Today was the first day of Papa’s leave, and we needed to work on cleaning the house before we can get our tree. Bringing a tree into a messy house just seems wrong, doesn’t it? I feel like cleaning the house is an important part of Christmas, the first step of getting ready. Then decorating. Then baking and cooking. I don’t want to suggest that our house was filthy before today, or that it’s pristine now. If Martha Stewart crossed the threshold of our humble ranch home, I have no doubt she would slowly, slowly back out to a safe distance. And then turn and run. But it is the act of cleaning that matters. The act of making things nice. It feels special.
So we put away clutter, we dusted, we vacuumed, we cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen floor. I wash pillow covers, sofa and chair covers. It’s enough to feel right getting the tree tomorrow and decorating. But on the down low I’ll keep cleaning. I’ll wash all the bedding, I’ll put away as much clutter as I can and clean my desk, I’ll rake the front yard and clean out the carport, I’ll wash all of the counters and cabinet fronts in the kitchen, I’ll make the back bedroom where our guests will be staying as nice as I can. It’s a real part of my celebration, and a real part of how I tell my family how much I love them.
In terms of the kids’ day, they started getting back in the swing of their routine. I made the beds for Boy, but he took the dog out to play. The did a lot to help clean; dusting and tidying. A friend gave Girl a dollhouse that belonged to her daughter, a really large heavy duty one; Girl got it in her head that she wanted to put it in a pretty place in the back yard so she could bring her dolls out there to play. I double checked with our friend that this wouldn’t hurt their feelings, but she didn’t seem to mind, so out into the back yard the house went. Girl carried a bin of Calico Critters out back and played for an hour. She really loved it.
In the late afternoon both kids went to their ballet classes, but Papa took them so I could work on things here.
Girl came home weeping like her heart was broken.
I should mention that Girl has very long hair, and it’s very beautiful. It is her pride. She says she wants to grow it down to her feet, and in every picture she draws, she draws herself with the longest hair. Often flowing all around the page. But evidently tonight another girl in her ballet class took her hair out of her bun before leaving the studio. Her hair was longer than Girl’s. And everyone said how beautiful it was (Girl recounted to me tearfully). She said, between sobs, that I had always told her that she had the longest most beautiful hair in the world. She said she thought that was what made her special. Of course I told her that everything about her made her special, not just her hair. But mostly I just tried to sympathize with how she was feeling without trying to talk her out of it.
After Girl calmed down (which happened suddenly and completely, as is usually her way) they got into jammies and ate some Nutcracker chocolates (from the traditional exchange of small gifts between dancers). Papa had promised Girl a ‘slumber party’ (a story and watching YouTube cartoons with Papa in bed–it was something Papa and Boy used to do every Friday night, and Girl cried foul), so I read to Boy in his bed alone. We have been reading Donna Jo Napoli’s book of Egyptian Myths, and we both like it a lot. It’s very well written and the illustrations are great. Plus, Egyptian myths are just really cool. Boy asked me to rub his back, and I could tell he was pretty happy about not having to share my attention with Girl. My little guy, with his crazy long arms and legs.
They are getting so big, so fast.