Most days I can hardly believe it’s really December, the sun is shining and we are outside without coats, soaking up every beautiful moment. All my memories of this month include snow and ice and mittens and that sort of stooped shuffle you develop to help you brace against the sleety wind without slipping on the ice.
Number of days we’ve worn winter coats: 1. We met a friend at a park early one morning and it was still pretty chilly but by 11 the coats and hats were shed and the sun was shining!
Number of snowflakes spotted: 0. Last month I heard a weather report on our local news explain that, in spite of a few chilly days, KY doesn’t usually have a measurable snowfall until January and even then it’s usually less than an inch at a time. I can honestly say I didn’t know snow did that.
Number of times Drew has whined about how cold he is: 0. (<– record breaking. seriously. He only just broke out his long underwear last week!)
Yesterday we went to the park in just our long sleeves (much to the raised eyebrows of our neighbors who were decorating their lawn while bundled in down coats, scarves and hats. But it was 68 degrees!) Kentucky, you continue to surprise us with your beauty, your sunsets, and your never-ending, most-glorious fall weather. I never expected to be so enamored with this place but I am in love!
Still, I miss the feeling of waking up to find the world quiet and blanketed in soft white. I miss the excitement of first flurries, of tuning in for storm reports that advise to stay home from work, drink cups of cocoa and cozy up for a whole day full of christmas movies. The winter of my bedrest was full of dreaming about snow-play with toddlers clad in A Christmas Story – style snowsuits, waddling around snow drifts, rosy noses and all. We had a little of that last winter but they were more blobs than toddlers, I so wish I could see their excitement and awe at the sight of a winter wonderland!
Next week we travel to southern California (chance of snow: 0%.) to visit my family for an extended Christmas break and my mom has told me to pack for all kinds of weather except: “It’s not really hot enough for shorts. I need a cardigan for most of the day because it’s just freezing when we wake up. It was 65 this morning!” [She seems to have acclimated to her new climate just fine.] In any event, the little fleece slippers that were meant to be christmas morning surprises for R&E might have to give up their suitcase spot for a few extra t-shirts and maybe even a swim suit because as far as I’m concerned, 80 degrees is beach weather!
In the midst of more change and travel and the everyday chaos of a holiday month, we have been pausing for a few minutes every night to light our advent candles and read together. Honestly, adding one more thing to our bedtime routine was not terribly thrilling to me but watching the twins look forward to it all day, eagerly pointing to the top of the bookcase that stores the candles and chocolate calendars and special wrapped christmas storybooks from Oma, I’m coming around.
In fact, I hope it’s something we’ll be able to continue into the new year. (I can’t imagine any day that wouldn’t be improved by a few beautiful flickering candles and some chocolate before bed, can you?) The twins are forcing our hand at becoming more disciplined and routined people and I am so glad. I need these centering moments. Of course, centering today means something quite different from the quiet hour of centering prayer I practiced each week in college…these days it’s more like calm-ish bodies snuggled up for a few pages of a christmas story, but this is every bit as much my center now as meditating in a quiet circle with other thoughtful adults was then. In this very in-the-moment toddler experience, all emotions and sensations demanding attention, I’m learning new things about what it means to wait and wonder and hope.
Of course, first they fight over which lap to back into and sticky chocolate hands grab at the book and each other. Someone is pinched, something is thrown, we both chime in with reminders to be gentle, drawing ‘our’ toddler deeper into our laps. While one of us reads a few sentences from the children’s bible the other one is doing crowd control, keeping grabby hands from hot wax and out of their diapers. There are no quiet moments for reflection and yet there are two little babies becoming people, experiencing the feeling of family and home and (my somewhat desperate) hope. And then we watch the candles flicker as little toddler huffs and puffs try so hard to put them out and I feel myself exhaling the whole long day, soaking in these last minutes of their joy.
The liturgy of toddlers is fierce and manic and exhausting and marked by tight hugs and tantrums and slobbery kisses and I’m realizing maybe it’s the same rhythm my heart has been beating to all along. Many days I miss the fullness of silence shared with friends who make space for listening together and yet, this loud wild love that R&E draw me into is too much and exactly what I need.