Christmas 2013

Christmas was busy, and it was snow, and it was family. And it was tiny new additions to the family. More on that later.

We decorated the tree the same day we had the photos with Santa done. The only drawback was that the tree we’d chosen (all tied upon the lot, of course) was lovely and full and bushy. So full, in fact, that it took up a quarter of our tiny living room. My spinning wheel needed to be moved into the hallway for the holidays, and the furniture had to be Tetris-ed in. But as ginormous as the tree is, it smelled and looked fabulous! And there was plenty of room for all our lovely ornaments.

On the night before the winter solstice we told the kids they’d each get a Yule present to open the next day, and we talked about welcoming back the sun. We talked about how it was the longest night, and how once upon a time people must have despaired that the sun would ever come back as the nights got longer and longer. We said that we lit candles to shine like little suns to help the sun find its way through the dark on that longest night and return to us the next dawn. Then we lit our candles before they went to bed and said a prayer for the sun to be strong and brave, and Owlet was terribly excited. I’d forgotten how much Sparky loved doing candles for things when he was her age. (She was so excited that she asked to do it for her nap the next day, and the next two nights at bedtime, as well.)

The next morning, we all got up, blew out the candles and said “Yay, sun! You did it! Thank you, sun!” and Owlet wandered around while we made breakfast, randomly shouting, “Yay, sun!” and “Thank you, sun!”

After breakfast Sparky asked if they could open their presents. They each had a wrapped book under the tree. Owlet got a Sandra Boynton Christmas book (with Pookie in it! Well, it isn’t identified as Pookie, but it’s totally Pookie). Sparky got a handbook for taking care of rabbits. He was very pleased, saying that now he could be ready when he got his rabbit once he turned ten, which was the going deal.

But I asked him if he thought he could read it in five minutes instead, to be ready. He looked at me, not understanding. So we told him he was going to visit one of HRH’s students to choose a rabbit of his very own, and he couldn’t quite believe it. We all piled in the car and drove over, and we all sat on the floor with a litter of ten eight-week-old dwarf Netherland bunnies hopping around and over us, grey and cinnamon and black and tan, and it was the best fun. They were so very well socialized that they hopped right into our laps and cuddled, and didn’t freak out a bit when Owlet picked them up and carried them around the way toddlers all pick up four-legged beasties, around the chest and tummy. After much deliberation and interacting with each one to see whose temperament was best suited to him, Sparky came home with this one, who was the smallest of them all.

Meet Solstice, everyone. His back is dark like the night, and his tummy is light like the sun. He is calm and loving, and I don’t think Sparky put him down all day after we got home. Which is fine by Solstice, apparently, who is happy to snuggle.

We’d been sitting on this secret for over a month, buying a huge secondhand cage and the supplies required bit by bit, so we’re pretty thrilled at how it went over. Sparky was warned that because this big present was so big, he wasn’t to expect any of the big things on his Christmas list, and he was so happy it didn’t even make him pause. Sparky and Solstice were pretty much inseparable for the entire Christmas break. If the rabbit wasn’t in his arms or lap, it was next to him in a laundry basket with some toys and hay while Sparky played video games. The rabbit met everyone at the door as soon as they walked in, held out by an excited Sparky who was eager to share his new buddy. He’s a bright and cheerful little thing, who loves to do that neat jump/kick thing happy bunnies do, and to scamper from one end of the bed to the other as fast as he can. He’s fine with the cats, although Minerva is a bit overeager with him, wanting to tussle roughly like she would with a kitten, and Gryff is kind of a bit scared, to be honest. He has visibly grown in just a couple of weeks, and now has a little cinnamon patch between his shoulder blades at the back of his neck, like a little sun. It’s adorable. And Solstice loves just hanging out.

He is very patient, too.

Christmas Day was great. We had both sets of grandparents with us, and it was a genuinely lovely day. I forgot to brine the turkey, but it was acceptably tender despite that. There were new clothes, and books, and video games (including the new Skylanders Swap Force set that Sparky had wanted but had figured wasn’t going to happen since he’d gotten Solstice instead, and which he’d already finished by the end of the holidays, yikes). And Her Owletship’s big gift was a lovely soft cloth doll from Pottery Barn Kids, and a doll bed HRH built for her, with bedding that I sewed for it:

It’s a miniature of her own bed, see?

I was spoiled with cookbooks and new knitting needles and a lovely sweater, a miraculous thermal tumbler that keeps tea hot for hours, and gift certificates for more books and tea. It was hard to focus on things and keep up with the unwrapping, since I spent most of my time facilitating the kids’ experiences, and I ended up with a small pile of gifts to open on my own at the end. One that wasn’t under the tree was the Apple TV that HRH and I bought ourselves on crazy sale halfway through December. We are very impressed with the home network streaming, the cleaner interface with Netflix, and the ability to rent movies from iTunes. It works very well for our needs.

The weather was clear, sunny, and cold, so there were no walks through the neighbourhood, but the company was wonderful, the food supplied by everyone was delicious, the day rolled along smoothly, and we feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with both sides of the family like this. And then we had a few friends over on the Saturday, which was lovely, too, and on the Sunday we gathered with the Preston-LeBlancs in their new house for our annual Yule singalong, and all our wonderful holiday traditions were complete. We feel very, very blessed.

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