Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the Eighth Day of Christmas....

....I turned 34.

In honor of this momentous day (at least in my mom's and my life), I bring you:

The Pros and Cons of a Birthday 5 Days Before Christmas...

Pro: So many twinkle lights that you almost feel like they've been put there just for you.
Con: So many twinkle lights that you ALMOST feel like they've been put there just for you.

Pro: The decorations are beautiful.
Con: The decorations have absolutely NOTHING to do with you or your birthday.

Pro: It's usually pretty easy to find yourself off of work or school because you were taking vacation anyway.
Con: All of your friends are also on vacation, usually in another part of the country, and so no one is available to help you celebrate.

Pro: All those tasty cookies.
Con: So many cookies that no one wants cake.

Pro: It's your birthday and aren't all birthdays good no matter when they are.
Con: It's also Jesus' birthday.
(Picture me here holding out my hands, one on each side, moving them up and down like a scale, saying, "Jesus' birthday," while moving one up, and "Danielle's birthday," while simultaneously moving the other down. It think you get the point here.)

Pro: Presnts.
Con: All of them are combination birthday/Christmas presents and are wrapped in Christmas paper.

Pro: Birthday money.
Con: All of it spent on other people's Christmas presents.

Pro: The sweet cards.
Con: They all read, "Hey Christmas baby....."

And I wonder why I've always had a love/hate relationship with this holiday.

Moral of the story....plan your conception activities so the kid is born sometime between February and November, NOT around Christmas. Or, at least if it is, have the sensitivity of my mother (who's birthday is tomorrow and also suffered the misfortunes of a Christmas birthday growing up) and make sure to go ABOVE and BEYOND in making it feel like a separate, special occasion, even down to stealing and re-wrapping your friends presents in birthday paper. Thanks mom. The mani/pedi/latte/lunch was great!

I'm chock full of sugary, buttercreamy goodness. And now I'm off to indulge in a bath with my new smelly bath stuff in my nice clean (thanks Doug) tub, while listening to my new i-thingy.

Hello 34, I'm Danielle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...

....I drove ALL OVER town looking for a doll house.

Yes, Emma decided she wanted a doll house for Christmas just two days ago. And I have not had an opportunity to shop for one until tonight.

It was ugly people. Ugly. Everything I hate about the Christmas season encapsulated in one crazy 35 mile trip around town to 3 different stores looking for a doll house.

And I didn't even get the one I wanted.

But in the midst of my Christmas rage at yet another rude shopper who used their cart as a battering ram in order to shove past me in a vain attempt to grab at the last of some plastic, piece of crap that their kid just had to have, I realized that I had truly been initiated as a parent in the midst of the Christmas season.

I used to watch news reports about parents like me, swearing that I'd never get so caught up in the crazies that I'd drive all over town, cutting people off, honking my horn, pushing people out of my way, sprinting down store aisles (and yes, I did all of those things tonight)....just....for....a....toy. But it's Emma. My little Emmers. And I want so badly to see her face light up on Christmas morning when she comes downstairs and sees her coveted doll house containing a "Belle" doll lounging comfortably on the chaise lounge. And now she will. And my heart is smiling for her.

As for not getting the one I want, well, I'm tempted to pull another crazy parent stunt and set this one up for Christmas, only to return it when the other one becomes available.

Have I lost my mind? It's a doll house.

Oh...and if you see an Imaginarium Cozy Country Doll House lying around your local Toys R Us, let me know. Apparently I'm willing to drive pretty far.

My neighbor on You Tube...

...check him out. Mullet and all.
Seriously, this is just too close to home right now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

...I got my mother-in-law.

For those of you that are cringing, stop. My mother-in-law is actually one of the coolest people I know, and I respect and admire her so much. She's funny, witty, smart, very well put together, classy, down to earth, real, and all with a great sense of style. And she and I have always had a great relationship. We get each other. Same sarcastic sense of humor. Similar tastes. And like her, I am very practical.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, I received a birthday card from her, and after reading the front cover, I put it down and immediately called her up laughing hysterically.

It read,

"My son is very lucky to have you as his wife..."

