There's a line from O Holy Night that goes "A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn," and it has been running through my head the past few weeks. It feels like my anthem lately. We are so weary, but there is still hope and joy. Our tree is janky and could desperately use a few more strands of lights. Some of it is full and bright and cheerful, and some is dark and full of gaping holes. It perfectly resembles life right now. I have a tendency to throw in the towel the second something goes wrong. It's one of my least favorite qualities about myself, and it's something I've really been working on lately. I jolted awake yesterday morning and panicked when I saw how bright it was. James forgot to set his alarm and was late for work, and Gracie's babbles in the next room had failed to wake us. I woke up feeling like I was coming down with a cold and had to cancel plans, the toilet wasn't working, and James texted to say he had to work late tonight even though he was supposed to have the night off. It was dreary and cold outside which perfectly matched my mood. But later on, Gracie was playing on the floor, I was drinking some coffee, and I looked around the room at the Christmas lights and decorations and thought about how silly it is to let little things get to me when things could be so much worse. Devon emailed me later that afternoon and mentioned in passing that things can always get worse, and it was just the encouragement I needed to not dwell on small inconveniences. Especially when there's a sugarplum with a ponytail shaking her kitty cat rattle next to me.
We dedicated Gracie at church the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We saw the year's first snow flurries as we pulled into the church's parking lot and as we walked inside, and it felt like God reminding us that He's with us. I kissed her on the cheek as we walked inside and told her it was snowing, and there was no moment more perfect to experience her first snowflakes. We stood at the front of the church and held her as the pastor prayed with us and the other families standing next to us. It was such a sweet moment, and I was sweating the entire time standing in front of so many people while trying not to fidget with my sweater.
We spent Thanksgiving with my parents, and spent the evening in the living room watching Christmas movies while my mom worked on Gracie's stocking. Last Thanksgiving, I stood in my parent's kitchen as my mom told me my baby will be old enough to eat a little pumpkin pie next Thanksgiving. This year, James held Gracie will my mom gave her her first taste of pie, and she loved it. She ate every bite that was offered, even after putting away James' mashed potatoes and beans. She started clapping her hands for the first time on Thanksgiving, which made me laugh because I have the same reaction to pie. She sat on the couch between James and me and clapped with us, and it was like everything bad that has ever happened just melted away.
As much as I love and adore Christmas and all the ensuing decorations, I'll let you in on a little secret: sometimes I'm tempted not to decorate, because as I put things up, I can't help but think that I have to take them down in only a few short weeks. I know I would deeply regret it if I didn't put out the wooden sleigh my dad made and the sparkly trees, so I do it anyway and bask in it as much as I can. I told myself I wanted to keep the decorations minimal this year, but every day I find myself putting out more and more, and before I knew it, there was garland strung between my grandmother's teacups hanging from the dining room shelves. I cannot be stopped. Every morning I lift up the top of the record player and put the old Bing Crosby Christmas record on as I make breakfast and Gracie plays. We light a peppermint candle and turn on the lights of the ceramic Christmas tree. I sing her Christmas carols instead of hymns before bed, and I hold her and let her touch the ornaments on the tree after she wakes up in the morning. She won't remember this Christmas or even care about the presents under the tree for her, but I'm excited enough for the both of us.