Abundance, part one.

So Christmas has marked another year, and it was yet another good one!  My most wonderful BFF and husband extraordinaire was absent from the day time celebrations this year on Christmas Eve and Christmas day because he’s one of the good ones, and he was helping his patients in the hospital.  We knew that working in an ICU would mean nights, weekends and some holidays, because for some reason life-threatening illnesses don’t ever seem to take any time off (weird, right?) and we both have been on board with that from the beginning.  This was one of those holidays, and I sought consolation in knowing that if ever someone I loved had to be in the hospital over a major holiday, or any day of the week for that matter, I would feel so grateful to the men and women that gave up time with their family to help tend to mine.  And I do feel that way, really and truly.  That being said, everything in my life is that much better when Drew is there, and Christmas is no exception.  So while we had a fantastic day ridiculously rife with abundance and good cheer to boot, unlike years past, the best moment of Christmas day was not the excited rush to the living room in the morning, or the clasping of hands before our good meal, but it was the snowy hug at the end of the day as Drew made it home safely and we were able to wish each other a merry Christmas in person.  I love that guy, I really do.

Knowing that we were taking a different approach to the holidays, Drew and I were very very very lucky and thankful to be able to accept a gift of dinner and a night away on the 23rd at a nearby B&B, The Clifton Inn.  My parents kindly kept Asher for most of the day and over night, and Drew and I spent the afternoon at the movies with an ungodly amount of sushi nestled between us (sorry if any of you work for Regal Cinemas, but we promise that we were very neat).  We saw the newest Cohen Bros movie, True Grit, which left us with plenty to talk about after.  From there we dashed off to the Clifton where we were greeted with a surprise announcement of an upgrade to a sublime suite.  This of course was cause for celebration, so we ordered martinis to sip on and read out loud to each other from our favorite Christmas book, Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris.  From there we were treated to a heavenly meal with too many course options to list, but let’s just say that it all began with homemade pork belly ravioli and ended over a gorgeous cheese plate and some chocolate mousse that left me speechless.  Drew tiptoed out in the wee hours to slip off to the hospital, and I woke up later to croissants, the Washington Post, and visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  It was all, in a word, divine.

With a full belly and a rested mind, I bustled out to my Mom’s with homemade peppermint ice cream and last minute gifts in tow (while listening to this fabulous broadcast about A Christmas Carol on the radio program, On Point) and from there we settled into our favorite annual routine of prepping food for the next day, listening to an endless stream of Christmas carols, and sipping on a little champagne.  My sister Shelle and her family arrived that afternoon and we had a really delicious and luxrious Christmas Eve meal with family friends at their bed and breakfast, Fallen Oak.  Fast forward to Christmas night, Drew’s blustery return (we did get a white Christmas in these parts) piles of wrapping paper and big smiles all around, and all Drew and I could do was whisper to one another, “we dwell in abundance” as we collapsed into bed and fell asleep listening to the sweet sounds of Asher’s sleeping body in the crib next to us.

Drew’s absence provided me, us, with an essential perspective in this holiday season of indulgence, and that is, every day is Christmas around here.  We are (mostly) excited about the promise of every day, we always seem to have gifts waiting for us in one way or another, and Drew is always quick to say how thankful he is for our health, a very real statement of gratitude from a man who deeply understands what loosing one’s health can actually mean.  For a weekend that was marked with beautiful, thoughtful and really fun gifts, with an endless stream of rich and filling food, with twinkling lights, glowing candles, and that precious sound of a child sucking in air in delight as he sees what’s under the wrapping paper, with laughing and clinking silverware and glasses, and with the feeling of loving and being loved, it seems that we might be pushing our luck a little to say that we needed to be physically together to appreciate it any more.  Drew’s work in the hospital is a near daily meditation on what really matters in this world, and you combine that with the abundance and glow of this special time of year, and I am left wondering how we will ever offer an adequate thanks for all that we have.  But I will keep trying, and I will try here too: Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

hanging with the elves.

Time to play a little catch up.  Waddya think, in honor of all the list making that’s going on around the world, should we follow suit and make a Walton list of our own?

1. My parents went to Australia via Hawaii for almost a month, so we happily house sat for them during that time.  Now that I’ve finished crying for them because they had to suffer through the adventure of a lifetime without us in tow, we are working on settling back down in our own house.

Mom and Skip laughing it up down under!