Now I wasn't laughing because I disagree with this sentiment. Quite the contrary. I think Doug and I are both lucky. After a rocky start to our marriage, we have both grown together in a most unexpected and complimentary way. And I know that we are both lucky to have the other in our lives. But when your mother-in-law sends you a card that says so....well, that's not only atypical, unexpected and phone call-worthy, but blog-worthy.

Anyway, I called her up to thank her for the card and let her know what a kick I'd gotten out of it before I'd even opened it. As per usual, we chatted for about 20 or 30 minutes updating one another on the goings-on of our lives, had a few good laughs, and bid farewell until next time.

And then, this morning, in the midst of making fruit salad for preschool, constructing teacher presents, dressing two children, dressing myself, and going shopping all before 9am, I stopped to read the inside.

I wasn't prepared. At all.

The card reads,

"My son is very lucky to have you for his wife....
....and I am just as fortunate to have you in my life."

Yup. I started crying here. You see, my mother-in-law and I share one very important quality in common. We both HATE those sappy, overly emotional, sing-songy cards, yet we're both inclined to send the sentimental variety. Problem is, it's hard to find one that sounds sincere without also sounding trite and schmaltzy. So, I know that, like myself, she took great care in picking out a card that said just what she wanted to say and really meant it.

And as far as I'm concerned, she hit the nail on the head. This was one of those, "You had me at hello," Jerry McGuire moments.

The card went on to say, (and yes, it went if that first part wasn't enough)

"You're more to me than a daughter-in-law,
you've also been a friend,
and I hope this year will bring you love
and happiness without end."

And with that, I was reduced to a blubbering mess. Emma asked me, "Mommy, why are you so sad."

To which I responded, "I'm not crying because I'm sad baby, I'm crying because Nanny sent me a beautiful card and it made me happy."

And after listening to so many of my friends regale me with stories about what a pain in the ass their mothers-in-law are, and how they are often riddled with self-doubt and brought to tears by these seemingly tyrannical women, I thought, "how lucky am I."

I too have cried over my mother-in-law. But the only tears she brings to my eyes are tears of joy, and disappointment that she's so far away.

I miss you Nan. I miss our weekly visits and chats over coffee. Thanks for the beautiful card. It was perfect.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

...I got a good laugh...twice!

The first comedian in the house is, of course, my daughter Emma who out of nowhere declared,

"Mommy, you're just a little bit crazy!"

To which I stopped dead in my tracks (while putting away laundry), chuckled, looked up and said,

"Tell me something I don't know. And guess got my genes little girl!"

Then I laughed maniacally.

The second comedian in the house is my husband, although he had no idea what was so funny about what he said.

While watching a Discovery Health program called, "Medical Incredibles," the two of us found ourselves caught up in the story of a little boy who was born with a VERY rare condition. He had a twin that had taken up refuge inside his abdomen. So this little boy literally found himself pregnant in utero with his own twin, complete with its own amniotic sac. Apparently this condition has been seen in various forms only 76 documented times in the last 2 centuries. And some of these cases involve the twin developing into something called a, "parasitic twin," in which the twin partially develops outside the body. The result of such a rare anomaly is a fully formed child sporting the legs, or full torso, or extra arms of another child which extrude from the hosts abdomen. It's quite a sight let me tell you.

Now this condition, in and of itself, is of course not funny at all. Luckily for the afflicted, it's benign and easily resolved with the removal of the, "extra parts." And frankly, from a scientist's point of view, I found the whole thing fascinating. Doug on the other hand was not quite as intrigued by the show, but rather shocked. And when the show broke for a commercial and I turned over in bed to inquire as to his thoughts, I caught an open-mouthed, raised brow, wide-eyed grimace staring in horror at the tv screen. And before I could even ask what he thought, he gave me.....

"We are SO not having anymore kids! Are you kidding me!?! Kids with legs sticking out their stomachs. Get the f**k outta' here!"

And I just died laughing. I watch these shows and come away with more scientific questions than I know what to do with. He watches and comes away with that. If nothing else, we are good compliments to one another.

Thanks for the laughs honey.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

....I got to see through my son's eyes. And how clear was the view.

My mother works as the director of a large assisted living facility here in Cackalackie. This afternoon, said facility hosted a Christmas party complete with Santa, sugar cookies, candy canes, and crafts. It was really adorable, and the kids enjoyed the extra opportunity to visit with the jolly, fat, bearded guy one more time for last minute requests....because as you can imagine, telling him what you want once just wasn't enough for my daughter. Nope, she thought of MORE things she wanted and had to see him just one more time.

