Over the last few years, I've unwittingly started a tradition of celebrating Halloween with Christmas music. It all started with the first annual Halloween potluck at work three years ago. The food coma and socialization hit me hard, so I snuck out on a late break to drive through neighborhoods of old trees and white, midwestern bungalows to grab an orange cinnamon coffee at a coffee shop a few blocks away. I listened to Christmas music as I drove past green lawns covered with orange leaves. I repeated the drive (minus the coffee) last year, and this year I listened to The Oh Hello's Christmas album as I pushed the stroller through our neighborhood.
We're currently in the midst of a little Indian Summer, but I'm ok with that. It's nice to have another little bit of warmth before hunkering down for the winter. However, that didn't stop James and me from making beef stew on Sunday. November 1st just calls for beef stew and cornbread, no matter the weather. I was in a terrible mood I couldn't shake, so we went on a sunset walk and I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies even though I was more in the mood for pumpkin pie.
I feel like the spring cleaning bug has hit me again in the fall. I've been deep cleaning and wanting to purge again. I finally forced myself to pack away Gracie's newborn clothes and everything else she's grown out of. Her dresser was overflowing with clothes that no longer fit, and it was time to make room for fleece jammies and bigger, winter clothes. I packed our favorite outfits away in a plastic, turquoise bin that used to sit under my bed in my college dorm. It still has Target's "College '07" sticker on it. It used to hold pink and green seahorse sheets and blankets, and now it holds kitty cat onesies half the size of the owl onesie I just bought for her. Motherhood is comprised of so many seemingly small moments that all funnel into the larger concept of raising a child to be independent. I think about this every time I have to let go of an outfit that no longer fits her, or when I feed her solid food. They're all little steps in learning to let go of your baby. I had tears streaming down my face as I packed up her clothes, thinking about the fact that I can understand so much better why my parents were so sad when I left for college and how grieved they must have felt when I was living four states away. I checked my email that night, and there was an email waiting for me from BabyGap; my mom was sending us some Christmas pajamas for Gracie. She had no idea I had empty dresser drawers just waiting for some Christmas pajamas. Letting go of things is hard, but there are always good things ahead.
Despite the dreamy fall pictures, life is not always so dreamy. I am forever learning that life will probably never go as planned, and that's okay. The best things in my life have come when I least expected them. Sometimes it's really good to be blindsided by changes and opportunities and even heartbreak. But in the meantime, we're preparing for the holidays and enjoying this time of year. I visited my parents yesterday, and my mom showed me the design for Gracie's stocking. She designed a knitting pattern! I am forever impressed by her talents. I am so excited to see how it turns out because it is seriously impressive. It means so much to me that so much of what Gracie has was knit or crocheted or sewed by family and friends. There is just nothing sweeter. It's a tangible reminder of how many people love her and love us.
Even though it's in the 70s outside, I'm going to go wash her Christmas pajamas and pick out an outfit for her upcoming baby dedication at church. There are always good things ahead.