Sweet Times

xmas2013We picked out our tree on Saturday when the temperature hovered around -9. It was so cold that the trees remained closed even though they'd been freed from their twine bindings which meant that we basically had to choose our tree by height and a feeling. Fortunately for all of us, the kids both gravitated towards the same tree and said, "This is the one."

It's rare that they agree and the fact they did and did so quickly was a gift.

Luisa did the tree wrangling while I went inside with the kids to pay.

We looked at the ornaments and decorations and they called attention to things that interested them and I realized that I didn't have to say, "Be careful!" and "Don't touch everything!" and "Watch where you are going!" They were careful and thoughtful and mindful and I noticed again that they are getting older.

Yesterday, the tree had opened and both kids smiled, pleased with their choice. We set out all the unique ornaments we've given to the kids over the years and the ones we've received from others. The kids call them "The Specials".

They looked at them and touched them and remembered when they got them and, when they didn't remember, we recreated the story for them. These are the ones that go on the tree first. I listened and smiled as I heard the two of them uses phrases like, "We usually do this..." and "That's not how we do it..." We have our traditions and our stories. Zeca mentioned, as she always does, that I broke her very special ornament one year. She still doesn't trust me to hang her Specials so she handed her glass guitar to Luisa to hang high up in the tree.

We listened to music and put all the ornaments on the tree and it was over so quickly.

Miguel said, "It doesn't take very long to decorate the tree."

I remembered when it took all evening as we guided tiny hands to branches.

"No, it doesn't. Not anymore."

I asked the kids to pose in front of the tree and they refused. I begged and they finally agreed but they wouldn't stand still and I got annoyed at Miguel for stepping away from Zeca and at her for trying to cling to him.

"She's pinching me in the back. You can't see it but she is!"

Zeca just giggled, "Yeah. I'm pinching him."

"Stop pinching him! I want one picture. ONE. I don't ask for much."

Sometimes, a tiny guilt trip just slips right out. I took five imperfect pictures before they wandered off - Miguel to homework and Zeca to her room to watch something on her iTouch.

As I looked at the pictures, I realized how much they've grown but could still see traces of the babies they'd been on their first Christmases - Miguel at five months, head tilted to one side as he sat by the tree...Zeca at nine months, already walking, grabbing ornaments with her chubby little hands. Those were sweet times but these are too.