I finished up our book this past week. It's simple, but filled with photos and memories. Sean's dad flew out from Iowa to stay with us for six days. He went from temperatures well below zero, to almost eighty degrees and with his feet in the ocean.
In addition to his train ride on my desk and the dogs holding him hostage in their kennel, Clarence the elf took selfies with Mac and I when we were asleep. We found them on our cell phones.
Can I tell a story please? Most of you know Mac is an identical twin, but his brother, Griffin, was stillborn. We live right down the street from my mom's house, the house I grew up in, which is on a street perpendicular to a cemetery. Griffin is buried there and, although we drive past it pretty much everyday, I am terrible about taking care of his grave. Except I always make sure we decorate it on Christmas. This year we weren't going to get there until Christmas Eve afternoon. When Sean went to get the decorations out of the garage, he realized that we had tossed them the summer before in a big clean out. We figured the decorations were old and falling apart, so we would get him new ones. And then we forgot.
I burst into tears for reaching an entirely new level of neglect. Sean was going to run out the door to buy anything he could find. And Mac offered the tree in his room. Before I let you think Mac is the kindest kid you've ever met (and granted he is pretty darn good) I should be honest and let you know that most grave Christmas decorating visits have included Mac complaining about why the heck we even have to do this. Regardless of his past annoyances with the tradition, Mac's offer made everything better. I decided to bring along a candle too. Not the safest thing, but living by the cemetery we knew people did it all the time and I liked the idea of the little light flickering, even if it didn't last long. So one of my Christmas wreath jar candles sat on his grave, along with Mac's tree.
That night we ended up with Santa Ana winds...it howls and shakes the house in the middle of the night as the gusts blow through. When I opened my eyes Christmas morning, I asked Sean if he would go gather Mac's tree. We guessed that it had blown away the night before and figured he'd be looking for wherever it ended up. Thankfully, it had just blown over, but not really taken off. And the candle? Sean told me when he got home that, despite the wind, the candle was still lit when he got there. I wish I had been there to see it myself.
That's the card we put in Mac's stocking...on the other side it said, "but we are getting you one for Christmas".
And that's my nephew at our family Christmas brunch making sure there weren't anymore gifts under the tree.
Since the first Christmas after were married, Sean and I have the tradition to open gifts from each other very last thing on Christmas night. And we write little hints and jokes on the gift tags, so I always save them.
And I enlarged the photo I took of the reflection of the three of us in an ornament on Mac's tree from Christmas Eve. Even though it occurred in a bit of a crisis mode, putting that tree up was definitely was my favorite holiday moment this year.