I told myself I couldn't close out another week without actually writing something. December is our busiest month, with Christmas cards and class plays and parents association meetings and a good deal of work thrown into the mix. Writing seems to take a backseat when real life kicks into high-gear.
It's also the darkest month with the shortest days, where we pry ourselves out of bed well before dawn (8:30am) and hunker down a few cold hours later at sunset (4pm). It's the time of year where there are truly not enough daylight hours to get things done, and yet the night hours seem interminable.
Yesterday was an all-day drizzle fest. I sat at my writing desk thinking I should maybe probably do something, but all I could muster was gazing out the window at the visible wind gusts, feeling sorry for my neighbours as they attempted to get from front door to car with their raincoats and umbrellas still intact. I felt as dark and damp as it looked outside and for the first time in several months, I surprised myself with an underlying aura of homesickness.
The dog was having none of it and punished me by finishing off a stick of butter and a bag of gingerbread cookies.
So this is our real Christmas. We balance out the wonder of wandering city streets by huddling in our house. We watch a lot of TV, read a lot of books, eat a lot of soup. We start our advent calendar with a bang and then accidentally bury it under a pile of clothes for two weeks.
For the first time ever, I sit all three kids down to make Christmas cards for teachers and family. This is my second craft-related success of the year (the other being a 30-minute painting session in July), so I'll finish out December on a domestic high. I give this rare gift to myself, choosing to embrace a small victory instead of lowering my head and running around feeling defeated and harried. Christmas presents are all bought with a week to spare. 100 Christmas cards (for 100 people back in the US who support our work here) are mostly done. The rest will arrive a bit after Christmas, but that's OK, too.
The wee lad still gets in our bed each night, but not until the early morning hours, so I'll count that another success, too. He brings his fox - or his turtle or his giraffe - in with him, burrowing their way between Matt and I (the third child has so many stuffed animals passed down to him, and another one waiting under the tree). He lays there contented for a minute or two before kicking off the covers; this is particularly maddening in our state of non-sleep. The girl comes in to find one of us - usually Dad because he's better for a cuddle - and our daily rhythm of musical beds goes on and on. When my alarm goes off and it's still pitch black outside, Ash will wrap his arms around my back and whisper I love you. He'll walk me downstairs and sit on my lap while I drink my coffee. Age five will not last forever.
These are the shortest days, the darkest days, the sweetest days. I want to remember them like that.
I'll remember how his soft arms feel in the morning, remember a girl with bedhead, remember the eldest who likes cheese on his eggs.
I hope I'll never forget.