Anyway, in attendance at the party were of course, lots of grandkids and their parents, grandparents, and in many cases, great grandparents. Guests ranged in age from 8 month olds just taking their first steps to a few fragile women in their mid-90's who had already taken their last. And once again, I was struck by this circle of life....this return to helplessness and the need for loving care when navigating what seem to be the simplest of tasks.

But what struck me even more than the shared experiences of two generations who are seemingly in stark opposition to one another, was the wonder each inspired in the other. In a room full of people normally overlooked by the more capable, and able-bodied of us, it was the dimpled hands that were quick to reach out and caress the wrinkles of gnarled fingers with awe and abandon. It was the cheurbic faces that buried themselves in the warmth of years-worn, hand-knit sweaters without reservation. Wide eyed babes gazed upon fragile forms held firmly to their wheelchairs with strategically placed pillows and blankets without judgment or fear. And clouded eyes looked with awe upon small forms bouncing with ease through a room full of endless wheelchair obstacles.

And as I watched my 21 month old son crawl his way onto the lap of yet another sweet old woman resting comfortably in her wheelchair, I saw how much they needed each other. How they fed each other.

She lit up at the touch of his pudgy, taut, little fingers. She delighted in his incessant babble, and miniaturized adult gestures, hungry for the touch and attention of someone who was able to look past her frailties and ill-health. She devoured him as he looked with wonder upon her frail form instead of the sorrow that she was used to seeing reflected in the eyes of her children and caregivers.

And he....well, he came alive in the midst of his captive and adoring audience. Performing the best of his adorable "toddlerisms", he egged her on, getting the very attention that I sometimes find myself too tired or too bored to provide.

They needed each other. They fed each other's spirit. And in lives where they often find themselves regarded as burdensome, they alone were able to look upon one another with wonder, admiration, and awe. And I thought to myself how sad and ironic it is that we middle-aged folks, with our 20/20 vision and intellectual acuity miss so much. How sad that so often we are blinded to the wonder of these people not by naivete or failing eyesight, but by our responsibilities and our fear of death. Perhaps it is the innocence of a child, ignorant of life's imminent demise and its often slow and sometimes cruel progression; and the wisdom of age, appreciative of all of youth's possibilities that allow these two generations to see each other so clearly. With so much love and abandon. With an understanding that only those on the cusp of life's beginning and end can muster.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the Third Day of Christmas...

....I got a son-in-law....or at least the promise of one.

At the dinner table:

Emma: Mommy, did you have fun today with Daddy.

Me: Yes baby, I always have fun with Daddy. That's why I married him.

Emma: Mmm. I'm gonna' marry Nicky 'cause I always have fun with him.

Me: That's sweet baby, but you can't marry your brother.

Emma: Who do I marry then?

Me: When you get older, you marry a boy you fall in love with.

Emma: What's his name?

Me: I don't know sweetheart. You'll have to wait and meet him when you get older.

Emma: Oh. Ok. So I'll ask him when I'm four.

The innocence and naivete of a three-year old pushing the limits of her understanding of all things adult is priceless. So she's going to get married at the ripe old age of four. I just love how her mind works, and I guess this proves that age really is nothing more than a state of mind. A lesson to be taken to heart as my own birthday looms just days away. I forget sometimes that in her brief 3 years, with so much accomplished and so much yet to discover, another year represents opportunity, understanding, and a chance at growth. And I am humbled by her awe and willingness to move forward fearlessly.

(Incidentally, it's noteworthy that this moment comes days before my 34th birthday and my daughter is 3 going on 4. Ok. It's a silly twist on numbers, but I couldn't help but notice.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Great Migration

Or...How I Got to Be in Cackalackie.

A few posts ago, blogger-friend Amanda posted a comment and eloquently asked, "Damn, woman, remind me again why you live there? Other than the fact that you can get diesel, deep-fried religion without leaving the range of your remote control."

And since she is not the first of my more loyal readers to take note of my otherwise surly opinion of my current state of residence and question why it is I live here, I thought I'd offer a brief explanation.

