A quiet break, the Phantom Tollbooth, skiing on rocks, a foam sword, and New Year’s Day at the beach.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Welcome, 2015!

 


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14 Comments

  1. Posted January 7, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    The small things are the best things. And better yet, when we can figure that out, sooner rather than later.

    Here’s a recommendation: next time, go to a Harvard women’s hockey game. They are exceedingly good. They don’t fight (not that they don’t play tough) and they don’t constantly tie up the puck. And it’s joyful, to watch their plays develop. It’s a bit like watching women’s pro tennis, which is strong and skillful, vs men’s, which is all brawn and power. Also, the women’s games are sparsely attended–mostly family members, roommates, and peewee girls’ hockey teams who come en masse to eat popcorn and dance for the big screen. Much jollier.

  2. Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    “It was a lovely, full, empty two weeks. Full of love and empty of expectations.” I love that. Our break was very similar – we did enough but not too much. We took things off the schedule a few times. I thought the kids would be climbing the walls, but I was pleasantly surprised:) No expectations. That should be my 2015 mantra! xoxo

  3. Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Beautiful! Miss you all! Happiest new year to you and yours. xo

  4. Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Reading on Christmas morning, a walk around your familiar neighborhood, sounds in the night, the chivalry of a protective brother, a winter beach…mundane, meaningful memories all. Just perfect. xo

  5. Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, all of it.

  6. Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year, Lindsey! The restful rhythm of your holiday shined in your words. xo

  7. Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    L O V E this quote by Barbara Brown Taylor, Lindsey. I had not seen it before.

    “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?”

    Whit is the dearest little guy. Such gallantry! Rogues and rascals flee before the foam sword! xox

  8. Rita
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Sounds idyllic. I’m glad you had such good time with those you love.

  9. Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I love hearing about these moments. And what a great one to have to bust him reading too late!!!

  10. Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey I love everything about this. From Whit reading by headlamp (Oliver does it too) to the walk on the beach to the hockey gave and those gorgeous quotes.

    I have to admit a little guilt as in college, I was one of the fans calling Harvard’s goalie a sieve and a vacuum and a black hole, and … shaking the keys and holding up newspapers. Terrible, but Cornell hockey games were such hedonistic delights.

    I hope your new year is as lovely as your Christmas. xoxo

  11. Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Sounds perfect. We had a similar break. It was wonderful. An empty calender but a full, happy house where we hung out in sweats and played board games, read, and spent time with each other. Just like this: “Full of love and empty of expectations.” Beautiful pictures and amazing quote. Love that. Happy New Year.

  12. Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    It hardly sounds empty at all – rather, full of all the best parts of life. Wonderful start to 2015!

  13. Posted January 8, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I love this… It was a lovely, full, empty two weeks. Full of love and empty of expectations. Maybe that combination is the secret of life….. Indeed I think it is. Our break was the same way and it was just perfect. 🙂

  14. Posted January 9, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, your words “full of love and empty of expectations” perfectly capture the feelings in my own heart these days. I love how our lives can be so utterly different, and yet there is this hallowed, common ground in the qualities we cultivate. Your description of your winter holidays is just beautiful.