“MIKE,” I said urgently into the phone, “Can you come home RIGHT NOW?”
“What? Babe? Yes! What happened? Is everything OK? Are you OK? I’m coming home now…”
[sounds of feet shuffling, a bump]
Oh. Riiiight. When you are married to a breast cancer survivor, the drama ramps up quick.
“Ummm…” I began, sheepishly. “There’s only ONE tree left at the corner market and it’s too big for me to haul and WE DON’T HAVE A TREE YET, MIKE” (I am gathering steam now) “and it’s almost Christmas and nothing is baked and the kids want to decorate something and WE DON’T HAVE A TREE!!”
There is a long pause. I hear some deep cleansing breaths through the phone. “Babe” he starts. “Baby. Work is nuts right now. I can’t just up and leave…” his voice trails off.
Stony silence on my end.
Mike heaves a great sigh. “Ok” he says. “Let me see what I can do.”
In the end, he left work roughly 43 minutes early on a Friday (#whoscounting) and showed up on our doorstep, tree in hand. SWOON. My hero.
I don’t often pull the Pouty-Pouty-Princess Routine, but the situation was dire. (Not, mind you, cancer dire, just holiday-stress dire. I was, to quote a dear friend, “appropriately upset”.)
So Mike came home and we decorated a tree (by “we” I mean “the boys” and by “decorated” I mean “threw on stuff”). The tree looks EXACTLY as one would imagine a tree might when decorated by two boys under the age of 9. I’ll post a pic on IG – it’s hysterical. (And bottom heavy.)
And then my mother, who is always attune to me in some weird way, mailed a Box of Happiness: three types of homemade Christmas cookies, Chex-mix (she has the best recipe), candy from Donkers, and….the piece de resistance: Nanaimo bars (for you Canadians out there). So of course I sobbed. Had myself a good cry, surrounded by wrappers and cookies, and a few broken ornaments. And then I read the seriously wise comments on last weekend’s post and cried a little more.
The holiday season can be hard on so many levels. For me, it represents another year come and gone. I see my two little guys changing before my eyes, I see my parents showing their age, I see Mike and I evolving (slooowly) into real adults and carrying the proverbial torch that my dad once wielded with so much energy and strength….and it’s almost as if I can feel the earth spinning. As if the passing of time is a physical thing, slipping through my fingers.
If only I could grab it and hold on.
So instead I grab my boys. My lights. I squish what’s left of Pax’s chunky thighs, and kiss their freckled noses. I wrap my arms around Raines’ lanky frame, realizing that his shoulders are getting broader and that sometimes, he wraps his arms around me.
I have no answers at the moment. No theories or new understandings or meaningful insights. So I read and re-read the wise comments on last week’s weekend post from mums more experienced than I:
My only wisdom to share this holiday season, and it’s so applicable: PRESENT, NOT PERFECT. The best gift we can give to out families is not a stressed-out mama but a calm, happy one. She might not have homemade cookies to feed her kidlets and a perfectly decorated house, but she’s pleasant and loving and knows what her priorities are. -Laura
For us, we have focused on the relationships. The world will always be there to push and pressure and remind our children that to be successful they (and you) need to be doing more, having more, experiencing more. But the thing the world isn’t so good at is helping our children learn how to have good relationships. What matters isn’t the gifts or the parties or the decorations but what you taught them along the way. -Renae
I think you have to be more intentional about things as they get older, and really make decisions about what’s most important to your family. I ask my kids what their most important Christmas traditions are so I can make sure we get to them. -riseuppup
We moms have an endless ability to acclimate & adapt! What seems crazy-busy at first just becomes the new normal of parenting that age/stage of children–& we handle it. Just like we always do. -Shan
The final thing for a perfect Christmas is love. Really the kids just remember that you were together and you did stuff and laughed. -MJ
It’s like that Walt Whitman quote I love so much: “We were together. I forget the rest.”
This. This will be my mantra for 2017.
Mike and I have managed to pull off a small Christmas miracle (assuming we don’t screw it up in the next 24 hours): in lieu of gifts, we’re taking the boys to Colorado. We leave the day after Christmas.
And the best part? It’s a SURPRISE.