Picture September of 2005.
Doug, Emma (then only 1 year old), and I (2 months pregnant with Nicky) were living happily in a stereotypical Italian neighborhood in the northeast Bronx. Doug worked in Manhattan for a large educational publishing and test prep company, while I was at home with Emma and working as a per-diem consultant for the Bronx Zoo's Education Department. We rented the top floor of a row house from which I could walk to the grocery store, parks, the bank, a fresh produce market, decent coffee, great Italian food, and authentic sushi. It was cramped to say the least (and becoming ever more so with the impending birth of Nicholas), and noisy at times in ways that only a big city can be. But it was home. And we were happy there. Or so I thought.

And then....on a random night in mid-September:

Doug: I can't do this anymore.

Me: (thinking he's referring to the slapped together meal I'd concocted out of leftovers) So don't eat it and make yourself some soup.

Doug: No. Not that. This job. This apartment. The noise. The city. The cold. The snow.

Me: (dumbfounded) uhh.....ok. What do you mean?

Doug: I mean I want to do something different. I want my life to mean something. I'm 40 and I don't feel like I've ever had a job that made a real contribution. And I don't want to live like this anymore. In this apartment. In this city. Riding the train every day. I'm done.

(I got up from the table, grabbed myself a forbidden Pepsi, and strapped myself in for a long, head-throbbing conversation about compromise.)

I should interject here that at this point, my mother had recently relocated to our current state of residence to be closer to my brother and his children who had been living here for years. My father had also made the decision to do so within the year. And Emma and I had visited my mother her in Cackalackie a few months prior to the aforementioned conversation. When asked by my dear husband upon my return to NY what I thought of it, I believe the words I chose were, "I will NEVER raise my child in that God-forsaken place!" Never say never....

Fast forward several weeks:
(in the midst of a similar conversation)

Me: So what do you think you want to do then? You've already considered teaching and ruled that out. So what?

Doug: Well, I'm too old to be a firefighter which I'd love, so I think I want to be a cop.

Me: uh....what?

Doug: I think I want to be a cop.

Me: uh....what?

Fast forward several weeks and mountains of paperwork later:

Doug: I got an invitation for an interview in the mail today.

Me: uh....what?

Doug: For the police job. They liked my application. Apparently my age is not an issue with them.

Me: uh....when?

Doug: January.

Me: (with no attempt to hide my selfish motives) That's right around when we'll be down there for the holidays anyway. We can just extend our trip!

Fast forward several months later and only weeks before the birth of Nicky:

Doug: I got the job! Holy crap! I got the job!

Me: uh...what?!?


Me: I mean, that's great! Good for you! So I guess we're moving. (feeling my bulging belly) OH....I guess we're moving!?!?! Crap! When? When is this happening?!?

Doug: I don't know. They want me to report in April, the beginning of April.

Me: What?!? (again, hand on belly) He's only due on the 17th of March! You want me to pack a house, take care of Emma, have a baby, nurse said baby, lick my wounds, and move all within a matter of 4 weeks!?!?

Doug: Hmmm...Yeah. That's not gonna' work.

Me: You bet your ass that's not gonna' work! I'm supportive of this whole life-crisis, life-with-more-meaning career change of yours, but not that supportive! Ask them if you can move the start date. TELL THEM you have to move the start date. No....I'll tell them....

Doug: (interrupting) No, no, no...I'll call tomorrow.

Fast forward 2 months and we were on a plane to Cackalackie. I had just had my post-partum checkup, Nicky was one day shy of 2 months old, and Emma was 4 days shy of 18 months. And in the wee hours of a cold spring morning, we packed our little family into our little Hyundai and headed for LaGuardia, tears in my eyes as I watched our friends and downstairs neighbors crying in their living room window.

We've been here ever since. And the transition was all too fast for me. I'm still reeling from it. For Doug it was just right. A change that invigorated his spirit and mind, presenting him with new and meaningful challenges that could not come fast enough. For me it was a willing surrender in support of the man I love, but it was also a flight to isolation, unfamiliarity, and the bizarre. And it happened too fast. I would've liked to drive here. To see the miles pass me by. To soak in the experience of moving. But with a toddler and newborn, it just wasn't possible. And so, instead, we hopped on a plane headed 2 hours south. And in a matter of 8 months and a 120 minute flight, I had been transported not just to a new place, but to a new life. Such a short amount of time for such a monumental change.