I took a look at my calendar and discovered that Drew and I have slept in our own bed exactly 6 nights since November 19.  All in all it was fun to play house at my parent’s while they were gone, and we had a really good time getting crafty with the Christmas decorations and taking advantage of the amenities that their cozy house offers, but it has definitely thrown off my sense of holiday productivity (read: my Christmas cards are hopefully going in the mail tomorrow).  In all honesty, I’m just glad to have them back because they’re my parents, I love them, and my mom and I have a rigorous daily phone call schedule to maintain that was sorely interrupted with the whole half-way-around-the-world gig.

2. My little sister Julie Claire is so stinkin cute.  She came to visit following the end of her first (very successful) semester at Chapel Hill.  We took her to our friend’s ugly Christmas sweater party, and then proceeded to hole up in the house and force her to cut paper snowflakes and watch Home Alone about 8 times.  Our life is so glamorous!  She’s a good sport though, and the best Aunt that a boy could hope for, AND we love having her here, so I hope that we’ll be able to entice her back with our slipper wearing ways at least a couple of more times before next semester ends.(It’s ok if you feel really jealous of our amazing Christmas sweatshirts, and also, how pretty is that girl?  Ridiculous!)

3. Asher has started doing more and more things that the American Pediatric Association, Social Services, and other mothers generally frown upon.  Things like sniffing out the only pair of scissors in the house, stuffing previously hidden batteries up his nose, and only reaching for mugs that have scalding hot beverages in them.  Where last week he couldn’t reach or find any of these things, suddenly this week he’s the Sherlock Holmes of Rugby Ave.

Asher, drunk with power, wielding an off-set spatula and looking for the nearest outlet to stick it in.

This has lead to Drew and I saying the big N-O a bit more.  Yesterday I couldn’t help but laugh as Asher went from forbidden project to off-limits place calmly saying “no no no no no no no no” to himself as he reached for the coffee mug, the remote control, my cell phone etc.  It would seem that he now just thinks that all of these things are called No but in no way off limits to him.  Time for Plan B and better baby proofing, and a little more ‘yes-ing’ in the Walton household.

What number am I on?  OH. 4. I grew up with a friend who had to give up something every time she came home with something new.  This seemed totally crazy to me when we were kids, but now I’m warming to the idea.  I cleaned out my closet, bathroom, dresser, jewelry box and shoes yesterday, and Drew is tackling the linen closet today, and all I can say is we have too much.  Way too much.  So I think that I’m going to start doing that for 2011…rather than mindlessly bringing more into the house, I’m going to ask myself if there’s something I’m willing to take out in order to bring this new thing in, while of course also reminding myself that we do not ‘need’ anything at this point.  We’re tentatively thinking about moving in the coming year (shhh!) and I swear that I break out in hives every time the word is even mentioned.  Today Drew is filling the car to the brim with a Goodwill drop off and I’m already breathing easier without all of those t shirts from college holding court in our basement.

5. My big brother is really stinkin cute too.  And so is his son.  I love them.  They came for an early Christmas celebration this past week and we had such a good time going completely bananas with them.  Oh, and we created some solid gold Christmas memories for the boys with these elf outfits.  Muaaahhahahahaha.  <<<Evil parental blackmail laugh echoing through the room>>> Is that mean?  What I meant to say was, holy reindeer hooves those kids are cute!  And the truth is, if we could find them, Drew and I would have happily worn elf outfits too, so maybe that makes it more acceptable?  As a quick aside, have I ever told you that I went to college with a girl whose entire family dressed up as various Thanksgiving foods for their Thanksgiving meal every year?  Well I did, and they did, and I think about that every year when I get dressed for Thanksgiving.  So funny, but kind of intriguing.

Anyway…here are the pictures of the boys:Asher was completely unwilling to wear the hat (no fair!) but Jack was much more game.  On the bright side, I did get to have my picture taken with one of Santa’s elves and Rudolph’s distant cousin, so I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Ok, so that’s the list.  Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year, the day that we drive the darkness away and look forward to the coming light.  If I’m not mistaken, it was also the day that we would write down our wishes (mostly to the tune of toys I’m sure, but we’ll throw in a retroactive shout out for world peace for some karmic points) on scraps of paper and send them up the chimney with my step mom every year.  This was all very Mary Poppins and magical, and I can’t wait to do it with Asher et al one day.

Thus concludes my holiday post of random thoughts, happy early solstice to you, now go spread some good cheer!