I realize this might be the last year I can blog about surprises like this, but gang: I’m so freaking excited I had to tell SOMEONE. Over drinks a few weeks ago, Mike and I came up with a Percy Jackson inspired prophecy that the boys will open up on Christmas morning. From there, they’ll have to decipher and search for a set of clues that will help them understand the prophecy. We’re using those Russian nesting dolls as the “oracle”.
Want to hear the prophecy? [clears throat]
Two mountain born must answer the call
In the early morning hours, the world will fall
Away from the ground to the city in the sky
Where through the pow you carve…or cry.
OMG SO FUN, RIGHT??? I’m seriously over-the-moon. And thank goodness for Pinterest – there’s a ton of fun scavenger hunt ideas for kids.
So that’s what’s happening over here! I’ll probably be posting mostly to Instagram over the next week or so (find me @shanachristine), but the rest of the TME team has a few more posts planned for the remainder of 2016. Cam has one more styling fail to share with you (but the fix is perfect for NYE), we’re already keeping an eye on post-holiday sales (which have started, geez), and I have a few NYE outfit ideas involving….turtlenecks. Because unlike our quickly-growing children, some things are constant.
The last weekly newsletter of the year will be coming out tomorrow…and with it, what the TME team is *planning* (hoping?) to read over the holiday break. You can subscribe to our newsletter here.
Readers, we feel so very lucky that you have taken time out of your busy schedules this past year to read this blog, to comment, to share, and to make this little corner of the internet an inspiring, hopeful place. On behalf of the entire TME team, we wish you a holiday filled with peace, laughter and love. May you and yours be all together…and forget the rest.
All our love,
Shana you are an inspiration to all. Happy New Year.
I don’t always agree with your stylings, Shana, but you are a natural born writer. I feel you, Mama. I am right there with you on so many of your sentiments, your attempts to grab time, the quiet sobbing moments, the totally out of control chaotic moments, the delicious yumminess of our kids moments, the calm zen “I got this” moments, quickly followed by the hang on it’s all going so fast and how is it almost Xmas and there’s no tree moments. Thank you for expressing yourself so beautifully, making so many of us moms feel less isolated and more connected… and, above all, for keeping it real. Happy New Year to you and all at TME.
That Whitman quote is great! I am going to stitch it on a sampler or something. I seriously *love* it. Many years ago, well 14 years ago exactly, we woke up on Christmas Eve morning and I realized we had no tree. I was a parent to a child and had flunked Christmas before she was even a year old. That was the last time. I now have a year long plan that I follow. It’s ridiculous, but I spend every December going to parties, baking, and under a blanket on the couch with my family. I decided long ago that the thing that creates happy Christmas memories is a smiling mother whether she is baking cookies, throwing snowballs, swimming laps, doing the hula, or watching movies. Like everyone else, I have a lot of crazy in my life, but this December I have made gallons of homemade hot chocolate and watched almost the whole season of Gilmore Girls with my teenage girl and elderly dog. Looking forward to season two!
This post made me cry, Shana. In the best way. Thank you. Thanks for everything you wrote and the wise quotes from others too. You expressed well what truly matters and it resonated deeply. Much like the post when you were in Spain and saw the family lighting candles and the mother was fighting cancer. You wrote so succinctly and so amazingly perfectly that as mothers, on some level we are mothers to all children everywhere, and you wrote/prayed “To her. To her. To her.” That one has stuck with me in the months since.
Thank you and the whole TME for what you bring to the world. Happiest holidays to you all!
My little guy decorates the tree by grouping like ornaments together instead of spreading them out because “the nutcrackers are a family and they want to be with their family”. So there is a cluster of those, a cluster of candy canes, a cluster of the hand-sewn birds his grandmother made and passed down to us, etc.
We just got back from a heavenly week in Stowe and are planning to go next year too and stay through Xmas next time. Being in a magical winter wonderland was something I never experienced as a kid growing up in the South, and I love the idea of creating that tradition for our boys.
Stay safe on the slopes!
This one gave me goosebumps. This is why I read your blog. And you & I wear the same size. Where else might I find both in one blog?! Happiest holidays to you and your family.