Here are some of the highlights of our month:
*Jeff and I went to a holiday party at the Boar's Head, courtesy of the UVA transplant team. It was a lovely event, and a very nice date. It was fun to dress up, for once, and enjoy some good food, good wine, and even a little dancing. The best part was that, despite being a transplant party, we managed to leave with all of our parts intact!
*Our playgroup held its annual cookie and book exchange, and the cookies only seem to get better and better each year. The kids each received a wrapped book - from Santa Claus - who came to pay us a visit! (This year, Leo did not scream while sitting on his lap - because there was no way he'd go anywhere near his lap! Oh well.)
*Sitting with Santa for the Photo Opportunity actually was quite fun, and Leo reluctantly agreed to sit with Santa once Aidan offered to hold his hand. Aidan was like a "bright shiny penny" when he first approached Santa, but in the photograph, he looks pensive... entranced, perhaps? Leo looks resigned to his lot in life - encouraged, but never out-done, by his big brother.
*The four of us went to see "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" put on by a local theater group. While we made sure to cover all the finer points of watching a production (sitting politely, clapping at the end, not talking, etc.) but we failed to cover possible "special effects" that might be used. Thus, the ONLY thing Aidan now talks about whenever anyone mentions the play is that he did not like the cigar smoke in the bathroom from Gladys. He did not like the smoke. He did not like the smoke!!! Aidan has a real fear of fire, and I think we just made it ten times worse taking him to a show featuring the baby Jesus.... and cigar smoke.
*All the moms in playgroup had their big night out at our favorite restaurant, Bang. We exchanged ornaments, funny stories, lots of laughter, and friendship. I say this a lot about the group, but it seems to become truer and truer - we started out as moms who got together for the enjoyment of our kids, and now we're friends who get together for the enjoyment of each other.
*Aidan's Preschool party was very sweet and more fun than anyone expected, really. Jeff and my parents all came to the party. The kids were very excited and so happy. Each class performed a song for the group, outfitted with hats corresponding to their song. Aidan wore reindeer antlers and sang "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and looked as proud as he could be. He was "in his element" at the party, excited to talk to his teachers and introduce us to his friends.
*Aidan and Leo enjoyed decorating a Gingerbread house with Grandma and Grandpa. Leo mostly enjoyed decorating the inside of his mouth with the candies, but the end result is still very cute.
*Tonight, we're headed to my parents' house for a little caroling-and-cookie thing. Our church music director has pledged to play "any song in any key," so I can't wait to hear how she performs one of Aidan's million made up versions of the classics - I'm coaching him on requesting one of his "originals."
*We're looking forward to a "tapas dinner" before church on Christmas Eve. I am playing my flute and singing during the service, and Aidan will be dressed as an angel as part of the gospel reading. We'll leave cookies and beer for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. And we'll hope, beyond all hope, that our children will be "nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads".... instead of the more likely version - being unable, unwilling to sleep for a single minute due to uncontainable excitement...
Overall, this Christmas season has been relatively stress-free and very happy. The enthusiasm of my children, especially Aidan, is positively infectious. I vividly remember how magical the time before - and during - Christmas felt to me as a child, and I do hope it feels the same for them. I appreciate, though, the difficulty that many people face at Christmastime. It can be a difficult time, for sure, with sadness and worries and disappointments clouding the time that is supposed to feel most joyous. Maybe, though, that is why I feel particularly grateful to be able to enjoy this season with these people, my family.
Merry Christmas to all! May you find peace and joy... and some delicious cookies, too.