the REAL Christmas letter....

And the tradition continues.One year me and my friend were talking about annual “Christmas card letter”, which is a dying tradition I might add. I’ve only gotten a couple this year. And for the most part it is a tradition that I’m happy to see die. Although I still like getting real mail for a change, rather than just bills and junk mail.  (here is the first one).

I digress, well, my friend had been having a particularly rough year and we laughed about how people would react if we were to send out REAL letters. Not just the highlights but the lows too.
Today I finally mailed some of my Christmas cards. I say some, because I am positive that I forgot no less than 20 people. I don’t have an address book because I am pretty sure that is what google is for.
And I didn’t include a letter, because lets be honest, a girl who can’t get it together enough to mail her Christmas cards before Christmas certainly can’t be boethered by things like having having printer ink cartridges in her house.
It is hard to believe that another year has already passed. Because at this point they are all starting to blur together. I swear. We just took down the Christmas tree….and then we were putting it up again. (and now it is daunting me again to take it down. And maybe I will. Someday possibly even before Easter).

Last year about this time, I couldn’t quite finish my first 5K of the year without stopping for a walking break. That might have something to do with the fact that I talked way more than I ran, but still. Just last week I ran 13.1. no breaks. And I’m not new to running. But I’ve turned it up a notch. And everyday my legs feel a little bit stronger. And that maybe I can go just a little bit further. And I’m feeling stronger inside too.

This summer me and Shaun celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. And went to Seattle which I loved. For lots of reasons. First, it was a million degrees here all summer and it was a good 30 degrees cooler there. Second, lots of coffee and seafood and street performers, Third, a spontaneous 8K followed closely by Pirates vs. Clowns parade led by Drew Carey and a husband who rolls with it. And last and most importantly, not a single kids meal or movie with a G rating. Ten years of marriage, 2 kids that look just him and I still can’t figure out where he hides my socks or why he can’t put the lid on the toothpaste and especially how he puts up with me. But I’m hoping for at least another 50 more.

Owen graduated kindergarten and got the same paper certificate that everyone in his grade did to prove it. I couldn’t have been prouder. Except maybe if he knew how to tie his shoes.  He also amped up his soccer game. Somewhere he got the idea that if he scored a goal he could go eat at red lobster. What 5 year old eats lobster. Mine. Although we have convinced him that Joe’s Crab Shack and Pappadeux are much better choices. And that shrimp are just really tiny little lobsters. And a whole heck of a lot cheaper.
Kindergarten was a bit of a struggle for Owen. He could never seem to stand still in line, not talk at lunch and was banned from dancing at show and tell. We made the decision to change schools. Partly because I was afraid they’d make me medicate him if I kept him there and partly because I never quite learned how to maneuver the pick up line. First grade has rocked. He is reading chapter books. Adding and subtracting like a TI-83 and winning citizenship awards. He has the hots for his teacher as well as a few other girls in his class. I’m just glad he is keeping his options open. And in addition to soccer, he has a new extra curricular activity that I initially signed him up for to piss off my husband and entertain myself. Hip Hop. And my boy has moves like Jagger.

Speaking of dancing. Tess has found her calling. Even though I had Owen signed up for little gym and swim lessons and hopped from one activity to another all before he was one, I decided to wait with Tess. Until strangers would stop me in resturaunts and grocery store  (maybe because she was dancing in the aisle) and tell me we HAD TO SIGN HER UP FOR DANCE. STAT. She has more tutus than I have pajama pants and is the most intense tiny dancer I know. Her first public performance turned out to be a surprise solo. I though surely she would chicken out and instead, nailed it. I wept like a baby and she soaked in every ounce of applause.  We wrapped up the terrible twos only to enter the even more terrible threes.  She is still feisty, introverted and butts heads with her daddy like she is already sixteen, ditching classes and stealing his beer. Instead, she is flashing the preacher at Christmas Eve service and covering every known surface in our house, car and her body with marker or pen. I’m sure this girl has a sharpie stash somewhere and maybe I should ditch the whole dancing thing and sign her up for art camp. or maybe let her join one of those gangs that goes around tagging public places.
Tess is still all girl. Loves dresses, shoes, Justin “beaver” and I think knows how to apply make up and paint her toes better than I do. She still however, barely has enough hair for a ponytail and wets the bed. Hopefully by this time next year she will have had her first haircut and be sleeping in big girl panties. Hopefully she will never correctly learn how to say blanket, because my heart melts a little everytime she asks me to get her “blanklet”.

