At first, things seemed to be progressing as usual: I started turning on Christmas music in the car, made my annual trip down to my Alma Mater to see the Christmas Vespers performed, started thinking about Christmas-y things.
But then, just as Tom and I were floating around ideas about how much and in what ways to decorate around here considering that we won't actually be home for Christmas, illness struck. And lingered.
We've finally just gotten past that, but not only do I still have a great deal of sanitizing to do in regards to the individual toys scattered about the (likely) germ-infested playroom, I can't shake the burden of sadness I've been carrying around ever since I heard the dreadful news, that continues to shake our nation, on Thursday afternoon. I can't stop thinking about the people of Newtown, Connecticut; all of the affected families, all of the pain and loss. In the last day or so, specifically, I've been thinking about a certain little redheaded girl, who I've recently learned was the daughter of a fellow alum. And every couple of days there seems to be some fresh reason to mourn anew. I can't seem to control the random tears.
As a result, trying to help the people who care about me determine what are good gift ideas, and trying to come up with good ones for them, in turn, has only caused me a great deal of anxiety. This causes me more distress than I know how to express, because the giving, for me, has always been the beautiful part, and I haven't been able to find any enjoyment in the process thus far.
On top of all of that, I can't stop needlessly worrying about our upcoming trip: all the things we need to get done beforehand, all of the various necessities we will need to bring, how we will pack it all, and fit the gifts, as well. And most of all, I'm inordinately anxious about how my body will handle the extended time in the car.
So, we haven't decorated around here, at all. Heck, we've hardly cleaned, outside of keeping up with sick-messes and basic "maintenance," like dirty dishes, so what would be the point? We've bought most of our gifts, but haven't wrapped them (that will have to wait until we arrive in NJ, since there's no point in risking ruining the wrap job in transit). And I still have some important people, including Tom and Michael, to come up with some meaningful gifts ideas for. (How I will then apply those ideas in time is another matter, entirely.)
At least we have our Christmas cards in-hand, though until they are actually stuffed in envelopes and mailed out, they remain yet another entry on my to-do list, and another weight on my mind.
Thank goodness for Abigail, and her natural and boundless joy and wonder. Though I am severely lacking in magical mojo, myself, I've been cherishing getting to observe the excitement that she can't seem to help soaking in, regardless. She loves Christmas books of all kinds, and has memorized all three of the ones in rotation for bedtime (including Madeline's Christmas and Madeline in America, which are both impressively long pieces of literature for such a task). For the last three nights, she has been "reading" them to Tom, rather than the other way around.
She also looks forward, every evening (and morning and afternoon, though we only do it at dinnertime) to placing a new sticker on the Jesse Tree.
It's a cute little Advent activity that I picked up from church at the end of November. There is a sticker for each day of Advent, symbolizing an accompanying bit of poetry paraphrased from the Old Testament.
Tom or I place the stickers for her, since she doesn't quite have the coordination to hold and press them flat without bending or wrinkling. However, we always have her show us exactly where to put them, and she takes great enjoyment in the process. So much so that she always wants to do it again, and again. And every night we must explain that we do just one.
She'd been having a rough, cranky afternoon (courtesy of teething, no doubt), and I just happened to have the perfect thing in the goody bag that we picked up from Saturday's party (Thanks, E!), so I decided to prolong the fun tonight.
I pulled out two sheets from the bag. One was an illustrated card of Santa's empty workshop, and the other contained various stickers designed to be placed inside of it. I handed them to Tom, and he and Abby set to work.
He started off asking her where to put each one, but she initially seemed to think that they all should go "in the window," so, apart from the colored lights and kitty, he ended up taking her requests as suggestions, and then offering his own.
For instance, Santa was not put in the window, but rather on the floor by the table. And Santa's workshop sign was placed on the wall. Abby was cool with it, though.
Eventually, Abby got the hang of it. At one point, she instructed that the toy train be placed "on the living room floor." (Our living room floor is hardwood, like the one in the picture, and there is a table in the middle of it, so I imagine that's why Abby assumed the room to be a living room in the first place.)
This was the finished product.
Not bad, huh? They managed to fit in every sticker. Upon inspection, Abby declared, "The teddy bear is very happy."
I bet he is.
Now it's my turn. I hope I can find my way back to "happy" soon.