Updated: Dec 4, 2022
I am not dreaming of a white Christmas because I am living my dream. It’s a relatively warm December complete with outside lights wound halfway up pine and oak trees and over-the-top displays of Santa, snowmen and Merry Christmas Y’all signs adorning various shades of emerald-colored yards. This is home. This is Christmas.
In July, we drove through five states for our first big family vacation to Destin, Florida. Oh yes, it was the whole family in one condo. Imagine five adults and four kids ages six and under in tight quarters for roughly ten days. It was an adventure to say the least. I think we learned a lot about ourselves and what we would do differently next go around. Regardless, we had a great time with lasting memories. It was wonderful to see the cousins spend time together as they get along so well. We played at the beach and at the pool, saw dolphins, went crabbing at night, celebrated mom and dad’s anniversary, braved a pirate ship, and then we let all the kids get "tattoos". Okay, so the tattoos weren’t permanent, but it was fun watching my sister torture her youngest when she required that he have a tattoo airbrushed on like the older kids. I’m sure he’ll recover one day. On the way home, we spent the night in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of my favorite cities. The kids played instruments in Jackson Square and caught beads on Bourbon Street, but the highlight was running into Santa Claus during his summer vacation from the North Pole.
My daughter is a 1st grader now. She absolutely loves school and is doing very well as a result. I am quite proud of her. She is brilliant at reading, but is extremely good at math, too. I rarely have to ask her twice to do her homework, which is assigned nightly. She brings home math, reading and 15 spelling words to learn each week. In addition, she moved up a level in gymnastics, and is now in piano lessons and Daisy Scouts. She had her first piano recital on December 11 in which she performed “Up on the Housetop” and “Jingle Bells.” She has a full schedule by choice. I think it exhausts me more than it does her. She also got glasses and lost her first two teeth this year. She is my tan, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Texas girl. If the weather drops to 30 degrees for a day or two and she’s forced to wear shoes, she still wants to wear flip-flops. Typically, the shoes never make it out of the car that is parked inside the garage. This kid remains my shadow. Wherever I go, she’s there.
My son turned 4 in November and continues attending Montessori preschool. Because of his birthday, he will be there again next year. He’s ready to follow his sister to the elementary, though. Andrew is not as into school as his sister, however. He enjoys the social part of school, but the learning part is a negotiation. Seriously. He likes to tell the teacher, for example, that he’ll write his name one time and then he needs to take a snack or play break instead of writing his name six times to fill the front of the paper. If that doesn’t work, he might offer to write his name twice if she’ll let him take a break afterwards. He’s stubborn when it comes to writing and I foresee homework being a little more of a challenge with him. On Fridays, he continues to participate in Soccer Shots and he’s involved in gymnastics. On the whole, he dislikes food. To say he is a picky eater is an understatement, but he is always happy, unless Big Sister is annoying him, and he loves creative, independent play. He’s very much all “boy” and enters another zone when playing with his many swords, but he is still my sweet, cuddly Mommy’s boy, too.
As for me, I am in my second year teaching at the high school. I love it there! This year, I decided to take on seniors, which is a goal I’ve had for a long time, but the freshmen team still needed me, too, and I am glad because I wasn’t fully ready to leave them yet. I am teaching four senior classes and two freshmen classes and the balance suits me perfectly. I am swimming in British Literature and relishing every moment: Golding, Shakespeare, Dickens, Shakespeare, Chaucer. Did I mention Shakespeare? I also had two volleyball students, a freshmen and a senior, choose me as a favorite teacher this year to recognize at one of their games. I had to overcome a childhood fear of serving a ball over the net before the game. I think I succeeded. The moment was a blur. The girls each gave me a mini volleyball as a thank you. It was an honor. Outside of work, 2011 finally brought the complete closure to a chapter of my personal life and offered new perspectives on the world and people around me. In August, I flew up to Washington to help my best friend pack her belongings for her move back to Texas. Since her return, we’ve already visited one another a couple of times. This included an October trip to go with her to see the live tour of So You Think You Can Dance. I love that getting together with my closest friends and immediate family no longer requires a plane ticket.
What I've noticed is that when a chapter of a story is allowed closure, then normalcy and peace can return. I am so very thankful every day for learning this lesson and so many others along the way. It was a long, often very hard road, but I have found my place again, a better place than before, and it’s overflowing with gifts. I am a stronger, more independent woman. My closest friends will know my children, and I am able to spend every holiday with the people that mean the most, my family. I am home.