as 2014 drifts away tonight, i'm spending a few final moments on christmas.
when i was a kid, there was always the anticipation of christmas, then the actual holiday; it all seemed to just morph and swell, and i didn't notice the crazed pace of the days preceding it. but now that i'm the adult, and the buying and planning and cleaning and prepping and decorating all fall on me, the month of december seems so short and frenetic.
in my desire to make things lovely and magical, somehow the season also becomes chaotic and stressful; likely because i forget to factor in things like schedules and chores and business trips and swim meets and grocery shopping and laundry and addressing christmas cards, etc.
but all the work is worth it when, at the end, you are sitting in a warm and twinkling home, sipping a cup of coffee and awaiting the arrival of family, and it seems like time can finally slow down so you can enjoy every moment of christmas.
but then the family arrives, and the luggage is brought in, and the bags are deposited, and the food is put away, and the laughter starts, and the kids run around, and suddenly - time goes even faster than it did the day before.
we had four solid days with my parents and my sister and her family. we made sure food was bought and things were made ahead and the plans were for "simple and easy" so that we had more time to just relax and enjoy. it was all very intentional.
and it worked. at least, it worked better than other years. but yet time still went so crazy fast.
monday morning, henry had swim practice. so while he was off doing that, harper and nora watched "my little pony"
while marc blew wyatt's mind with the sheer amount of legos in our basement.
we did puzzles, we hung out, we ate a quick dinner. then henry was off to a current team vs alumni swim meet, and we all got to attend and cheer him on. best part? he raced one of last year's captains in the 100 free and, even though henry didn't win (by a nose), he got a lifetime best :52.70. the crowd (well, OUR crowd) went wild.
after the oldest and youngest went to bed, matt and becca and i pulled out our phones and played several rounds of heads up ... and laughed until we cried.
the next two days were full of games - both board and video (stratego, five crowns, settlers of cattan, tenzi, pokemon, etc.), snacks, wine and more wine, hanging out.
and nora kept an eye on the sky, looking for snow that never came.
we also managed a quick family photo, despite the cold wind.
my mom and sister and i had come up with the idea to get stuff to make ugly christmas sweaters, which we did on christmas eve. it ended up being such a fun activity for everyone that we've declared it our new family tradition.
there was much laughter, enthusiasm, and photo-bombing.
oh, and cookie-making. there was much cookie-making.
then: christmas eve traditions. the stockings, the letters, the reading of "the night before christmas."
followed by the traditional "get the kids to bed because we still have an hour's worth of wrapping and stocking-filling and present-under-the-tree-putting to do!"
three days in, one day to go. it all had been so fun and had gone so quickly. usually, we have only three days altogether, but four was so much better because christmas day goes faster than any other. and it was so good that i took hardly any photos.
i've learned over the years that i prefer to just be in the moment and soak it all in.
we ended the day with our ugly sweater family photos
then put the tired, happy kiddos to bed, pulled out five crowns and a bottle of gin, and capped off a great holiday in style.
as fast as it went, and as great as it was to be together, and as much fun as we had, on december 26th the house was quiet: marc was watching tv, the kids were playing new video games, and i sat alone in the kitchen, drinking a glass of wine and flipping through a new cookbook, while listening to annie lennox sing "georgia on my mind" and "summertime" on vinyl on my new, perfect crosley record player. and it was just as good to enjoy the stillness as it had been to enjoy the chaos.
maybe that's what christmas is all about when you are the adult. the crazy fun is for the kids, but it's a whirlwind for you. but the 26th? that's just for you, the time alone to reflect and be grateful and exhale, and eagerly look forward to the next year.