Christmas is magical. Always has been. But Christmas with a baby? You see it all with a whole new sense of wonder. The lights are twinklier. The ornaments are bigger and shinier and redder and greener. Pine trees smell even better. Cinnamon candles, don't even get me started. We were late getting our tree up. I kept hoping we could get out to the tree lot on a little family date one night after work, but it just never happened, and before we knew it, it was halfway through December. I did, however, string some lights up on one of our beams for a gypsy-Christmas vibe. Then we met up with my parents one day to do some Christmas shopping, and they gave us a tree! It doesn't shed and it's pre-lit, which made justifying decorating for Christmas a lot easier. It's hard to get excited about spending three different naptimes getting all your Christmas stuff out, only to spend FIVE naptimes putting it all away in just a couple weeks. But not having to vacuum pine needles or dispose of a dead tree - that's the stuff a new mama likes. So the tree went up. And Henry was mesmerized with the lights.
Christmas itself was awesome. We had four different Christmas events, one with Conrad's family, one with my cousins, one with my grandparents, and one with just my family. Loot, I tell you. (A hint from a seasoned Christmas partier: when you get invited to a white elephant party, gag gifts are funny, but useable gifts are coveted. Wrap up a slightly burned candle or twice-used lotion and the ladies will be stealing them away from each other all night). La Verne is always really exciting on Christmas morning. The fire departments drive through all the residential areas and pass every house with a Santa on top waving to all the kiddies, and the firepeeps hand out big bags of peanuts with taffy and apples. We got to Skype with my brother who's on his mission in Bolivia. While we were talking to him, the firetruck drove by, but we didn't go out to see it on account of the Christmas phone call.
One of my very favorite things was seeing my Nana hold Henry. She adores him. He's the first great-grandchild that is descended from her (all the others are from her step-children), so there's something special between them. Four generations apart, he is one-sixteenth her. It's so beautiful to see her in her Winter, with her soft, wrinkled, tremor-stricken hands, holding him in his Spring, with his soft, tiny hands. That is their common denominator: softness.
But my very very favorite was talking to my brother. He's been gone for five months. On the one hand, it's been five minutes. On the other, it's been ten years. So much has changed, but hardly any time has actually passed. I was a whale when I hugged him goodbye. Henny and I were one. Now we're two. Ryan met his little nephew on that phone call. Henny won't remember it specifically, but it's a good start to teaching him who his uncle is so that he knows him when he comes home. I miss my brother so strongly. More than I thought I would, since I'm married and have a little family of my own, and haven't lived with him in six years. He's having an awesome time on his mission. He's fluent in Spanish and making amazing friends and having great influence over peoples' eternities. I've never had a Christmas without one of my siblings before, and I can't wait until we're all together again.
So much was given and gained this Christmas, and not just material things. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.