Tucked under this roof is a little blond stuffed to the gills with holiday spirit. She begins each day with the same announcement, "Today is a decorating day." For her, the holidays are a month-long opportunity for creativity and whimsy and feasting on cookies. And, if she had her druthers, I imagine she would spend the month living in a life-sized gingerbread house (or at the least, turning ours into one). It's good to be four.
The much older brunette in the house has been known to get caught up in another type of holiday spirit - the kind that involves marking off the days on the calendar; counting the ones left by the amount of time spent waiting in lines, wrapping gifts, or driving in a car; and generally worrying about how to get everything done. You know, the grumpy kind.
But a funny thing has happened this year. The season will have to get along worrying for itself, it seems I'm all booked up. Right around the time the frenzied holiday worrying really kicks in, Nathan (as Jason so aptly put it) became fluent in walking, covering the distance of a room, making a u-turn and walking back, exploring behind the Christmas tree, and sneaking through the baby gate when his sister doesn't get it closed fast enough (followed by a mad dash for the stairs). In short, he's having the time of his life. At this same time, Audrey began putting on "shows" - shows that require audiences and frequent costume changes to include every outfit in her dress-up suitcase. With these new family endeavors (not to mention a little someone's birthday fast-approaching) demanding the focus of our attention (although, the costume changes in which Audrey insists I not look have carved out quite a niche for mama's knitting), December is beginning to feel like any other month - with the odd addition of a Christmas tree in our family room and lights and garland snaking their way up the banister. The worrying and slow-building stack of gifts to wrap and cards to write and address will have to wait. There's a little boy doing laps around the kitchen table and, one never knows when the next show will begin.
There are also these, the moments of the week:
On Monday, Audrey was playing with a doll who happened to be wearing an apron with pencil markings on it. She told me she had written on the doll's apron.
"Oh, what did you write?" I asked.
"I appreciate this girl and love her so much I gave her a hug and a kiss."
(It's hard to advise a child against performing graffiti when those are the messages she "writes").
Tuesday afternoon Audrey was winding the backdoor curtain into a rope and trying to swing on it while pretending it was the long hand of a clock.
"Audrey, please stop," I said. "That's going to break if you keep doing that and I made that curtain, so I'll be sad if it breaks."
She dropped the curtain and picked up a stray plastic bat, which she began beating against the floor.
"Audrey, stop. You're going to hurt the floor."
"Did you make the floor?"
That evening at dinner she told Jason she wanted to be a doctor, a mommy, and an artist. Jason told her that if she was an artist and a mommy, she could be like me.
"Mom could be an artist some day when she grows up," she said.
We have a rule in our house about screaming or uncontrollable crying. If someone needs to do it (read: Audrey), that's fine, but they need to go to their room or the basement so the rest of us can keep our hearing intact. Friday morning, Nate began crying loudly, which caused Emmy to begin howling, and lead Audrey to say to the both of them, "If you guys are going to keep doing that, you need to go to the basement."
That afternoon, while coloring, Audrey told me, "my crayon almost broke."
"Why did you say 'oh no?'" she asked. "That's nothing to worry about."
Besides fine-tuning his walking abilities, Nathan has also been honing his vocal skills. My favorite new addition to our daily routines is the introduction of the "da-da" song. When he has a full tummy, has embarked on a successful exploring mission, or throws his hands up in a triumphant "touchdown" sign, Nate begins to sing a song made up of one word, "da-da." It's a simple song. It's a happy song. And, while Jason isn't always here when Nathan sings it, every evening when they hear the garage door go up, Nate and Emmy race to the door, vying for the spot closest to where Jason will walk in (meanwhile, Audrey runs to hide, informing me each time not to tell Jason where she is, beginning our first game of hide 'n seek for the evening). I understand this song and dance. Da-da is my happy song, too.
These being the moments that make up the songs and celebrations of our every day, I'm not going to worry about my list of things undone, the scattered and now-disheveled ornaments I keep tripping over, or fast-approaching immovable deadlines. These are nothing more than broken crayons, and we all know that's nothing to worry about.