I fear asking this will show my lack of refinement, and certainly cast a shady light on my upbringing; but couldn't I just have my caramel . . . unsalted? (Hush. Don't tell a soul I prefer it that way. I couldn't bear the sidelong glances and disapproving snubs.)
But wait! We've been drinking a lot of hot cocoa around here lately and I've discovered that I am a big fan of whipped cream on top. I hardly even give marshmallows a thought anymore (poor little dears).
I'm not sure where this leaves me. Whipped cream might be a tier above marshmallows in its classiness, but that blasted salted caramel is clearly more sophisticated.
In any case, I suppose I shall never be able to truly boast of a refined palate. Nobody cares about . . . an average palate. (And now that I've established that nobody cares about an average palate . . . and that that is, indeed, most likely what I have, it strikes me that I should move on from this topic with all due haste.)
I often fail at this, but, ever since writing my post on mothering (or homemaking or whatever it was) in mortal conditions, I've been trying to view the never-quite-perfect goings-on around here with more tolerance and acceptance. I've tried to be patient with the fact that an evening of holiday traditions will likely include at least one child whining, mess looming over me, two kids fighting, perhaps a moment (or two) of frustration and temper loss on my part, and probably an unanticipated cup of milk spilled in the middle of it all. I'm trying to be patient with myself and with us in all of this; trying to trust that Heavenly Father is pleased with our efforts and that good memories are still being made.
Last Christmas I remember feeling worried I'd done nothing to make it special because I never could manage large chunks of stand-alone magic and perfection, but, as I looked back over the season as a whole, I saw the beauty and brightness as they were – sprinkled nicely throughout the stressful and the mundane. I'm trying harder to recognize that happening as it does (rather than only discovering it “in retrospect”). In doing so, I've become more aware of some happy new developments in our home. My older kids are beginning to know our traditions well enough to often get them rolling (and occasionally fully carried through) before I've had time to consider how I'll juggle them amidst the demands of babies and dinner and bedtimes. Lights are taken out of my hands and wrapped around banisters, snowflakes are folded and placed in little hands eager to cut them, family treats are baked. And I find myself a bit startled over how on earth things I was only intending to get done . . . got done. (Daisy and Goldie are the ones generally deserving the most thanks.) It's a novel and lovely new thing.
Speaking of traditions: everyone was a bit put out last night when, upon walking into the tree lot, I spotted our tree immediately. “This is it!” I exclaimed, a mere 15 seconds into our arrival. “Look! It's our tree!” They all looked. And I knew that they knew, just as well as I did, that it belonged to us. But it was as if I'd told someone what a present was seconds before they'd opened it. Nobody was thrilled that I'd ruined the fun of the hunt. They insisted they needed to have a look around. I shrugged and followed them about (though nobody's hearts were really in the search – we'd already seen our tree after all).
It's home now. Undecorated. But standing happily in our family room. All 14 plus feet of it. And I can't help but fall a little in love with our Christmas trees each year. I impart human virtues on them and grow attached to them as I think up little storybook tales about all their years of growing and fretting that they'd never be picked only to finally be here. In a home. At Christmas-time. All done up in lights and bobbles. Wafting their piny scent through the house. Oohed and ahhed over by our kids. And generally filling the measure of their creation. Good little (big) tree.
The End. (For now.)
(Though I can’t help but add what I wrote on Instagram concerning that top middle picture of Abe in his bed: I still remember his first night in a “big boy” bed and how Mike and I watched him sleep and whispered about how crazy it was to think that someday he’d fill the whole bed.)