But here we are....blindsided or not....livin' a rookie cop, a mom, and two kids....down in Cackalackie.

On the Second Day of Christmas....

...I got the title to my car! Paid off people. Paid off! And for an indefinite amount of time to come, there will be no car payment added into the already stretched-too-thin-budget that represents our household expenses. And frankly, it couldn't have come at a better time. With Christmas and the recent medical bills (incurred by myself and my erratic heart) putting a strain on things, that extra money is much needed!

And so, the car may not be much (a 2004 Hyundai), but it is full. And more importantly, we now have 300+ more dollars in our bank account each month. And in the world of 4 people living on an entry-level cop's salary, that is a HUGE relief.

Here's to you trusty Hyundai....and hopefully 3 more years of repair-free driving.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

T'was the First Day of Christmas....

...and I need antibiotics for the green gunk that's oozing out of my sinuses as well as the nagging pain in my right ear. Emma is on oral steroids for croup, and Nicky spent an entire night coughing on my chest.

I have already spent a week accumulating and arranging a various assortment of scarlet velvety bows, fir tree clippings, sparkly knick knacks, and twinkly lights. But only after spending 20 minutes in a waiting room full of coughing, snot-nosed kids did it start to feel like Christmas people. Truly. Aaah...the warmth of the season as only the barking sound of a 3 year-old's croupy cough can convey.

Since the birth of my daughter 3 years ago, my little family has been sick every single Christmas season. Last year's bout with a veritable cornucopia of viruses had us in and out of the pediatrician's office 9 times in one month. It got so that I was tempted to ask if they had something equivalent to frequent flier miles. This year we've only been in and out twice, knock on wood. But I've learned not to get my hopes up until January has come and gone, and we are out of this dreadful season of couped up friends and family, sharing meals, gifts, snot, and germs.

And so, in this, the first of my twelve posts leading up to Christmas, I pay homage to you Parainfluenza virus for visiting my humble home and spreading your holiday cheer....particularly in the wee morning hours as you entice me from my bed and onto the sofa for several hours of spasmodic coughing with one or both of my children. Because of you, I now sport the sleep-deprived, viral-laden glow of the Christmas season. Merry, merry.

Monday, December 10, 2007


On the way into our local grocery store...

Emma: Mommy, I'm going to walk. I'm not going to ride in a cart, but Nicky is going to ride in the cart because he's just a baby. I'm not a baby, and I'm going to walk because I am.... independent (pronounced perfectly I might add).

She then proceeded to walk through the sliding doors with a haughty swagger that I'd never seen in her step before. And with each step, she took a little piece of my heart with her.

Seriously. My barely 3 year old daughter has officially declared herself, "independent!?!" C'mon. I expected this at 16, but 3!?! Seriously.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Manic Depressive Blogging

I determined today that my writing is guided by manic-depressive episodes. One day it's dull, slow, totally lacking in ideas, and bordering on the melancholy. The next, it's a dizzying flood of ideas fraught with humor, silliness, pictures, and a slightly sarcastic version of good cheer.

Look out people. I'm in a manic phase. Oh...and the pictures are below. About three posts below. I told you...manic.

Pick "Meme!"

So I was the gawky, overachiever girl in high school. You know, the one with the googly eyes, funny glasses, too-frizzy hair, too chubby thighs, too smart for her own good girl. And in the sun-bleached, ultra-thin land of Southern California, this was not a good thing to be. Nope. I'd have been better off in some place like Samoa. Not because Samoans have funny eyes or anything, but at least in an excessively humid place like Samoa where people are genetically inclined towards being bigger sized, my thighs and hair would've fit in. Two out of five or more ain't bad.

Anyway, because of all of these traits and more, I never really felt like I "fit in." Then again, who did, right? Actually, if you asked my super-cool, ruggedly handsome, awesome jock of a brother, he'd probably say, "Dude. I did." And he did. He really did.

But I digress. Like I said, I never really "fit in." I mean I had my cliques and all, just like all of us, but they were things like the speech & debate team, or the newspaper staff, or the drama club. Translation: the nerds, the bookworms, and the freaks. Not exactly the "in" crowd if you know what I mean.