My winter-spring was spent playing practical jokes, eating cupcakes, making new friends, visiting old ones, running really slowly, one more tattoo and drinking too much wine. My summer less jokes, more wine. I picked up the jogging pace a little. Beaches. Mountains and lots of swimming pools and driving kids around. Autumn I wish I could erase from my memory, but so far winter is looking up. I had a pretty crappy fall. And I don’t mean tumble, I mean the entire season. Nothing was especially bad going on, except for a 4 day stay in the relaxing local hospital for some minor organ failure (so long gall bladder and good riddance!). Shaun traveled a TON, marriage, friendships and work all just seemed hard and draining. And even though this is the REAL Christmas letter, I can’t let it end like that. It is barely winter again. The temperatures are dropping, but everything else seems to be looking up. Shaun got a raise and hasn’t traveled in months. And those other things are all getting easier. Plus, there isn’t so much I can’t run out. And if not, we just crank up the tunes in the living room and Owen and Tess show me their new moves. And Shaun laughs, or holds the camcorder or goes and watches Star Wars in the other room.
not enough reality for is last year's letter.

that's what it's all about

“I know what Christmas is REALLY all about.” my firstborn touts proudly while we are piled on the bed waiting for the pediatrician to call back.
“You do? What?”
(and I really think he does)
“Everyone being together he says with a proud grin.”

And I know exactly where he got the answer. In the corny Barbie Christmas special movie preview that we had just watched before the movie started.

“No Owen. It isn’t”
And his face falls and he looks so confused.
Because being together sounded like a really good answer.

“Giving!", he tries again.
And on Sunday when I picked him up from our version of kids church, he was one of the last kids there….b/c maybe I was chatting and lost track of time (surprise). And one of the volunteers ask if I am “Owen’s mom”. I say yes, and another woman rushes over. They both gush and tell me that they have to tell me what my kid did that day. One of them says he made her cry. I’m a little afraid of where this conversation might go. She says she made him get up on stage (and it is a big stage and a big crowd) and I finally think I know which way this is heading and asked if he had been dancing again. Because my kid has some moves and is not afraid to use them in public. She says no and keeps talking. She said they were talking about presents and what everyone wanted for Christmas…and my son says “that he really likes giving presents”. I laugh out loud and say she should see his wishlist! But she says no, that he said he liked giving presents more than getting them so they pulled him up on stage to say this and ask why. And he says because it makes people happy. This really means that he especially liked giving his first grade teacher that he is a little bit hot for flowers on Friday. But I am still pleased. And beam a little because I have been trying to teach my kids over and over that Christmas is not THEIR birthday after all.

But I still say “No. not giving”
Although it is really nice to give. And family is pretty important too.
And he sits there stumped for a minute. I resist the temptation to lecture or answer for him and a few long seconds later he says, “Oh yeah. It’s when Jesus was born”

And I think plenty of us can be talked in to really good reasons for this season.
Like family. And giving. And Christmas cards. And plays. And baking. And parties. And charity. And decorations. And cookies. And Justin Beiber’s version of Santa Claus is coming to town (one of Tess’s favorites).
And somewhere at the bottom of the list and busy and outings and wrapping paper
We say,
“Oh yeah. Jesus”

And I haven’t been the most productive girl this season. My Christmas cards haven’t been mailed. I haven’t wrapped a single present. My kids have seen the pediatrician more than they have Santa. We forgot the advent candle. I did make some sweets for the neighbors but I ate some of it for breakfast instead of delivering it. Our tree is up, but the lights never made it on the roof. We have run from party to recital to event. I am far from attempting the perfect season and all I really want for Christmas is a nap.

I am worn out and just see the list of things I should be doing replay in my head over and over. Wrapping, shopping, baking, mailing, cleaning, watching defensive driving (ok, not exactly Christmas-y but something I need to do) and maybe I have forgotten too.
And I sound just like my six year old after getting it wrong the first few tries.

“Oh yeah. Jesus”
My list can wait until at least New Years.
(which just might be when you get my Christmas card!)

the dance

The music blared.
Like usual. Today it was Christmas music.
An older black man danced near the speaker.
Freely. Like no one was watching. Even though dozens were staring at him like he was crazy.
Most likely because he was actually crazy.
But he just kept smiling and dancing like he was at some party instead of in a park.
A homeless park.
In the cold.

A slower song came on and he acted like he was dancing with a partner. Even though it was still just him.
I watched from the side. Along with the rest of the others.
My friend, said, “if I was braver, I’d go dance with him.”
I’d already had a similar thought I just hadn’t voiced it.
A few seconds later, another volunteer walked up and said the same thing.

 We come here. Once a month or so.
To pass out food and more importantly conversation.
But on Saturday, I did more than hand out food.
I broke bread.
I passed out communion.
I wiped a sweet toddlers runny nose.
I picked up some trash.
I ate with a man named Allan. From Alabama. And I listened to his story.
Not caring how much was true and how much wasn’t.
I mingled and smiled and hugged.
But most importantly,
I danced.

(and I'm having a hard time embedding you tube these days...but click here for one of my favorite christmas ... or just about anytime songs....