Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yes, Sophia, there is a Santa Claus

She's almost eight years old. Next Christmas, Sophie may not want to sit on Santa's lap and tell him, wholeheartedly, that she'd really like an American Girl named Molly. Santa told her that he would take the request up with Mrs. Claus who is in charge of dolls.

Black Friday had consumers scrambling around for bargains. I scrambled, instead, to scoop up Sophie and Hannah and drive to a Christmas block party in a town up in the mountains. We made it just in time to see Santa arrive (via Fire Rescue transport). What ever happened to his sleigh? The kids didn't seem to mind at all. The girls were two of the first to greet him when he started his walk up the hill to the local gathering spot. Santa took the time to speak with them and revealed that he preferred milk, cookies, and popcorn on Christmas eve.

It was a magical night filled with street vendors, hula hoops, Christmas lights, caroling, and a ride in an old-fashioned trolley.

Even though Sophie patiently waited in line to tell Santa about her wish for a doll, Hannah was content to browse the craft fair, eat free cookies, and slurp soggy marshmallows from her hot chocolate. The need to sit on Santa's lap wasn't a priority. Then again, Hannah has a couple more years to explore that option. Sophie, on the other hand, may surmise that her window of opportunity is closing. I felt a lump in my throat watching her, knowing that she is growing up much too quickly.

On the ride home through the mountains, snow started falling quite rapidly. Flashes of white were illuminated by my headlights and Sophie exclaimed, "Babci, those are snow fairies! Don't use your windshield wipers - you may kill them!" I wisely responded that snow fairies fly so fast that they are able to scoot out of the way of my wipers.

The girls soon tired of counting fairies and fell asleep to polka music. Go figure. My polka tapes seem to have a calming effect. I drove slowly, carefully, on the winding snow-slicked road asking the snow fairies to keep me and my two charges safe. I had no need for the mania of Black Friday. It was a snowy white Friday and my treasures were snuggled in the back seat.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Ups and downs

I climbed a mountain once. When the group leader asked why I wanted to climb the mountain, nothing profound came to mind. I merely stammered "to twirl on the top like Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'." It was the best I could offer. It was honest.

Climbing that mountain (known as Indefatigable in the Canadian Rockies) was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. It was also one of the most freeing, most rewarding. And yes, I did twirl at the summit ridge.

As challenging as the ascent was, the descent was even trickier. Every step had to be carefully placed as the loose rocks and pebbles were waiting to take you for a steep ride on your bum if you slipped.

Going up or coming down, you had to be mindful of where you placed your feet. While in motion, you had to be grounded. I can relate to that paradox.

I'm climbing again. Actually, I'm helping my daughter, Jenn, climb. There's not much of a guide to climbing an inner terrain. Still, determination and belief that the summit is worth reaching keep me going. This is more than a one-day hike. I'm in it for the long-haul. Some days the slope is steep, slippery, and I step more cautiously. Other days bring some sudden breathtaking views and I relax a bit and smile. This is life, my life at the moment.

November has never been an easy month. It holds a family history of decline and loss - family members, surgery. Yet, it is also the month that my godson, Donald, and my granddaughter, Hannah, were born. So November brings both struggle and blessing.

I'm an optimist at heart. What's at the top of the mountain calls me to look up time and again. I may not have the energy I had when I climbed Mount Indefatigable several years ago but I do have the desire to reach the summit. And bring Jenn along with me. One patient, vigilant step at a time.

The view at the top is all so worth it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three cheers for the birthday girl

Today was Hannah's fifth birthday. She got up early, dressed herself for her party, made her bed and gaily exclaimed, "Oh, Babci, it's going to be an exciting day!"

She had a joint party with her girlfriend, Zoe, who was born same day, a few hours apart at the same hospital in Vermont. They now attend school together. David sewed "royal skirts" for all the attendees and Jenn told improvised fairy tales and led the little dancing queens.

A good time was had by all and that's certainly worth cheering about!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fairy tales and bridal dolls

I bought the new DVD, Tinkerbell, this week because I know both girls love their fairy stories. Hannah and I hung out on Saturday and she got to watch it first. She has loved Tinkerbell since she was a toddler. I have to admit that the sassy and spunky Tink definitely has something in common with our Hattie Belle.

Sophie had spent the afternoon on a play date seeing a live presentation of Beauty and the Beast. She seemed disappointed, though, that she had missed the Tinkerbell preview at my house. When she asked if she could have a sleepover, I agreed. She has this cute way of begging that melts my heart. Soon we were checking out Pixie Hollow on my computer before snuggling in bed and reading from a grandmother's storybook that a dear friend had given me a few years back. This has become a sleepover ritual. Sophie loves the book and gets to pick the story to be read. Usually, she's almost asleep by the time I finish.

In the morning, we have our favorite breakfast of pancakes and syrup. Somehow, I find myself telling her about my one Barbie doll which was made into a bridal doll for me by my mother's close friend and cousin, Ceil. It was a labor of love, down to the tiniest detail of a blue garter on her leg. The doll was the table decoration for my bridal shower almost forty years ago.

"Babci, can I see it?"

Luckily, I find the old shoe box, my mom's handwriting proclaiming "Bride Doll" on the lid. We unwrap the tissue and Sophie is in awe. Looking at it with her, I suddenly realize what I had long forgotten: Ceil patterned the gown and headpiece and flowers as exact replicas of my own wedding dress. How much work she had put into this doll! Ceil, who was never blessed with children of her own. Ceil, who sent Mrs. Santa Claus letters and Easter Bunny notes to my children as they were growing up, gifts of money wrapped in foil hidden within. In her honor, Jennifer took the name, Cecilia, for confirmation. My mother stood as Jenn's proud sponsor, in memory of the cherished friend she had lost a short time before.

On a whim, I go rummaging once again and find my wedding portrait. Sophie and I compare the doll and me and decide that it is, indeed, a very good match. "She just doesn't have your glasses, Babci."

Sophie sets about making a bed for the doll inside the old shoebox, using one of my mom's handmade doilies. She knows that this Barbie is special, not to be undressed or played with too roughly. After cuddling her a bit, she is content to put her back to sleep.

How beautiful that this gift of love, created two generations ago, comes to life again for another dark-haired charmer, Sophia Mary Rose - she who believes in fairies, pixie dust and dolls who need a cozy place to sleep.

Ceil, who believed in the joy and wonder of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, is still making my children smile. There must be some pixie dust in that old shoebox.

And in heaven, I'm sure.