And lately, I've been feeling like that same frizzy-haired, googly-eyed, awkward young girl. Only this time, it's virtual. That's right. It's bad enough that I don't feel like I fit in with the ultra-conservative, somewhat redneck mommy cliques in this small Southern town of mine. But now I'm wondering if I truly belong to the mommy blogging cliques of the world out there. And here's why.... one tags me for any "memes." Hell, I didn't even know what a, "meme," was until my friend Karen wrote about it. But that aside, I love reading about your, "8 interesting facts," or your, "alphabet descriptions," or your, "have you ever..." And since I've never been tagged for a, "meme," before, I'm not jaded by them yet.

So here I am to say to the blogging world as I stand in line with the other chubby, too-smart, awkward girls waiting to be picked by the captains, "Pick me. Meme me! I promise I won't let you down!"

Oh. And being one to take matters into my own hands, here's a, "meme," for all of you.

10 Things That Describe Where I live:

1. There are 4 Walmarts within a 10 mile radius of my house.
2. All 4 of them are Walmart "Supercenters."
3. There are 5 car parts stores within a 5 mile radius of my house.
4. They too are "Supercenters."
5. My state is ranked 48th for quality of education.
6. But 5th nationwide for obesity. I think the state food is Southern-fried chicken wrapped in bacon, deep-fried in cheese, and served in buttermilk.
7. And 13th for human lightning strikes.
8. There are 9 ultra-conservative Christian churches within a 5 mile radius of my house.
9. They are all "Supercenters."
10. And even though we live in an upper-middle class part of town, there are 4 trailer parks within a 10 mile radius, all considered upper-middle class because they largely consist of "double-wides."

I think Jeff Foxworthy, the original Redneck, might actually be from here.
Welcome home "ya'll."
Oh, and I'm tagging, Karen, Amanda, and Slouching Mom.

Just blog it!

If you're like me, you find the holidays a bit daunting, dare I say, even sickeningly overwhelming. So, to add a bit of levity to the season (and in a vain attempt to keep myself from blurting out my usual tactless comments in public venues), I am taking up asylum in the blogging world and issuing a challenge to my fellow bloggers.

In the spirit of The Twelve Days of Christmas, we'll call this, "What the Season brought for me..."

Here's the deal. Starting on December 13th and working through the 24th, write something every day for 12 days about your Christmas/holiday/Chanukah/Kwanza/"Non-sectarian gift-givers" experience. The good. The bad. The ugly. The ridiculous. The sappy. The stressful. Whatever. Just blog it! On December 13th...."T'was the first day of (insert appropriate holiday title here) and the season brought for me....." And together, maybe we'll make it through this holiday season somewhat unscathed.


A Family Illuminated

We all wonder if what we have to give is enough. Have we given them enough love, enough hugs, enough stimulation? Have we read enough stories, prepared enough healthy snacks, given enough support, enough encouragement? Enough. Enough. Enough. And this time of year, this most wonderful time of year, like no other, truly tests our resiliency as mothers. As we drag boxes out of garages and hang lights for all to see, so too are our fears of inadequacy dragged out and illuminated.

What to get them? Is it enough? Do they feel a connection to the holiday? to family traditions? Have we started family traditions? Are there enough decorations to make the house feel "Christmasy"? So many nagging questions race through my mind as chubby, dimpled fingers point out with glee each new encounter with "all things Christmas."

I want so badly for Christmas to mean something to them. I want it to be about warmth. About family. About time spent. And not about the toys or the food (although both are a nice perk), or the money spent. I want for them to create, hold dear, and look back on the same kind of warm memories that I have from my own childhood Christmases. And yet I worry whether or not I can create that for them. Don't we all?

And so tonight came as an unexpected and much needed blessing. A reminder, if you will, that as their mother, I am enough. I am capable. And that this season is not made special by a need to consume beyond our means, but by the memories made. And the time spent. And the family traditions created not through force of will, but through the spontaneous coming together of a family.

Tonight, for a few blissful hours, it was not my fears illuminated, but the glow of thousands of twinkly lights reflected in the eyes of two wonder-struck babes, traipsing through their first Christmas memories. Tonight was all that it should be as my little family established its first holiday tradition. Tonight, one more bit of the culture of our life together was brought to light. And tonight illuminates the way for many merry times to come.

See for yourself.