Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Greetings of Warmth and Light

May this season be one of joy for you and yours. May many wonderful moments light up this darkest time of the year as you rush from chore to chore (and as little as you can from store to store). Many people love and hate this time of year. I can understand the dislike, as everything "normal" either goes on as usual plus the rush, or is put on hold to give into the rush, either way, it can be a disruption, instead of a time of quiet contemplation and inward journey. 

But I love Christmas, it has always held mystery and magic for me. Now that I am a mother, even more so, as I watch the excitement grow in my little ones as they peel back the days of the Advent calendar and dream of Santa and snow. I love the generosity of their hearts, as they grow older, and imagine all sorts of ways to make another person happy on Christmas.

Solstice and its rites have taken on significance for us as well. The rebirth of the sun and the promise of the coming spring become more precious with each year that I am alive to witness it. I may love winter, but my bones feel the cold of it now, and dream of warmth and sunshine too.

Of course, timing, as they say, is everything. I often remind my impulsive children of this as they come up with an impossible request that would demand great amounts of any of the following; money, time or parental permission. "Wait until I am sitting down before you ask me if you can buy an iguana." "Give your father a minute to unwind after work, eat his dinner and relax. Then hit him with the idea of building a tree house... in January." Here is how our house is looking 3 days from Christmas this year:

Pierre (that's Daddy) has been in bed for three days with a fever and chills; the flu. The puppy has become completely fascinated with wrapping paper, scissors, tape and whatever I am attempting to wrap up in a spare second. Number of gifts wrapped so far: 3, same as the number of days until Christmas. Alienor, broke her retainer which has required 4 orthodontist appointments in less than a week. Lily left her retainer where the dog could and did find it and chew it to a pulp. One more orthodontist run. While supervising the building of our gingerbread house and making a potato omelette last night, I completely forgot the bread dough in the machine that was to provide the base for gifts to bake this morning and found an explosion of dough all over upon waking today. That last one is what led me to ponder timing. I was working up to one of those teachable moments, as the kids had asked something about chemical reactions this week. Here was a great example of a chemical reaction, and a poorly timed one at that. We could learn a lot from this! However, on second thought, I think I'll just skip the whole comparison with a nuclear plant and a leak. It may have seemed easier, for me, to contemplate them being on equal levels at the time. After all, the plant employees would be getting paid for their clean-up work and not under the same time constraint as a major holiday brings, but it would be inappropriate to compare the two in the children's young and impressionable minds as equal. The adults know which one was worse.

So, the good news, since this is the yearly update, is that everyone, with the exception of Pierre, is in excellent health. If you regularly read this blog, you may want to skip the following, but here it is for the patient and for the rest of you.

Lily, 15, my homebody, the one who never wants to go anywhere, is somehow busy with theatre, kung-fu, piano and writing two blogs; and one for her mentor:  She tried out her first archery lesson last night, and loved it. 

Aragorn, 13, was a great help, as usual, and got everyone to bed last night, with Alienor's help, while I was at the archery range with Lily. He still loves drawing and is doing an excellent job with his guitar playing. He played at church with his mentor, a couple of weeks ago. They did; "Teach Your Children Well," one of my favorites, and "We are Family." They were accompanied by the pianist, the choir and a drummer, a musical feast.

Alienor, 10, is in school to "try it out" this year, and loves orchestra, gym class and recess. Our house is filled with the lovely sounds of a first-year viola trying really hard for 30 minutes a day. Their holiday concert was amazing, truly. Alienor is the only one who does not love kung-fu, and this may be because she is dreaming of dance class. I dreamed of dance class too when I was little.  I wonder if Santa would bring me a chauffeur and extra set of wheels for Christmas.

Arthur, 7, is a star in his kung-fu class because he is the only one who can easily do as many finger-tip push-ups as his teacher. When he is asked to lead this part of the teen class, they all groan (silently, of course) because they know he will give them at least 20. The rest of the time? He plays, listens to Geronimo Stilton books on tape, and hangs out in the geology museum, asking questions about dinosaurs and rocks.

Puck, 4, likes to color and paint and make lego projects with his older brothers. He loves his morning cuddle with his puppy on the sofa at 6am, when they are both too tired to be up, but don't want to be alone. The bike path through the woods is his favorite place for a walk. He loves the library too, because he can watch the fish swim and check out books about anything.

Pierre has become a fabulous guitar player over the past year. He began two years ago, knowing nothing, just like Aragorn, and has practiced his fingers off. He's learned a lot of folk songs and oldies, and is learning "Patience" (Guns and Roses), just now. I love being serenaded as I knit. And I knit as much as I can. Any road trip is a great excuse for two things; knitting in the car and finding an undiscovered yarn shop. Pierre heads for the bike shops in the same situation, as the avid commuter biker has become a bike geek. 

The reason there was no Christmas letter last year is not that I did not write it, but rather that I never got around to sending it. I began working outside the home for the first time in 14 years last December. At first, it was overwhelming, as the job stemmed from a phone call for a French interpreter at the hospital the night before they needed someone. It was all new; time management, one-vehicle family organization and the demands of working again in a new job. I love it! I love the people I meet, both English and French-speakers. I enjoy the actual interpreting in both medical and legal fields, with the occasional different assignment thrown in. I get to go to surgeries, mental health appointments, orthopedics, court (all sorts), and my favorite; births! I have reduced my work to one day a week, which satisfies family needs and professional ones to a lesser degree, but my little ones need me for now and I am happy I can be home with them. Interpreting is what I trained to do and the career I had planned for, so it seems about perfect that I can do both now.

We send you our warmest greetings and wishes for a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year!

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