Hello, friends! I hope that this post finds you well, wrapped up warm & happy in the magic of the Christmas season.
This is the first year that Roman really “gets it.” That makes the wonder of the season all the brighter for me. Gratefully, consumerism hasn’t taken hold of him. He understands that he will be receiving Christmas presents, but that is not the focus of his attention. Mostly, he is thrilled by the Christmas decorations on the homes that we pass, catching glimpses of Santa, carols on the radio, and hearing stories of how magic reindeer can fly.
He’s also taken the sweetest interest in the story of baby Jesus (or “baby Jeeza” as he calls him), and the little family gathered there in the manger. I am so grateful that our church family has taken such care to teach the children of our congregation all about that story and the true meaning of Christmas.
Last week, we had a “Living Nativity” at church. Marina was a lamb and Roman was one of the Three Kings. It was a lot of fun and a memory that I will cherish deep in my heart forever. I couldn’t beliebe how well Marina “performed.” Roman did quite well too, all up until he had to give a present to the baby Jesus. It seemed that Mr. Roman was quite attached to that present himself and things got a little hairy after that. Hello, three-years-old, you’re so sweet & sour.
After the performance, we enjoyed fresh bakes goodies in the fellowship hall, surrounded by friends. It doesn’t get much better. ♥
The autumn that is ending has been one of my favorites to date. It’s always been my favorite season, full of magic and warmth, but this one was more illuminating & empowering than any that have come before it.
This past summer was a tumultuous one for me. Through all of that, I prayed hard for a sign from God. Then one day, I looked behind me and I saw this. There it was, loud and clear, exactly what I needed: Slow down. As summer came to a close, the tumult began to fade and peace set in. I had my sign.
I took the autumn “off” in a lot of ways. I rested. I reflected. I prayed. I walked slowly through nature. I took photographs. I laughed. I cried. I listened. I shared.
In the silence of what came next, in the reflecting, I found wisdom.
I realized that there are two types of people in the world: people who are afraid to say no and people who are not afraid to say no.
I spent my entire life being the former, always afraid to say no; afraid to disappoint; afraid to upset — even when it came at my own expense. And then, one day, I said enough. What a thing it is to feel empowered to say no, any time, any place, to any one. It is a gift, a gift to myself and now I will walk happily through the rest of my life carrying no in my hands, never afraid to use it whenever I need it.
And most importantly, now, when I say no, I never, ever feel guilty. For my no is my gift to myself and I trust myself to know well-enough when it is the right time to say it.
I hope that you are well, friends. Here in northern New Jersey, autumn is quickly turning into winter. The bright, warm colors in these photographs are quickly fading, even in my memory. Winter has never been an easy thing for me, as you well know if you’ve been reading here awhile. Yet, this week all of the autumn decorations have been coming down and in their place Christmas has been popping up and bringing fresh hope with it.
Last night, the children and I were driving home. The sun had set and Christmas lights were glowing brightly in the front yards that we passed. Candles were burning warmly in the windows. I felt a surge of warmth in my heart, a deep, profound gladness for all of the people sitting safely & happily inside of their homes. Most of all, I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my own multitude of blessings. Perhaps this winter will not be as cold as the ones that came before it. Perhaps magic will live on and shine bright. Perhaps peace & love will reign supreme. ♥
Halloween is kind of a big deal around here. Errrr… that’s an understatement. Halloween is actually THE. BIGGEST. DEAL. around here. Roman and I start getting amped up about the end of July. This year the kids’ costumes were purchased in August. In October, once the Halloween decorations start going up all over town, we make a special effort to pass the best-decorated houses at least once a day. We start watching “The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and Curious George’s “Boofest” at the very first signs of autumn.
For me, Halloween isn’t just a holiday, it’s a way of life, a celebration of everything that is fun and magical about childhood. So many of my own best childhood memories were built around Halloween. The smell of pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven, the excitement of carving a jack-o-lantern, the thrill of bobbing for apples, spooky Halloween songs & stories, the joy of trick-or-treating from door-to-door on cool October days. I am so grateful to spend the rest of my life celebrating the magic with my sweet babies.
This Halloween was as beautiful an autumn day, as one could hope for. The sun was shining and the air was crisp. Orange, red, yellow and brown leaves were painted on the trees and swirling through the air. Pumpkins were glowing on front porches and the whole community gathered at their front doors to greet babies, children, and teens with treats & smiling faces.
As has often been the case this year, I didn’t get to take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked. Still, I am so grateful that I decided to drag along my big camera and at least capture these precious moments that I’m sharing here today.
I hope that you had a most special Halloween celebration this year, friends. I’ve just now, two weeks later, begun to reluctantly take our Halloween decor down around the house. Onto Thanksgiving and Christmas! But don’t worry Halloween, we’ll see you again next year for even bigger and better celebrations. ♥
A few weeks ago, we took a little trip to the New York Renaissance Faire. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, then you know it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve been attending the fair each year for as long as I can remember.
On this day, the babies were being a bit *ahem* high maintenance, so I didn’t get too many photographs. Still in all, it was the most gorgeous autumn afternoon and we had such a wonderful time. Watching Roman’s expressions on the dragon ride (see also: PURE ELATION) was one of the greatest experiences of my life to date. I seriously was smiling so hard I thought that my face was going to break. Goodness, I love motherhood.
As usual, the day was full of magic, adventure, good food, and incredible talent on the parts of the actors & artisans. Enjoy the snaps from our day. xo
Just for fun, here’s a look back at past Renaissance Faires: