Sunday, December 30, 2012

And There It Goes

I'm so grateful that we got to end this terrible year with Christmas, family, and friends. I know many people who have felt the same about this year. Honestly, it was all just too much for me and I am counting on the magic renewal of a new year. That's how it works, right? Everything is just instantly better as the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on January 1st? No? Of course it does! Huzzah.

There's much I could say about it all, but I'm not ready. I am grateful for all the good that regularly sneaked in, squeaked, and quietly rocked me on top of the waves of horror, shock, and pure Sad. I am grateful for the peace I felt at Christmastime. I was not the giant stressball I usually have been the last few years. This year, I was just grateful to wake up and watch my children open their presents. I was grateful to be able to provide a Christmas that lived up to my boys' hopes. I was grateful to feel ease even as water rose up the stairs of our porch and know that me and my family had many places to go should the flood destroy the floor of our home. I'm grateful that it didn't. I'm grateful that little Frida's eczema started to get better after being prescribed a new medication. I'm grateful that things are starting to come together and calm down at home. I am grateful for the promise of more frequent dates with my man and more time alone to do the things that fuel who I'd like to become and be. I am grateful for hot coffee in the morning and hot gifted chai at night. I am grateful for The Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Thomas the Train. I am grateful for farmers. I am grateful for my new phone and my new car. I am grateful for all the people in this world that show so much love even in the face of so much hate.

I am grateful for my children. I am grateful for my dog. I am grateful for my backyard flock. I am grateful for the farm I'm lucky enough to live on. I'm grateful for the town, for the coast, for the marsh. I am grateful for my husband.

I am grateful for all the beauty I experience every day and for the times I am lucky enough to capture it.

Frida fluffing and sniffing Grandma Fox's tree.

We started our Christmas celebrations by finding our tree at Rancho Siempre Verde just down the coast from us. They grow several different varieties all mixed together and provide marshmallows for roasting as well as a wreath-making station, tree swings, tractor rides, and some amazingly huge xylophones. This year we went as traditional as we ever have by chopping down a 10-foot Douglas fir, though we went for a sparse tree that really brought the feel of the imperfect perfect woods indoors. Though it was a freezing day with rain coming down like mad, we enjoyed the time with Birch's family and the fresh air we love so much here on the coast.

As Christmas drew near, we took the kids on a super-secret Christmas Adventure Mission down south to Santa Cruz where we rode the special Thomas Train! Keats and Frida both spotted Father Christmas, though both were more mystified and confused than excited. To his credit, he was very casual and didn't force them into anything. He just sat down next to them, gave them each a gift, posed for a photo, then moved on. Keats really enjoyed playing with the train tables and stamps. The rest of the planned activities were a bit much for him so we headed inside away from the freezing rain and wind to play in the arcade. Keats was most infatuated with the claw machine and the popcorn game. Frida was happy to play with all the prizes and Birch was a little too excited to finally claim the stegosaurus as his own. I was excited to find my favorite arcade game: Rampage! In the end, we were glad and ready to leave, but it was fun and a great time for Keats.


As we left, we discovered that Pescadero was flooding. We rushed home, packed up our things for the second time, put up the furniture as high as we could, and headed to a lovely cabin provided by our landlords to wait out the storm. The next morning, we were very happy to discover our home dry and the water already receding back. Though the water had reached higher than the previous flood earlier in the month, we still made it through and were able to celebrate Christmas Eve and Day at home as planned with all our decorations, our treats, and our beautiful tree.  

We watched Charlie Brown's Christmas and A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve and put Keats to bed. For the first time in three weeks, Keats slept all night in his own bed, knowing that Father Christmas wouldn't come if he didn't sleep in his bed all by himself all night long. (A little deception that was extremely useful. He slept three nights in a row all by himself.) Birch and I prepared for Christmas morning and fell asleep.

Nothing quite prepared Birch and I for the bliss of Christmas morning. Since our bedroom was still in uproar since the flood, we slept on a spare mattress in the living room, under the tree. Waking up snuggled amidst our warm, flannel covers and sheets set us up for a lovely morning. Frida woke up first and we played trains as quietly as we could. Keats slept in (!) and came out dazed and with a bit of a cold around eight-thirty. It took a bit to remind him that it was Christmas morning, but once it was clear, we opened presents all sitting on our snuggly bed. Keats most loved his Thomas engine and new underwear (here's to that enthusiasm lasting into potty-training). Frida was infatuated with her Schleich Guernsey cow family. As usual, Birch insisted on no presents from me this year (because I'm his present... wa-waa), so I got him a new can opener which he LOVED (he's owned the one we were using since college). I left Birch a not-so-subtle hint of an open shopping cart on his desktop and he bought me a beautiful top from Anthropologie that I'm obsessed with. It is so comfortable and the fit is lovely. I'm considering spending my Christmas money on a couple more in different prints. I need to build my wardrobe... badly.

Our Christmas continued with both sets of grandparents and we received even more goodies. Keats and Frida made out like bandits! The two family Christmases are so different from each other, it's nice. On one side, Chinese food take-out, minimal gifts, and lots of serious discussion and laughter. On the other, a homemade banquet, a plethora of thoughtful gifts, and lots of chaotic expressions of love and laughter. I love Christmas and the transition it has made in my life since my own childhood to now. I am grateful for my family and how our relationship keeps evolving as the years pass.

With four full days of Christmas under our belts, on arriving back home, I immediately set to rearranging the kids' room to accommodate all the new things. We're putting together boxes of purged toys and things to donate/toss depending on their state of awesomeness. I am so grateful for the generosity of both of our families. Every year is so lovely (and emotional; I broke down a couple times in the arms of my relatives).

So here is to a brand new year with renewed energy and patience. I hope to include lots of trips to delicious bakeries, more trips to fun places, more laughing, and far more gentleness and peace. I hope I can master myself once again and become the mother, wife, friend, daughter, and sister I hope to be. I hope to understand more and to be better understood. I wish for the world to calm down, take stock, and be grateful for what it has and strive harder to make itself a better place to live. I hope to hear more stories of love, peace, and understanding. I hope to be an instrument in the betterment of our world. It is a beautiful place, let's make it even more so.

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