reacquainted.
You adored Jane, delighting in little things like slipping her some of your scrambled eggs at breakfast, and feeling so proud when you would make her smile.
You enjoyed playing with Stella too, especially running around in the backyard posing for silly pictures. You fed off of each other until we could barely get a picture that wasn't silly. A good problem to have.
We went to Granddaddy's church on Sunday where we had the honor of lighting the advent wreath and reading accompanying text. Nana thought we should have you say a line, but I wasn't so sure. Verbal though you are at home, you sometimes clam up in front of strangers.
But when I asked you if you wanted a speaking part, you said you did. So we asked you to say, "Mama, why do we light these candles?" At first you protested, "But I know why!" I guess you haven't learned about rhetorical questions yet, but you finally agreed to say the line anyway.
Sunday morning, when it was our moment in the program, we walked to the front of the church and I picked you up so you'd be closer to the microphone. You shyly buried your head in my neck, but when I asked if you still wanted to say your line, you nodded yes. Then, you surprised me with a burst of courage and grabbed the microphone. Your sweet little voice boomed out across the congregation as you said your line perfectly. I was so amused by your sudden stage presence that I wanted to laugh, and it took me a moment to get my composure. My little ham.
In addition to family visits, we've been enjoying other traditions of the season as well. You sat in Santa's lap at a neighborhood Christmas party, then rode a trolley around Ardsley Park singing carols and looking at Christmas lights. One of your school buddies, Ellanor, was on the trolley too and I got another round of silly pictures. You girls were hilarious!
Of course we continued our tradition of trimming the Christmas tree, but some nontraditional things happened along the way. I have always been a big advocate of real Christmas trees. But one day, if your father has his way, we may have an artificial tree. And if I ever agree to it, you can look back on the Christmas of 2010 as the reason why.
Each year, we get our tree from a lot benefiting a local charity. This year, when we arrived the lot had been picked over and the remaining trees were rather scrawny. But it's hard to walk off a charity lot without a tree, especially when the volunteers walk around with you. You were blissfully unconcerned about the condition of the trees, and instead flew around with your Batgirl cape on, fighting tree lot crime.
We chose a tree, brought it home and decorated it. You loved helping us decorate this year, ecstatic about each ornament as it was reborn from the storage box. Most of our ornaments are either gifts from people we love or souvenirs from our travels and they're all special to us.
By the end of the day, the tree was still scrawny but somewhat respectable and I was at peace with it. Mostly. Instead of a bad side, our tree has a bad half, so every time I walked by I found myself turning it to hide the bald spots. Apparently, it suffered one turn too many because 24 hours after putting up the tree, it came down with a sickening crash. Ornaments shattered all over the floor and water poured out of the tree stand all over the presents I'd just put under the branches. It was simply awful.
As I frantically tried to unwrap and salvage gifts, and your Daddy mopped up water, we tried to figure out our next move. How could we keep the tree from falling again? Frustrated, at one point I asked your Daddy, "Are we just not going to have a tree this year?"
To which you replied, quoting a cat from a favorite movie, "I'm going to put my paws together and PRAY you're not serious!"
You can always be counted on for comic relief.
So we had to put the tree back up, but felt the need to memorialize our tree tragedy. Several of the broken ornaments didn't fall off the tree, so we're leaving them there - broken ball, decapitated Tinkerbell, and our beloved Beluga whale from Chicago who is now minus a flipper and half a tail fin.
You said you wanted to keep the beluga whale. "We'll just pretend he can't swim!" Instead I envision the pitiful beluga whale swimming in an endless circle in his tank with that painted-on grin.
Oh sweet girl, you have a way of bringing lightness and humor to so many things. You make our Christmas traditions so much sweeter and significant, and even manage to brighten the frustrating moments too. You cannot possibly know how much joy you bring us. We love you so much.