If you will indulge me, I want to look back on the end of the year that was. Let’s turn the dial to Thanksgiving day, 2015.
At the appointed hour, we scampered down the street to my mom’s house. It was warm enough to travel without coats. We had eaten small breakfasts and had been fasting ever since.
We knew from experience not to waste the opportunity. For Robbi’s cranberry orange sauce in decorative hand-cut cups.
For wild rice salad and sauteed brussels sprouts.
For turkey cooked just right.
For the pleasure of good company.
We ate. We swooned with gustatory pleasure. We took really long naps.
The next day, we went to IKEA to get Alden a new dresser. And thus began an adventure in construction.
Alden took matters (or at least the screwdriver) into her own hands.
And then the boys got into the mix.
You know what they always say…there are no small jobs, just really tiny carpenters.
What else? Oh yes. The highlight of the Bobbledy year, the make your own book competition. If you are not in the know, each year, we send out a mostly blank book with some writing suggestions and illustration prompts to all the kids in the Bobbledy Books club. Kids write and illustrate books and send them back to us. We read them all. We agonize and gnash our teeth and eventually pick just one to publish. But EVERY kid who sends us a book gets an official certificate that recognizes their outrageously impressive accomplishment.
And, with every Bobbledy mailing, we send a letter filling kids in on the latest.
Kids like this one, for example.
Although she did not win the contest, she was very pleased to be officially recognized for her efforts.
And officially amused by something or other the judges must have written on her certificate.
Our publishing empire depends on strict division of labor. Robbi does all the things that require patience and attention to detail. I take care of all the things that involve licking semi-toxic flaps.
Kato, with a sense of timing that can only be described as self-defeating, started his contest entry moments after we sent the winner’s book to all the other club members.
We debated whether or not to tell him that it was now impossible to win, so earnestly was he attacking the challenge at hand.
Later that day, we found him in the other room, working away.
Thanksgiving firmly in the rearview mirror, we decided to embrace the coming Christmas season by obtaining a tree, a thing we do each year by driving out to Simmons’ Christmas Tree Farm, where part of the experience is taking a hayride out to the fields where the trees are.
We decided to let the kids contribute to the selection process. They made dubious judgments regarding scale, which can, I suppose, be attributed to their size.
I must have made some dubious judgments regarding breakfast, because I was spectacularly ill on four separate occasions on the drive to Simmons. And three more times during the tree selection and felling process.
I nevertheless rose to the occasion just enough to saw through the final 1/3 of our tree’s rather modest stump.
Before flashing a triumphant smile as the kids did most of the work in hauling it back to the tractor.
A few weeks later, Santa showed just a few blocks from our house, eschewing the sleigh and reindeer in favor of the neon-equipped ladder truck.
All of us were shocked. Augie so much so that he spontaneously broke out in puberty.
One day, it was extremely foggy.
On another day, Robbi had an extreme need for chocolate and dispatched me to the Acme.
On another day, August had a fever.
Eventually, we decorated the tree.
And Alden sang in the holiday concert at Garnett Elementary.
And Augie turned four. And got a new shirt.
And blew out a candle.
Once Augie’s birthday was in the books, there was nothing stopping us from moving full-throttle into the holiday spirit.
We traveled to Baltimore to see the Miracle on 34th street.
This time he managed to avoid spontaneous facial hair, but August was still quite moved.
Such was the nature of our holidays this year, a pile of days and weeks and even months of fun and wonder and delight. Looking back on these photographs now now, midway through the third week of the new year, I cannot help but make this face again.