holiday magic

You would think that with some vacation days under my belt I would have posted photos, updated, written something, anything. There was a pesky little thing called Tuesday that interfered a bit in that. It's hard to get into that zen vacation, "I've got nothing but time" place when you have to work the day after the official observance of the holiday. It's whiney and annoying I know, but wah. I felt like I didn't actually recover from all the magic until I woke up to race to work Tuesday morning, leaving my entire family still sleeping snug in their beds. So, I've really only been on "vacation" since yesterday morning and I've already responded to one voicemail and four emails. Today is Thursday. Where exactly did my long looked forward to "vacation" go? I spent the better part of yesterday devoted to those gooey and sinful cinnamon rolls. Connor and I left to our own devices went and bought "gredient" and whipped through the first few steps. When the roll oozed butter, sugar, cinnamon all over the kitchen table, I excused the rest of the family to finish the job on my own. If this is the only thing I accomplish beyond spending great quality time with my amazing litte family, I think this "vacation" will have been a success.

Isn't it always the way? Weeks spent shopping, searching for free shipping coupons, writing lists, updating ridiculous holiday spreadsheets, planning perfect dinners, wrapping packages, moving an elf at 5:30 in the morning. Poof. Gone. Peter our Elf back to the North Pole with the big guy to rest up for the year. Paper ripped open. Exclamations of gratitude complete.

2011 was the year of McCashew Magic. Connor magically SLEPT. (Can I get an Amen on that one?) Caroline magically learned to skate and decided she is up for session II of Learn to Hockey in January! Steve magically disappeared before our very eyes. (Edited to read that Steve magically disappeared before our eyes with his magical weight loss. His interpretation was that it read as if he had walked away from us and well, he may be right. So three cheers for his hard work and ongoing efforts as there really isn't a magical way to lose weight!) We went to the most magical place on Earth and lived to tell the tale. (in truth, I cannot wait to go back) & this season, this magical mysterious joyful holiday season, was perhaps the very best one we will have. It will be hard to top. I mean, the kids even got their annual Christmas colds a full week early, paving the way for a fever-free Christmas. What better more magical gift could there be?

Caroline fully comprehended Santa and Baby Jesus and was just so stinking excited that I just about popped a blood vessel thinking of Christmas morning. On the Eve of the holday, we read traditional holiday stories, devoured an amazing gingerbread house together, and sat by a fire while we tracked Santa on NORAD's iPhone app. (Can you imagine the stories these kids will tell their own children one day? We all gathered round the family iPad to track santa's ride. really?) A sad, tearful girl who did not understand time zones absolutely lost it Christmas Eve morning when I announced the big guy was delivering to Australia was racing around the room in near hysterical laughter when I showed her he was in the UK; the only thing between her and Santa was the great big Atlantic Ocean. We elfed the house, Steve voiced uneasiness that there were not a lot of things to open. We have gotten burned in the past, so many little things to open that the kids distracted by new shiny things they cannot move onto anything else. I knew we would be fine with fewer things to actually open, especially when the big things were so perfectly wonderful. Balls for the king of sports. A dollhouse for the girl who loves to organize. We haven't actually seen her "play" with the house yet, she is enjoying rearranging the rooms in an endless cycle. Our kids are incredibly lucky, but we are the lucky ones, watching them grown up, watching the magic.

Here is our magical Christmas morning 2011. The real magic may be that she did not lose it when she did not immediately see the dollhouse.

Nutcracker Sweet

Is it me or are the holidays really flying up on us? The house is decorated, the tree is lit, the advent calendar chocolates are being consumed, Peter Chippey the Elf is currently sitting in the front window, and I am plotting out our attack plan for my family's Christmas Dinner this Saturday. The kids both know that the Hershey Kiss bell commercial is my all time favorite and we spend 30 minutes each evening watching Prep and Landing and/or Chippey/The Elf on The Shelf movie. Last night the kids sat side by side on the couch, arms behind one another, rubbing each other's backs. For the entire show. It was so cute it almost made me cry, to see my kids love each other so much. (We will just pretend that the fight over the Melissa and Doug cutting veggies that happened later didn't happen, k?) Boston Ballet's commercials get screams of excitement from Caroline, rivaled only by Connor's "BUUINS!" It wouldn't be the Christmas season with the Nutcracker would it?

