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December 18, 2014

FROZEN ON ICE

Last week, she came downstairs to find a new dress draped across a chair in the living room. A dress with a black bodice and a blue skirt adorned with flowers and a pink cape, a dress worn by Princess Anna of Arendelle that she would wear later in the day as we attended Disney’s Frozen on Ice. Our hall pushed her into our living room where her Elf (Plum) sat with the dolls she begged for and received months ago on either side and the dress in front of him as if he delivered it himself (because he did, of course) and the look on her face was merely foreshadowing the joy it would express in a few hours.




We went on with our day checking various items off our to-do list while she played in anticipation until it was finally time to watch an Ice Queen unleash her magical powers. We arrived to snow flurries courtesy of hidden snow machines tucked into the rafters of the entrance and we knew immediately this was a completely different show than we came to see last year. We made our way through the crowd and found our seats and once we were settled she turned to her mother and me and told us this was the best day ever.




The show started with mention of famous love stories as told by Disney and with every recollection the characters found their way to the ice, couples from tales we know all too well. Ariel and Snow White, Cinderella and Tiana, each princess with her prince appeared and we watched as her face lit up like her best friends all revealed their hiding spots in the best game of hide and seek she’s ever played. Just as quickly as they came, they went and the story that consumed our lives for the last year unfolded in person.




The songs she’s fallen asleep to every night since seeing the movie filled the room with a warm contrast to the chill of the icy powers displayed in front of us. A snowman was built and given a sense of humor. A sisterhood was broken and repaired. An ice castle was constructed from the palms of an emancipated queen. The lyrics to Let It Go surrounded us as every child in attendance, my own included, sang at the top of their toddler ranges in unison while the woman in glittering blue highlighted by a single spotlight twirled and jumped with the same inflections the vocal performance provides.




Her mother and I couldn’t decide which to watch -- the show we bought tickets for or the look on her face, the look of a dream coming true. She squeezed my arm with one hand while pointing with another and my eyes watered without warning, a side effect of fatherhood I’ve now come to expect. This day last week, the day she saw a princess and a queen that oddly feel like household names within our four walls, really did seem like the best day ever. That Olaf may be on to something, maybe true love really is putting someone else before yourself... such is parenting I've discovered.

December 10, 2014

HOME SWEET [GINGERBREAD]HOME







Last weekend we built our first gingerbread house. We glued the four walls together with icing then added the roof allowing ample time for drying before we layered on the gum drops and candy canes and tiny candy pieces. It was agreed that Madison would be allowed full creative freedom in decorating this masterpiece, this house built of memories in the making for a tradition we anticipate maintaining for years to come.

She pointed with a chubby finger where she wanted the door to go and her mother outlined it in icing while she stuck the striped sticks on top. She pointed with that same tiny finger where she wanted the doorknob to be and her mother dotted it with icing while she stuck a purple piece of candy in place. We drew windows where she wanted and we filled them in with a random pattern of colored candy spheres and we drew a wreath doing the same with a gumdrop in the center.

Several pieces were dropped in the process and I kept reminding her to be careful because for every piece she dropped was one less piece we had to use on the actual house. She placed numerous yellow candies side by side and I encouraged her to mix it up so there was some sort of color variation throughout. She accidentally stuck her hand in the freshly squeezed icing her mother piped onto the roof and I lifted her wrist to avoid getting it all over the table and making a complete mess.

It was then her mother, my wife, reminded me to enjoy the moment. It was then I realized “full creative freedom” somehow became conditional and it was then I apologized while calming the internal struggle of controlling the situation, of the self-imposed OCD and the desire to make everything perfect. It was then I knew years from now when looking back at this moment, the dropped pieces and the smeared icing and the inconsistency would be what I smiled about the most… not the actual house. 

It was then I let go and enjoyed the process making sure there was plenty of candy leftover to eat once the house was completed. In the end, these little moments of living and learning and finding better versions of ourselves is what makes life so sweet.

December 3, 2014

PEACE, LOVE, CHRISTMAS


There was a time where brushing her teeth before bed was a struggle yet now she can practically handle the task on her own. Nightly, we motion through the ritual of combing the day’s knots from her tangled curls and slipping her ever-growing limbs into a fresh set of pajamas before she crawls under the sheets of her bed (sometimes ours). We thank God for the blessings He gives us, for the blessing she is to us and we say goodnight. Her mother and I take the steps one toe at a time until the tree occupying a corner of our home invites us with the smell of pine into the living room, we take our favorite spots and we sink into them embracing the silence. We smile. We laugh. We listen to the rhythm of her inhales and exhales through the static of the monitor, the most comforting of Christmas carols.

Peace… the noise one seeks in silence.

The glow of the Christmas tree provides the only physical source of light in the room while the memories we’ve made under this roof of ours outshine the tiny bulbs in sheer volume. My wife and I catch ourselves staring at the ornaments instead of the television, each one telling a story all its own. Shiny spheres and glass figurines we purchased together. Crystal hearts and icicles plucked from trees of our grandmothers’ past. Traditional ornaments. Whimsical ornaments. Ornaments that hold imprints of a baby girl’s hand and foot from her first Christmas when walking and talking seemed like distant obstacles and not mastered feats. Ornaments that represent a life we’re building together, a tree inhabiting bits and pieces of the lives we combined, a glow illuminating the house we’ve made a home.

Love… the brightest source of light in the darkest of corners.

Her excitement was contagious and unmatched when we started pulling out the boxes of decorations. She encouraged us to hurry so she could help select branches for the strings of her favorites and she sang along to the songs crackling from our speakers. She exchanged words she forgot for words she made up and she passed on boxes her tiny fingers couldn’t open to focus on the distracting glisten of glitter in bulk. We returned our stockings to their reserved spaces on the mantle and mentally explored the option of adding another in time. We huddled together after it was said and done to soak in the joy that comes with the holiday and before we shoved wrapped gifts around the bottom, we filled the tree with our presence instead.

Christmas… the most wonderful time of the year.

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Here are a few posts from last Christmas, if you're interested.


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