We had a very quiet winter break. Two weeks at home. A few days before school got out, on 12/19, I joked to a friend that while some downtime sounded good at that moment I was also pretty sure we’d all be at each others’ throats within a couple of days. I’m happy to say I was wrong.
Last year Grace made a scavenger hunt for Matt and me which brought home how meaningful the smallest moments can be. This year, the universe gave me the same message again.
We made Christmas cookies and our Advent candle burned down to a stub. We saw our family, both those we were born into and those we’ve chosen through dear friendships, in the days leading up to Christmas. It is my family’s tradition to celebrate Christmas Eve with Ethan‘s family. This family was one of the cornerstones of my childhood and they remain very important to me. Grace and Whit both used a saber to take the top off of champagne bottles, we sang Christmas carols, and we talked at dinner about the world, travel, photography, gratitude and love. On Christmas Day both of our children slept in and Whit came racing downstairs at 8:30 and asked, without hesitation, “where’d you put my book?” Not: can I open presents? But: where is my book? If there is a pinnacle of motherhood for me, that might have been it. I had had to take away The Phantom Tollbooth the night before when I busted him reading it by headlamp at midnight.
On Christmas Day we saw my parents for present-opening and then Matt’s parents and brother and family for dinner. After that the four of us went for a walk in the cold, clear darkness. We walked around our familiar neighborhood, and I felt a deep sense of contentment take root inside of me. This is Christmas, I thought to myself (that’s when we took the photo above).
We went skiing for the day, enjoying warm temperatures but working hard to avoid the rocks poking through the thin snow cover.
We went to a Harvard hockey game which was great fun, though I was shocked by the negative cheering and booing of the other team’s fans, among whom we sat.
We spent a lot of time at home. I did some work. Grace and Whit read books, enjoyed their Christmas presents, watched movies, did a lot of skating, and played with friends who were also local.
The outrageous, saturated blue of the sky and an Instagram from Kelle Hampton made me think of these words from Barbara Brown Taylor, which I love.
On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated as a foursome, as has become our custom. We had a nice dinner by candlelight, played a family game, had brownie sundaes, and watched a couple of episodes of Modern Family. Matt and I went to bed before 11 and Grace an Whit stayed up to watch the ball drop. The next day they told us that Grace heard a noise downstairs that made her nervous so Whit came down (his bedroom is a flight up) with his foam sword and shield to protect her. The heart palpitates at the chivalry, no?
New Year’s Day dawned bright, clear, and cold. We drove to one of our family’s truly holy places, and walked on the winter beach. Grace and Whit slept in, so it was later than it is often is, which means we weren’t alone on the beach. We watched people dashing into the freezing water and dogs prancing along the frozen sand through eyes that watered from the cold wind. I photographed our shadows. We didn’t stay long, but it was gorgeous.
It was a lovely, full, empty two weeks. Full of love and empty of expectations. Maybe that combination is the secret of life. I cracked my shins on altars regularly.
Get Lindsey's thoughts on mindful living and parenting in your inbox