A long December

Oh December, you really snuck up on me, didn’t you? I swear it was just November when I last posted … more than two weeks ago. Oops. I’ll spare you the excuses and cut straight to what we’ve been up to, and what we’ve got coming up.

Thanksgiving ended up being really great. We’d planned to drive all day down to Redding on Thursday, but when we woke up Wednesday morning to frozen pipes and hence, no running water (after I’d not showered in two days), we quickly decided to get the hell out of dodge a day early. Which ended up being a brilliant, if not somewhat out-of-character, decision on our part. I think I had about an hour that morning to pack, but after three days of being stuck inside the house, I just wanted to hurry up and get on the road. We drove about half way that day to Salem, where we stayed the night in a motel, and then the rest of the way to Redding the next day, where we spent the holiday weekend with Roth’s grandma, parents, brother and Crazy Uncle Tom. It was a lovely break, and Rowan had a fabulous time with his grandparents.

Work for both Roth and me has been pretty nutty – and quite literally for Roth, who, I’m sure you remember, works for a nut company. (Heh.) He’s been working some odd hours, including a graveyard shift here and a Saturday shift there, as his company expands and increases their production lines, and he swears his erratic schedule is not going to become our new normal as they work out the kinks. I’m working regular hours, and usually this time of year is fairly quiet in the book publishing industry, but not so much this year. I’m responsible for coordinating a super deluxe, high-end Web site for a new division, and even though it’s technically considered one project, it’s many-layered and far more complicated than anything I’ve been tasked with before. Basically, it’s using up most of my brain power all day long, not leaving much left for anything in the evenings other than executing essential duties like making dinner and bathing and entertaining the boy.

Speaking of the boy, Rowan is less than a week away from turning two. TWO. I want to save a more detailed update about him to tie in with a birthday post, but in short: he is simply amazing. Every day, he surprises me with how much he already knows, how fast he’s growing, and how swiftly he’s becoming an actual PERON. Like, with his own thoughts and feelings and opinions and demands and imagination. Oh, his imagination is so wonderful.

I was on the fence about this, but we decided to go ahead and have a little birthday party for Rowan next weekend. It’s tough – and always will be tough – to celebrate his birthday so close to the holidays, but I think that’s why I’m hellbent on throwing him a party, even though he probably won’t remember it. I just want to make sure we start a tradition of making HIS day a special day, regardless of all the holiday hullabaloo happening all around him, you know? So, we invited a few friends and their kids over for an open house-style luncheon, including cupcakes, of course, and we’ll call it good.

This is the first year – well, not actually; Rowan’s first Christmas was spent at home, but he was a week old, and everything baby pretty much trumped anything holiday that year – we’ll be spending the holidays at home in Seattle since the first year we moved here. We usually spend Christmas with one set of parents or another down in California, but instead we spent Thanksgiving there and my mom and stepdad are coming up for a visit during New Years weekend. This means we’ll have ourselves a merry little Christmas at home just the three of us, and I have to say, I’m excited about the prospect of creating our very own family traditions. Rowan may only be two, but he’s definitely aware that something is a-brewing, starting with all the “Chripmas!” lights we see on our commute home. Additionally, Daycare Lady puts up a giant, flocked tree – and she swears the kids don’t even dare touch it, which just blows my mind – and I’m pretty sure she’s the one who taught him about “Sin-ta … Claws,” as he says when he sees any old man with a scraggly white beard. (He was convinced Leon Russell on CBS’ Sunday Morning was, in fact, the guy in the red suit, and he was so excited! Ha.)

We totally intended to trek over to the mountains to one of those cut-your-own Christmas tree farms this year, you know, for the full-on experience, but the weather has been crappy with a chance of crappy, and we ended up picking put a pre-cut tree from a nearby nursery instead. Which is more than fine by me, now that I really think about it. It’s not like a tree we cut down is somehow better or any different than one someone else cut down a couple weeks ago, you know? They’re all … dead. They all shed pine needles all over the floor. So, why pay a premium, is what I’m saying. (Still, we paid way more than I wanted just to get a decent looking one. Sigh.)

So, I’ve never been a particularly festive or crafty person, but having a kid definitely ignites in me an unfamiliar desire to up the ante when it comes to the holidays. It’s amazing what a string of white lights does to one’s level of excitement, especially when seen through the eyes of a child for the first time. I find myself day dreaming of making an advent calendar and rick-rack trimmed tree skirt. I want to take Rowan to the holiday carousel in downtown Seattle and the Garden d’Lights in Bellevue. I want to spend Christmas Eve setting up the play tent we got for him, and filling his stocking with trinkets and treats.

And maybe what this is, really, is the desire to live vicariously through my son. Christmas has never been as fun and exciting as it was when I was three, four, five years old, and for many years, before Rowan, Christmas just felt like a bunch of manufactured joy. But now?

Feels kind of magical.



  1. I’m very excited for when our little guy is aware of the holiday season – probably starting next year. It WILL feel more magical. And as a fellow near-Christmas birthday, I know Rowan will always appreciate his parents’ effort to separate the two. (I think I told you that last year, too…)

  2. Christmas through a kid’s eyes is the best. Though last night we had to explain why Finn could not open the gifts under the tree yet. Presents are hard to resist!

    I am glad to hear you will be riding the Carousel. We’re working it next Sunday- the 5:45pm shift (which is probably too late for Rowan to be out).

  3. I think Christmas traditions are some of the most important of all family traditions. I still remember how my grandmother would bake cupcakes year after year so that we could put a single candle in one and sing happy birthday to Jesus before we opened presents. We haven’t done it in years, but we did it until I was probably in high school. (They also had a neighbor dress in a Santa suit every Christmas eve, and everyone would take turns on his lap, even the adults. The pictures are still some of the best I’ve ever seen.)

    All of my mom’s side of the family is going to be together for the first time in years this Christmas, and I’ve actually been thinking about re-starting that tradition this year, mostly because I think it would make my grandmother smile.

  4. Christmas really comes down to a family affair, ie, YOUR family if that is what is possible. Our best Christmas’s were with just you, Jimmy and your mom. Savor it, it won’t always be that pristine, calm, warm, and loving. See you on Skype!

  5. Jasmine

    Christmas is a wonderful time of year for me, and I think having McKenzie re-ignited that love of the holidays. I don’t allow myself to succumb to the usual stress and materialism of the holidays that those who don’t like Christmas talk about. It’s a day, your day, so make of it what you will. There’s no need to fear it or hate it. It’s corny, sure! but it’s magical and I love magic. :)

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