I wanted to take her. I dragged my feet getting tickets because I knew my mother really wanted to accompany her and that it probably wasn't going to be possible this year because of extenuating circumstances. I knew this would make all of us sad. My mother spent most of her fall/winter Saturdays driving me to rehearsals, watching rehearsals, driving me back from rehearsals, setting my hair into Victorian style curls. I lived and breathed Nutcracker, even doing two seperate productions in one season. My daughter does not yet "get" that Clara is not a real person, that a performer is the Sugar Plum Fairy. She doesn't "get" yet that I did that, that I wore those costumes, did those dances. She will someday and I wanted to take her.

We invited my cousin Kristen to come along and I got a sweet deal in my inbox offering could not pass up tickets for Sunday night's show, third row stage right of the dress circle. All prettied up, curls in place, headband on, tights and adorable flats, we traveled into the city together. She was a perfectly behaved princess at our early dinner, eating nearly every piece of buttered pasta on her plate. She could not WAIT to get to her seat and pouted that she had to wait for the curtain. Kristen and I did our best to get her to "read" the program, sit nicely on her cinema seat. We could not pass up tiaras in the lobby on our way in and all three of us were "princesses" for the entire show, after battling the packaging, dear lord the plastic! It's now a "tiara tradition." Don't lose your crown Kris!

"Where is Clara!?" "Why did the mice go away?" "Is she a princess now?" "I really like that Drosselmeyer." I was prepared for her to lose interest towards the end and those cheddar bunnies I packed saved the day. She cried when we left, make a total SCENE tears, "I don't want to leave!" She spent intermission spinning and arabesque-ing and people asked me if she took lessons somewhere. "She doesn't, but I guess she should." Was The Nutcracker a success? YES!

We dropped Kristen off at her apartment, "I don't want her to leave!" "I miss Kristen." "Does she have TV in her apartment?"  We talked about her favorite part, "Clara." Her least favorite part, "The King Mouse." She bubbled over with excitement and energy all the way home, ohhing and ahhing at lights, jabbering on and on about the show and "Can we go again!?"

I tucked her into bed and thanked her for such a wonderful day. "Mommy, you make me so happy." No, YOU make me so happy baby girl. I will hold the memories of our Sunday night show from Linner to bedtime, and every detail between for the rest of my days.

I can't wait to watch the DVD copy of the show that will be hidden in her stocking with her.

Winter Wonderland

Why have we not been to this event at BC before?!? Santa, balloons, gingerbread houses, santa hats, a touch a truck. We had a blast and I cannot tell you how amazing it was to watch our previously Santa leary Caroline practically leap onto his lap. Of course, this followed a pee pee dance in the line that made me wonder for real if we would be THAT family whose kid peed on Santa. She was too excited to leave the line, "no Mommy, I just like doing this (pee pee dance)."

I highly suggest you BC Alumni go next year!

and then he showed me the picture of him and Jack Parker

Work is blowing up in my face. Again. Yesterday I was so worked up that I sent Steve a text, "I really need to talk to you." I knew he had a meeting at 10:00, but didn't expect it to still be going on at 1:30. He had to excuse himself, "my wife isn't very needy, so this must be important." I'm being TOLD, not asked, to make yet another concession, to stretch myself even more, and I am putting my foot down. The line in the sand is drawn and I'm calmer about it today, but still seething away below the surface. My attitude about my work was piss poor yesterday and that makes me sad because I care about my patients and their families and they deserve my best. They don't deserve a bitter, pissed off grump.

I visited a family in Brighton who I've only just met. It's another family who has connections to Steve's grandfather. One of my patient's son took some trips about 20 years ago with Dr. Grand McCashew and it was fun to establish a connection between them, sending word through Papa and getting word back. The patient had taken a turn, had taken to bed, the Nurse was questioning if she was transitioning, and she had not been comfortable having a conversation with the sons that this might actually be transition. I talked in hypotheticals, what ifs, reinforcing taking it day by day, reminding them that if their goal was to keep her home we would do all we can to make that happen, encouraging them to keep an open dialogue with us. We were in the dining room amid walls of photos from decades gone by - she is 104 after all, born in 1907, a century before my daughter. A century.

Photos faded from time and touch, and then the OTHER son showed me the picture of him and Jack Parker playing High School hockey together. "Great guy." I snorted. I couldn't help it. I reminded him, I was a McCashew, by marriage a Jerry York fan, by college education a Husky, and not exactly Parker's biggest fan. He pulled out his ticket to the BC/BU Hockey game tonight and said, "Did the Huskies or Jerry York send you a ticket, cause Jack sent me one." Well played. well played indeed.