The girls and I were driving home from basketball practice a few nights ago. It was dark, illuminating the holiday lights adorning people’s houses. “Katie, you say ‘ooooooh’ every time there is a display on your side, and I’ll say ‘ooooooo’ every time there is one on my side. That way we know which way to look at the cool lights!” Those girls had a rip-roaring time, oooooing and ahhhhing at all the houses. The car vibrated with excitement and the two of them squealing – “Ooooooo! Lookit! Ooooooo! More lights – those are red! Purple! Oh! My! Gosh – it’s a huge Rudolph!! Mommy keep driving so we can see more houses that make us go, Oooooo!”
As we finally pulled into our driveway after taking the long way home, it looked naked and empty with just the one, lonely outside light. Apparently Sophie and Katie were thinking the same as I was, because they started chirping, “Mommy, why don’t we have lights? Can we put up lights? Can we do it this weekend – PLEASE!!!??!” I wasn’t running out to get a blow-up Santa, but our house needed a little Christmas cheer – and I was excited and ready to get our decorating on.
This year - for the first time - we put up outside Christmas lights. In the past it seemed as if it would prove to be a herculean task, given all that is required to be a human being most days, let alone a human at Christmas time. When the girls were babies, we were in such survival mode that anything extra – meaning a step above just decorating the tree - was enough to put me over the edge. I must confess, I think there was a year when we didn’t even put up a tree. Negotiating a toddler who has the walking abilities of a drunken sailor at best plus a delicately adorned Christmas tree compounded with the thousand and one, “no touching, just looking please” that I robotically commanded everyday was too much. It was the tree or my sanity. Luckily my sanity eked it out that year.
Thankfully, those days of baby desperation are long past, because I have two girls who fully believe and at the very least expect a Christmas tree. In our garage, we unearthed bags of white lights that we had left over from decorating the tent where we held our wedding reception. We decided to wind them around the hydrangea bushes in our front yard. At some point along the decorating process, I slipped inside to get dinner ready. Cliff and the girls took over, testing lights, seeing which bulbs worked, plugging things in, and stepping back to admire their progress. “Babe!” Cliff called to me, “Do the girls and I have enough time before dinner to run to the store to get more lights?” “Momma!” Squealed Sophie, jumping and clapping, “We need more lights!”
There is no guarantee what holiday moments the girls are going to remember. It is a good chance that they won’t remember the meal I cooked or maybe they won’t remember a single present they received this year. But I do hope they remember the excitement of driving to the store with Cliff to get more lights, so we could have a house that when kids drive by they say, “Ooooooo!” I know I will remember this one.