Can you believe we’re a week away from Christmas (and Hanukkah!)? Every year, it sneaks up on me and every year I try to get started with everything — shopping, planning, decorating — a little earlier so that, in the final days of the holiday season, I can be present and slow down and enjoy the spirit of the season instead of rushing around in a panic trying to tackle my to-do list. Ha. That damn to-do list ain’t never gonna get done. So, this year I’m giving myself the gift of being perfectly imperfect and incomplete. Cards will go unsent, and cookies may go unbaked. But Jackson and I will continue our new tradition of spending Sunday afternoons together just the two of us doing something fun. (Two weeks ago I took him to Bryant Park where he got to ride the carousel and then we looked at decorations along Fifth Avenue. Last week we went to the Guggenheim, where his school has a partnership that allows students to take art workshops with artists-in-residence there. Maybe this weekend I’ll take him to the Christmas Market in Union Square or Central Park and we’ll drink hot chocolate and look for a topper for our tree, which he says we really need. Call it a coincidence or maybe a Christmas miracle, but since carving these hours in the week to be present and focused solely on him with no distractions — a challenge for any busy parent of more than one kid! — his behavior, with only a couple exceptions, has been pretty wonderful.
And then there’s Joanie. Sweet Joanie May. Who has, for the last few weeks, been transitioning at the speed of light from babyhood to full-on toddlerdom. She was a breeze of a baby to raise, and the first 12-14 months of her life were like a dream to me. In many ways, I felt healed after the experience I had raising a baby who was… well, let’s say, not as easy-breezy and left me feeling like maybe I wasn’t such a good mom (I’m fine, it turns out). But I knew that even the easiest babies become toddlers and there’s no toddler alive who doesn’t provide some challenges for his or her parents. And so, here we are. Suddenly, Joanie is willful and stubborn, the tiniest little angry bird you ever saw, throwing herself on the floor and pounding her itsy fists and kicking her legs and howling over who knows what. Sometimes it drives me crazy, I’m not going to lie, but mostly it’s pretty funny. I mean, she’s so tiny and angry! And I know this, too, will pass. And I will miss it. Well, some of it, anyway.
And then there’s my Drew, who’s been my Drew now for over ten years, and sometimes we still pinch ourselves that we were lucky enough to find each other. But ten years is ten years and time, as much as it’s brought us closer together, has changed so much. We’re not the same people we were when we met, and we certainly don’t live the same lives as we did back in 2006 when everything was a little easier, even despite the physical distance between us. And so we practice what I preach: We carve time for each other. We make each other a priority. We show appreciation. Tomorrow night we’ve got a sitter coming and I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do except that it will be just us, a week before Christmas, a night on the town. As much as things change, they stay the same, too.
To hell with the to-do list, the cookies, the cards I haven’t sent. This year, more than any other year, I feel the need to take stock of what’s most important, feel gratitude for the gifts I have, and spend time making memories. Last weekend, on our way home from the Guggenheim, Jackson and I switched subways at Union Square where there’s a whole wall of Post-it notes as a type of post-election group therapy (the Historical Society of NY is apparently is going to preserve the Post-it notes). I explained to Jackson that these were notes of love and hope and he could write one if he wanted to. I handed him a Post-it note and a pen and he sat and started writing. When he was done, he handed it me to stick on the wall.
“I love the holidays” it said.
What a nice reminder that despite the craziness and devastation in the world, there are pockets of peace and goodwill, and reason to hope.