Christmas is descending upon us with its usual frantic pace, though the kids I'm sure feel that it couldn't be dragging its feet any more slowly if it tried. ("MOM, I just CAN'T keep WAITING for Christmas....) Well son, Christmas just can't wait for me, no matter how behind I am. And if anyone has read this blog for any length of time you'll know that as much as I love Christmas, as much as it fills me with giddy excitement, it totally stresses me out and occasionally depresses me at the same time for reasons that I've talked over so often in the past it's really not worth mentioning again. So let's just skip over the stresses and downers, because they will catch up with me every year no matter what, I'm guessing. Let's think instead about the lovely little gifts the season has given me already.
I recorded on television a random production of The Nutcracker. Some cable channel out there decided to play about six different versions of it over one week. Bitty had been talking about this ballet pretty consistently since her school scored free tickets for the entire student body to attend the final dress rehearsal of Ballet West's production. She's been talking about it so much, actually, that "a real nutcracker" made its way very pointedly onto her Christmas list and I found myself making one last, "no really it's the very LAST thing," purchase for her. So one evening last week I played the first little bit of the recorded production for my girls and magic ensued:
It was so grand to watch the two girls dancing together. They were in utter ecstacy. It reminded me of the many hours I spent dancing with my own sister. We too were inspired by The Nutcracker. We had these two dresses, both with very full twirly twirly skirts. One was brown with white rickrack, and the other was this kind of crazy multicolored print with a white blouse. We dubbed the brown dress our gingerbread dress and the other our sugar cookie dress. We would put them on, dance wildly with much spinning, then trade dresses and do it all over again. I seem to also remember that we developed the talent of getting changed into and out of these dresses in such a way so that no one caught a glimpse of our frilly white undies, though I don't remember quite how we did it.
Another gift of the season this year was the delivery of the neighbor gifts. This is the first year my kids were big enough to handle, not to mention get extremely excited about, me stopping at the curb of each house so they could jump out and take a treat to the door of a few of our wonderful neighbors. What a relief for me to not be getting in and out and in and out. And what a pleasure be with my kids, playing that I was Mrs. Claus and they my helper elves delivering presents. Afterwards we stopped at Wendy's for a peppermint frosty swirl, (my review is that they're yummy but expensive, plus they were declared "YUCKY" by a very distraut Bitty,) and then we took a double drive through Christmas Street which just isn't lengthy enough to satisfy after only one round.
Probably the best gift of the season so far happened on Tuesday night. I'm the enrichment leader in our ward, meaning that if our women's group gets together for a party or gathering on a not-Sunday, I am one of the organizers. For our Christmas gathering I thought it would be nice to not meet down in the gym and have a big old dinner - it's just not very cozy or personal, and really tough to decorate. So we decided to meet in the room where we meet on Sundays. We dimmed the lights, brought in a few strands of Christmas lights, and a beautiful creche display was set up on a table in front. We had a dessert buffet in the hallway on a table decked out with my Santa collection. The best part was the 15 white balloons I placed at the front of the room, each dangling a puffy white snowflake at the bottom of their ribbons so it looked like it was snowing at the front of the room. It looked great. More importantly, we had the most awesome program. Several sisters sang breathtaking solos, we heard some great stories, and we all enjoyed singing carols together. Beautiful. Wonderful. And it was more than that - the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. All those wonderful elements added up to a feeling of pure peace and joy so strong it was nearly tangible in that special room. It was an evening that has so far made my Christmas and will last in my memory forever.
Thank you, Christmas, for your lovely little gifts so far. Today is the last day of school for the kids and hopefully we can enjoy the break and celebrate this wonderful year we've had! Merry Christmas, everyone!