Pour your coffee. Put some Christmas tunes on. Get a cozy sweater. Go ahead, I won’t start this post until you come back.
I like to start my posts as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we’re the oldest and dearest friends — as opposed to what we actually are, people who don’t know each other.
Wait. Kathleen Kelly already said that. Nevermind.
I was so busy making reindeer collars, arranging fake snow blankets into mini sledding hills and practicing forging Santa’s name (no “e” in Claus! no “e” in Claus!) on Friday that I never posted Friday faves. I’ll throw it in some time this week.
On to the North Pole Party. You guys. It was magical. It had less to do with the details of the party and so much more to do with these precious kids. To see the world through their eyes and to remember what it felt like to be that awake and delighted with cookies and lights and friends and an unbridled imagination. Okay, I’m still delighted with cookies and lights and friends but sometimes I’d like my unbridled imagination back.
Lainey was a little nervous about going to school this morning because of some current county wide testing going on. We talked among other things about how life isn’t always exactly what you want it to be–sometimes you have to go along with the system, and taking tests is part of it. Not fun, I know. But because I know that life is made up of a lot of challenges and “testing”, perhaps I love even more these opportunities to cushion the hard days, the tests, the real life system with storybook and magic. To teach my kids to create it. They’re going to need it. And indeed we can have both.
So Friday night was just that. Storybook and magic. On a little street in the middle of Naples, Florida, we created the North Pole.
A Night at the North Pole:
Santa called in (coughMYBROTHERcough). That guy is hard to track down this time of year, but I’ve got connections–namely, an elf named Bubby (I forgot to cover the contacts ID on my phone as I held it up for all the kids to see) who weaseled his way into the Toy Factory. With his hearty HOHOHO (seriously, it was amazing), Santa talked to the kids about his reindeer and his toy making and answered questions. I loved their questions. What does your Christmas tree look like? What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Do you know my elf, Snowflake? Was I good?
And this face of Lainey’s while listening? I will never forget it. I can’t even look at it without tearing up.
Lainey’s little friend Mihiri wanted to ask a question but froze when it was her turn. We fed her a question and she giggled through the entire thing. Like I said, magic.
It was a great year for Nella. While last year she stayed pretty close to me, this year she wandered through the crowd eager to participate, found friends to help her make reindeer food and snuck off to the cookie table when we weren’t looking.
Our elf made his annual appearance again on our scavenger hunt, and I overheard a few older kids hypothesizing an explanation of his appearance. The window may slowly be closing for some of these kids and these imaginative stories, but new windows open. And if all goes well, we’ll teach them they can have both. Grow older, get smarter but never lose your sense of wonder and your ability to create a little bit of magic among the testing days.
There will be leftover snowman cookies for an after school treat today. And a reminder that on testing days, you simply do your best and know that how well you test has NOTHING to do with how much you are loved and the most important thing you have to offer the world…give it your imagination, your curiosity, your heart.
And if you’d like to recreate the Reindeer Food Bar with your own kids (invite friends, get your grandkids together), I have a full D.I.Y. tutorial over at BabyZone this week (with a new free printable for all the reindeer food labels).
Last matters of business, promise:
* Thank you for all of your #BeYourTee orders! This is the last day you can get your Be the Change shirts–help us reach our goal of 1,000 shirts! Youth and Adult sizes and many styles available HERE, and $5 of the sale of every shirt goes directly to the National Down Syndrome Society.
* And an essay on savoring “the last baby” over at All Parenting this week. I went there this morning–“this is the last “first Christmas” we’re going to enjoy.” (cheek smack, cheek smack…pull it together, Kelle!) We’re good now.
Merry merry, friends.