Thursday, December 12, 2013

I resisted this guy. It seemed like just one more thing to buy and to remember to do each night before bed. I resisted for so long I thought all three of my children had outgrown something like this.

I was wrong.

This year Livvy, who is almost nine, has talked about an elf on our own shelf every single day. Many of her friends have elves who appeared soon after Thanksgiving. She never whined; she simply looked sad each morning when she came downstairs. She talked with a friend from school (whose elf also hadn't made an appearance), and they decided maybe the elf didn't come until the tree went up. I knew Livvy was grappling with the whole concept, because every so often she would ask, "But wait, do you buy the elf?"

She is right on the cusp, this girl. She hasn't asked directly whether Santa Claus is real, but there have been so many questions. How does he know what I want if I haven't told him? How does he know you haven't bought me the same present? How would he know how to find us if we went away for Christmas?

I think, in the end, she's not quite ready to stop believing. Which takes us back to the elf. He seems more important to her this year than ever before, so last night, at long last, he arrived. This morning, when Livvy came downstairs, she said, "No elf, right?" And I said, "Liv, we put up the tree last night. Maybe he came. You should look."

And there he was, sitting next to some glasses in the cupboard. Great joy for one almost-nine-year-old. We may not need him again next year, but this year we definitely do.


Friday, December 6, 2013

When I picked up Holt, my 11-year-old, from a sports practice last night, he asked if I had heard that Nelson Mandela died. He said he had listened in on a conversation some older boys, who were working out nearby, were having about the South African leader. Later, when I walked into the family room, I found him sitting quietly, watching a tribute to Mandela on television. So, in honor of a man who changed the world and a boy who seems to recognize that, a quote for Friday:

"People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." - Nelson Mandela

I hope you have a very happy weekend.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Livvy, my 8-year-old, is beginning to worry about Christmas. Specifically, she's worried that not much is happening around here. There are no lights on the trees outside. There's not a wreath on the door. There's no elf on a shelf. There's not even an Advent calendar, and December most surely has begun.

I remember one year, when I was 13 or 14, driving home with my mother several weeks before Christmas. It was almost dark, and as we drove up the driveway, I asked her why she hadn't started decorating yet. Instead of answering, she began to cry.

It scared me then, but I understand it now. And I'd like very much not to feel so much pressure around this holiday (with a child's birthday thrown in the mix) that it makes me cry. Last year that meant not sending out Christmas cards. This year it means taking a little time to think about the holiday we just had and maybe starting the Advent calendar a week late. Over Thanksgiving, we went to Washington to meet my sister and brother-in-law. It was good to get away and be tourists for a little while. To let the preparations for the next holiday wait. I know they'll get done. Livvy shouldn't worry.

Cartwheels at the Kennedy Center.

A majestic Abe Lincoln.

Each time I've visited Washington as an adult, I've walked around with a lump in my throat. It was true at most of the memorials, including World War II and Vietnam, shown above. It was certainly true at the Holocaust Museum.

The Air and Space Museum is always a fan favorite.

The lump in my throat was back during our walk through Arlington National Cemetery.

This time we took a tour of the Capitol, a first for me.

A little sisterly love :).

All photos taken with my iPhone.

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