We had a pretty darn magical December around here, I have to say. Two and Four are good ages for Christmas magic, and their father and I squeezed in every little bit of sparkle that we could into one month. The second weekend of December saw us enjoying Breakfast with Santa at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear – my second visit to that stunning bayside hostelry in as many weeks, if you recall. (You probably don’t.) A spread of beignets, waffles, grits (cheese or plain), ham, sausage, eggs (scrambled or omelet), doughnuts, toast, fruit, bagels, muffins, cereal, pastries, and I-can’t-remember-what-else was laid out on a large, central buffet area, displayed around an enormous gingerbread village complete with puffing toy train. The boys behaved beautifully – it helped that it was a buffet with pre-reserved seating times, and thus there was no wait before they could dive into their grapes and ham. After we ate ourselves into a stupor, we stood in a modest line to have our picture with Santa, paid an exorbitant amount for prints, and then headed home to sleep off some calories.
That evening a sitter came and we went to my company Christmas party. Our firm has a huge party in late January, planned for that time so as not to conflict with other holidays. But our local office holds its own Christmas-time bash at the home of one of the partners each year, and ours was that Saturday night. I ate my weight in prime rib and fancy cheese, drank a couple of champagne cocktails, and then we headed home to relieve our baby$itter before the night advanced too deeply into the wee hours. The next day we had burgers after church with a lovely church family, new friends who we very much like, at an outdoor dive-bar in the glorious 65 degree weather. After heading home for naps, that evening we took the kids out for seafood with ANOTHER new friend-from-church-family at ANOTHER outdoor dive-bar, this one right on the water, and then went to a most interesting Christmas attraction. This is basically an R.V. park that is lit up with lights, and the old folks who live there run a little miniature train that you ride out to a barn where Santa sits and where kids can do a craft. It was . . . odd. But the kids loved it, and it was some redneck Southern merriment that we enjoyed observing. It was rainy that evening but we went anyway, and I’m glad we did, because it was a sight to see. This place also runs the train for Halloween, and you could tell that some of the displays under the trees are just the Halloween monsters with Santa hats on. So weird, but fun, and even if it wasn’t Bellingrath-Gardens-level of professionalism, we were happy to spend the time with new friends.
Tuesday I got to leave the office and go on-site for some witness interviews for a case we’re doing. It was super fun – I got some face time with clients, I got out of the office, I got to explore some of the backwoods of Alabama, which is always a fun time . . . (This is part of why I wanted to be a lawyer, actually. I get sick of the same four walls all of the time, and I think heading off to court, or to site visits, off-site depositions, and the like will really help sustain my easily-bored little office-worker self.) Moving along the week, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we had various client-appreciation Christmas lunches at various places, which were all delicious and enjoyable. It was at this point that I ceased tracking my calories on my iPhone, and just gave up and enjoyed the bounteous food.
Thursday evening we took the children to a little thing they traditionally hold at our church. The kids come dressed in their pjs, and curl up on blankets on the floor in the fellowship hall with hot cocoa and cookies. Adult church members play instruments and lead them in carols, read Christmas books, and then a visitor comes to talk to the kids. The yearly visitor used to be Santa til someone complained, and then they switched it to a Biblical figure from the nativity. It was Joseph this year, and he talked a bit long for the age group – we were losing kids left and right – Liam ran up and tried to steal his enormous staff, and we had to take him outside. In any case, it was still really cute, and even though Liam was kind of a pill, we really loved this cozy little tradition. The next day, Friday, I pretended to work for four hours, had lunch, and then went to a day spa and had my first ever facial – a gift from my secretary. She bought it for both of the associates she supports, and we went together, chatting in the quiet room, drinking poinsettias, and then having a lovely treatment. It stung a little bit – they wash your face so many times with so many creams and things – but afterwards my face was straight up GLOWING. Amazing.
Are you bored of reading this yet? Because the fun’s not over! The next day, which was last Saturday, we drove over to New Orleans to see my law school bestie, who had just returned from an epic journey around Eastern Europe and only recently began work at her NOLA firm. We hadn’t seen her in six months, and it was fab to catch up over pizza at our former local hangout. We drove past our old place, and they’ve done some nice things to the front (painted the door and added a really nice house number). We took the kids back to the Professor’s little hideaway apartment for naps, and the adults enjoyed champagne and conversation by the pool while we waited for the babies to wake up. Afterwards, we all drove to Jackie’s house for pasta, and then to Celebration in the Oaks for a very crowded, very redneck good time. (So. Much. Spandex.) We’ve seen this lights-in-the-park deal every year since moving to New Orleans in 2009, but this was the latest in the season that we’ve ever gone, which meant it was the most crowded we’ve ever seen it, and boy does it get less fun the more people you crowbar in the doors. Still, we enjoyed a carousel ride and a version of the Cajun Night Before Christmas that never ceases to crack my husband up, and then dropped Jackie off at home and headed to our tiny apartment for bed.
The kids slept in til 8 the next day – a Christmas miracle – and then we drove home again for the rest of the holiday. It was stormy from then until after Christmas, so we were pretty much in the house for three days straight. We did venture out for Christmas Eve candlelight service (this post is heavy on the churchy churchy church, but so go the holidays). There was carol singing and candle-lighting, and Jack held his own candle and cried when he was burned with wax. Back home once more, we enjoyed the rigatoni and meatballs meal, then set out cookies, carrots, milk, and a note for Santa. When the boys woke up, they were greeted by a brand new easel (thanks, Santa/Aunt Caki!), a Woody and Buzz Lightyear (ditto, Santa/Dee Dee!), and a Batman and Spiderman, which is what they’d consistently asked for over the last month. They opened brightly colored packages full of books and movies, clothes, a few toys, and some whiteboard markers for their easel.
Later that evening, our Christmas dinner was marred by a serious tornado event in the Gulf Coast. It swept past just a few miles away from us – our lights flickered, the wind howled, and the dog hid under the coffee table. But we never lost power, and despite extensive damage no one in the immediate area was injured, so all in all it could have been worse. After the warnings expired, we tucked the kids into bed, watched Downton Abbey on BluRay – thanks, Mom and Dad! – and then headed to bed ourselves.
Thus went our busy, happy season of friends, food, and togetherness. We did it, but didn’t overdo it, and I enjoyed every weekend moment of this season. I’m back at work today, but with little to do besides study for the fast-approaching Florida bar exam and organize my desk drawers. I have work coming at me, ample billables on the way, so until they arrive I will relax into my work, update my little blog, and enjoy taking a breath before cascading out into the glorious promise of 2013.