Two little feet stomping through the house, one joyful cry of "Mama!" signaling awake, old Nora stirs from her doggie bed and noses her way under our covers. Weekend wake-ups are sometimes wonderful... when they happen at a decent hour, preferably anytime after 7 am.
This Saturday morning was like that. A tiny sleep-in respite from the early weekday mornings. A happy 3 year old savoring his new found independence and munching on a bowl of dry cereal left out by a good dad. Happy baby waking up singing and talking to his baby- my old cabbage patch doll.
I roll out of bed with a mission. December 13th- a childhood memory that I want my kids to partake in. St. Lucia Day in Sweden- girls with candlelit wreaths upon their heads, sticky cinnamon buns, white dresses, red ribbons, oh and the boys too since that's all I have to work with. Star boys- with golden stars to decorate the room with. I excitedly gather a few materials and put the rolls in the oven. The boys gather around as I tell them the story and show pictures from a google image search. When I ask who wants to wear the crown, my three year old wrinkles his nose and fold his arms. No matter, I think, the baby is always up for mischief. I approach Leo and he runs shrieking from me. Realizing the wonder of this tradition might only work for little girls eager to be the center of the story for once, I sadly tuck my wreath under my arm and leave for the kitchen, leaving the boys to their trucks and blocks. Corbin-o follows after me, apologetically saying,"Mama, I like trucks."
Thankfully not all things Christmas- related have ended that way this year. Our celebrations started with Thanksgiving. Corbin-o finally old enough to grasp gratitude and spout off the many things he has to be thankful for, "trucks, stuffed animals, moms and dads (note plurals), big Nora, chalkboards...." and on and on, an endless trail of seemingly insignificant things but big things in the eyes of a little boy. His prayers for dinner seem to be all-encompassing as well, "thank you for this food (but only if he likes what's served), for mom, for dad, for Leo, for Corbin, and for ALLLL the people in the WHOLE world- AMEN!" A good reminder to count the little things as well as the big things.
We are in our new home. A major blessing. With tall ceilings and ample living room space to stretch out and enjoy. A fireplace! For me, another place to decorate and its been fun. We went to get a tree. With a utility trailer hooked behind our car. After perusing Home Depot's collection, we decided the selection wasn't so good, nor the prices low enough. We did not experience the 'power of the home depot' as Corbin likes to announce every time we shop there. So to Costco we went. 8-9 foot Douglas Firs. Pay for your tree, drive to the truck, and the guys will tie it on your car for you. So Leo and I ran in to pay for our tree while Corbin and Mr. Incredible found a spot to park in the back of lot, big enough for a car and trailer. When I called to tell him to drive around to the trees, the car wouldn't start. A dead battery. We knew it was dying so it wasn't a surprise... just an inconvenience. So I ran back inside with Leo and waited in line and bought a battery. Then I trekked across the parking lot in search of my car and the rest of the family. Mr. Incredible had the old battery out and the new battery installed super fast... but not fast enough for two restless kidlets. Leo squealed and kicked his feet, landing on Corbin-o's chest, who yelled back. They settled down once we got moving, towards our tree finally. I ran the old battery back inside for recycling while Mr. Incredible pulled up to the tree truck. He handed over the receipt, "Give me the biggest one ya got!" And the tree guys, with sap-covered aprons, fist pumped the air and eagerly pulled out a bundled up behemoth, as if they had been saving the beast for us. The kids started screaming again, so Mr. Incredible told him to throw it on the trailer, un-inspected. The older man standing in line behind Mr. Incredible chuckled and gave him a knowing look as our car filled with noisy kids and trailer filled with giant fir pulled away.
At home, a new neighbor came over to help shake dead needles off and admired our pick. "That's sure a... good-looking tree!" And he was right- its a good looking tree, just massive. But inside, next to our stone fireplace and with soaring wood ceilings above, it fills the space and sparkles with white lights and glittering pinecones. I finally pulled out our actual ornaments and added red, yellow, teal balls. It shimmers and catches your eye from all parts of the house. And the kids are in love.
We've been blessed to read Ann Voskamp's Advent book this year. Each night after snuggles on the couch by the lit Christmas tree, Leo gets sent to bed and Corbin cracks open the book. We read the story, he sits and listens, and then hangs an ornament on a little tree. I never know how much he understands but he recounts bits of each nights' story as he spots its ornament, always looking for that cut-off stump with a tiny shoot that marks the beginning of Jesus' genealogy. A favorite was the story of Rahab and the red rope. He excitedly looked for presents wrapped with red ribbon and exclaimed-"There it is! Jesus' love for me!" (thanks Aunt GiGi for using red ribbon this year!)
The boys and I attended the children's concert with our 90 year old friend, Grandma Ruth. They bounced on pews and clapped at the wrong time and made goofy faces at the people behind us but it was a good start to a lifetime of concert-attending.
"Santa Clause is Coming to Town," Corbin sings softly, under his breath. Mr. Incredible asks, "Who's Santa?" "Oh he's the guy in the red suit." "But what does he do?" Mr. I presses. "He goes to the mall and takes pictures of kids." Corbin answers matter of factly.
"The Children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of cookie crumbs danced in their heads." Corbin reciting The Night Before Christmas.
Leo hears music and has to move. This baby feels the beat sooner than my ears even recognize a song is playing. Pentatonix Christmas albums are on constant shuffle on our Spotify accounts. When "Hark the Herald" starts playing, Leo waits through the beautiful, chorale opening. He keeps his eyes on me and stays within a few feet of where ever I am. Once the dance beat drops, he turns to me, shoots across the floor like a bullet and reaches up, hopping and saying, "humph! humph!" Which in Leo-language, is "Up! and Dance!" So we dance. I've decided that once we start remodeling, a dance floor has to be put in the plans somewhere.
This season is busy- as it is every year. But my little ones force me to notice the little things. Christmas lights in a neighbor's yard half hazardly flung into a bush. The way the setting sun glints through our living room window and lights up the glass balls at the top of our tree. The poor, chewed up plastic nativity set that gets tossed around the house- but that the angel "the one Leo chewed on, Mama, can slide down the stable to tell the shepherds about the baby." And the little things are becoming bigger in our world. The insignificant, suddenly hold a significant place in our days. So we say yes to reading one more Christmas story. And look for every opportunity to give gifts to those who need them. And we say "Give us the biggest one ya got" and join in on the tree guys' joy or the checker at Trader Joe's smiles. We hope you savor the little things and that they become big things for your family too this Christmas season!