Things have been quiet on the blog lately, but not quiet elsewhere. I have been enjoying my family, my life, and the holidays and I am sure you will agree that there is tremendous value in that. But, I have missed you as well.
I am struck by this very specific time of year and how much there is – of everything. The number of catalogs arriving in my mailbox each day is staggering. Emails with special promotions and stocking stuffer ideas keep coming. Meanwhile, my breath is taken away by the small bits of beauty all around us from the twinkling lights to the look of awe in my children’s eyes as they experience something new.
As holiday preparations begin, we all are thinking about how to make this time special both for ourselves and for those around us. In our house we are striving for a “less is more” attitude, realizing that little people and big people can get overwhelmed easily and then some of the fun is lost. By staying loose and in the moment, we are working towards keeping the sanity. It is December 2nd and so far we are doing well, except for one thing…
I grew up going to the Frederick and Nelson department store each year and taking Santa photos with my sister. I’m sure at the time we hated it (sort of), but my mom was diligent about this task and dressed us beautifully each year. The attendants gave out candy canes to help kids wait patiently for their turn with Santa, and inevitably one of us would adhere said candy cane to our velvet dress. I remember that this tradition was important, but that my mom kept her head and sanity. The best part of all is that my mother kept these photographs safe and framed them for us chronologically. Now both my sister and I have sixteen years of our life together documented in a very tangible way. We put these frames up every year during the holidays and enjoy looking back at these years from our youth.
I have adopted this tradition with my own family. It is something that I enjoy doing with my mom and truly appreciate the extra hands-on help that she gives. We have gone to the downtown Seattle Nordstrom Santa for the past 5 years and have figured out a proven strategy for success. We go in the morning, mid-week, and my mom patiently waits in line, making friends with the helpful elves, until our entourage arrives polished and pressed. Then we wait in line, with coloring to do and cookies to eat until we reach Santa… This process has worked to varying degrees that usually start out with bravado and long lists for Santa and end in timid visits, with possibly a tantrum thrown in for good measure. All great. In fact, the crying photos are some of my favorites… after the fact.
In the past few days I have been tearing my hair out because I cannot lay my hands on these precious photographs. We moved homes a couple of years ago and then promptly started a remodel on the room that I can picture the photographs in. I know where they were in our old house and I can almost picture the box I stashed them in quickly as the last boxes were being taped up – but I have looked and looked and they elude me still. I know they are only photographs. My head knows this. I also know that I have my own snapshots of most of those years as well, as documentation that the event occurred. But, to my heart this does not feel the same. Believe me, I do understand that this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of life. But, I know how much I love looking at the photos of my youth each year and my children are getting to be of an age where I believe they would love this tradition as well. To see them overcome their fears of Santa year by year, to see their baby faces turn into the faces that will carry them through life. I will hold out hope. There is a possibility that these photos are in a very special place that I will come across some warm July day, while searching for sunglasses and feel that I have been given a gift. A similar thing happened with my wedding band a few years ago. I discovered that it was lost and figured it was gone forever. We even had my two-year old’s stomach x-rayed, wondering if he had swallowed it (nope). I almost gave up hope of finding this small ring of metal that could literally be anywhere in our house or beyond. It technically could be replaced, but not truly. Then, one random day, my older son found the ring in his underwear drawer. Stranger things have happened, I’m sure.
So, here’s to traditions – both lost and found. Wish me luck.