Every year, Big B and little b make Christmas ornaments for their aunts, grandparents and teachers. This year, they are both old enough to be careful with glass, and I bought several clear glass balls for them to adorn, not knowing yet which method we'd choose. We'd experimented with the paint and glitter swirly method, but they just didn't turn out the way we'd hoped. Then, Papa and I went to the grand opening party for a fabulous new home accessories boutique in town, and saw these adorable beauties:
I remembered the masks I had scored at Goodwill before Halloween, and the bounty of peacock feathers collected at the ranch, and our ornament making afternoon took shape.
I just love these. They are each so different, so simple, yet so elegant, and Big B and little b created them almost entirely by themselves. We will revisit this concept next year, I'm sure!
Remember the sweet partridge-in-a-pear-tree linoleum block I scored at an estate sale earlier this year? To my intense delight, I found its Christmas-bells-with-holly partner at a thrift store in December. I had so much fun with these. My only expense in creating this year's cards was the paper. I used metallic silver and copper ink I had leftover from previous endeavors. I was very happy with the handmade results! I did make a fatal mistake, however; in cleaning them, I got their cork backings wet, and now the blocks are irrevocably warped. I will try to remove the linoleum and re-back them, but I am grateful they lasted through this season, and still remain beautiful blocks to admire.
December was jam-packed over here, one I'd like to think broadened everyone's horizons a bit. The month was kicked off by three days of animal admiration. Big B's first grade class took a field trip to our local dairy farm. I was so grateful to be invited to chaperone this one, as we use their delicious farm-fresh cream to make butter and I've always wanted to visit the source. Such sweet and gentle animals. It was amazing to watch them move as a huge group into the milking area. The cows knew which stalls to turn into, and seemed very polite with each other--no shoving, single file, etc. Hmmm, perhaps this was a subliminal message to the first graders? The cows were given ample room to freely range. The children were taken on a very malodorous hayride, watched a piglet race, and took turns bottle-feeding baby calves. This little guy won my heart.
The next couple of days were consumed with Christmas decorating, us in our homes and the City outside. Our home has a rich circus history, and this year's downtown holiday parade welcomed two special guests: elephants, trucked in from Gainesville. We were able to get a sneak peek of their arrival, a special treat for which we were all very, very grateful. After much kid-patience, the elephants finally emerged from their chariot, in all their magnificence.
We are so grateful for these moments that allow our boys to open their eyes a little wider.
I have not posted here since December 1st. For me, that seems an eternity. It isn't for lack of material--goodness knows we've been a busy family. It just felt like the time to post and write about the things that bring us joy simply wasn't there. There has not been a moment's pause, a deep breath, a sit-and-relax hour in a very, very long time.
It is amazing how the universe works.
Today, just as things are spiraling a bit too chaotically for my comfort level, I receive the sweetest, most grounding gift imaginable. My twin sister, Aunt S, created a beautiful, 400+ page, hardcover book, comprised of all of the posts published here in this space over the last two years, as my Christmas present. Its slight belatedness added to its reception, as I was able to spend still moments looking through its gorgeous pages, remembering small details about my children, their papa, our creations, our adventures, our color walks, our love.
...and now, ironically, all I can think about is chronicling the wonderful things we did over the holiday, and rediscovering my pride in being the keeper of this family's story. I am so grateful to Aunt S for this gift, and can already feel my roots sinking deeper into the earth.
BONUS GIFT: as if that wasn't enough...a few hours later I received a surprise visit from The Voice of the Village, with the sole purpose of gifting me a bread machine--something I recently coveted at Aunt S's house. A full circle indeed. If there is anything that can help get one back to the basics, its breadmaking. And that's just what I intend to do. Live, laugh, love, create, write--and bake bread.
We tiptoed onto Papa's Grandma's land in the darkness, and were greeted the next morning, the day before Thanksgiving, by this magnificent tree. It was the perfect beginning, the perfect reminder to give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us. We celebrated it by adorning our trusty Vagabond with Andy Goldsworthy-esque devotionals.
Big B, little b and their Georgia kin experienced the joy of jumping into a huge crunchy leaf pile, making leaf angels, and basking in the shade and raining leaves of the changing trees. We read The Giving Tree a lot during the trip, resonating deep in the heart of our eldest, who called his favorite climbing tree "Mama Tree" and talked to her every day. More tree love: deep into the swampland on a brisk four-wheeler ride, we found this incredible cypress wonderland.
At our family reunion on Saturday, we hosted a children's craft table. I braided raffia throughout the trip in preparation for more leaf crowns. Papa and the boys went on a leaf-hunting expedition and collected the most beautiful fall leaves I've ever seen. The kids were crowned, created leaf rubbings, and wrote their gratitudes on paper leaves.The most beautiful tree I saw over the weekend: the family tree. I am so lucky to have married into this family, and so thankful that my children have this kind of history and sense of home to revisit, connecting them to their roots.
After the reunion, we visited a dear friend's property, one of the most beautiful pieces of land I've ever stepped foot on. She took all of us on a magical four-wheeler ride just as the sun was setting. About twenty minutes into the ride, when all daylight was gone, she asked us to turn off our lights and engines. She told us about the forest fairies that help the trees grow and the flowers bloom. The fairies only come out on chilly nights when all is quiet. She told the children to watch out for them, glowing in the trees. We continued our ride, and sure enough, as we neared the creek, there they were--and our children were mesmerized. I am forever grateful for this sweet woman.
The morning we left, we helped Papa's grandma with another special tree, infusing us with Christmas spirit for the long ride home.
Driving away, we passed the orchard of pecan trees that finds its way into Papa's retirement dreams. Such a sense of peace is found between these branches.
Another Thanksgiving, come and gone. And I have never been more thankful for the gifts of my life than I am at this moment. Hoping you all had a restful holiday filled with pause enough to count your blessings.