Whether you buy into the hype or not, Christmas seems to demand attention even before the Thanksgiving plates and utensils have made it to the drying rack. From there the anticipation builds and builds (especially if you have children) until there's no possibility that the day can live up to its billing.
And just like that, even if it did prove a lovely occasion (and, thankfully, this year it did), it's gone again.
Falling as it did this year on a Saturday, the holiday was kind enough to deliver another day of rest before kicking us back to the curb that is the work week (unless you're my wife who headed immediately back to the "office").
Knowing that Lindsay would be leaving for her shift at the hospital in the early afternoon, I had set the alarm for just before 5:30 AM to make sure I got in my miles without disrupting her day. I'd received a pair of New Balance MT101's from my sister the day before and had excused myself for an hour to put them immediately to the test. They'd seemed, right out of the box, like familiar friends and I was eager to see how the felt on a return trip.
I met up with Jefferson just prior to 6:00 and we did our customary catching up while stretching, tying laces, donning headlamps, letting the GPS locate a satellite and such. Between my wanting to get back in a timely fashion and Jeff's careful monitoring of a yet to be fully diagnosed leg issue, we decided to just do one small segment of the criss-crossing sections of trail that overlap with the Horseshoe Trail, Camp Mack and the surrounding state game lands.
In a little less than an hour, we'd put in just under 4.5 miles, including a couple of challenging climbs and some speedy downhills. I'd been a bit tentative because of having switched to a more compact headlamp and immediately missing the brightness and sharpness of my usual light. Otherwise, I felt great and was further convinced that I'd found a minimalist shoe that almost perfectly mirrored my foot.
I arrived home just as Lily emerged from her bedroom, rubbing the last of the sleep from her big blue eyes and affixing her customary rise-and-shine grin. We agreed to spend the whole day in PJ's and I tucked her into the couch, turned on Thomas the Tank Engine and hurried off for a shower.
As I stepped out of the shower, I heard Piper Bea singing softly to herself from her bedroom. She was surprisingly chipper for one who does not normally take kindly to the arrival of morning. I changed her diaper and clued her in on the lounge-about plans.
Naptime arrived in what felt like mere minutes. We'd read countless books, test-driven a bevy of new toys, hounded the dog and even played demolition derby with a pair of unsuspecting baby strollers. I received no protests as I placed Pipe in her crib and ushered big sister Lily to her room for her "rest". Lindsay was still sound asleep and, seeing no need to sabotage her slumber, I settled into the couch for a nap of my very own. I do not remember the last time I dared such a luxury and it was exquisite.
I roused the girls and remembered (how could I forget?!?) the camera I'd been given the day before. While I hardly qualify as a "photographer", I do enjoy taking pictures and had endured a painful stretch after dropping and breaking my camera back on Halloween. My mother, who had originally gifted me that camera and witnessed first-hand its destruction, was kind enough to give me a model that was its specific update, sparing me my normal agonizing learning curve upon acquiring a new camera.
Piper, refusing to part with a new companion, was placed in her high chair. Click.
Lily joined me in enjoying a bowl of soup. Click.
Soup can be messy and tubby time wasn't far behind. Another photo op.
A return to pajamas found us waving goodbye to Mom and hoping that impending weather wouldn't leave her stranded at work overnight. After she was gone, we played and played. We watched birds at the feeders, oohed at the falling snow and played some more. The day, a rare specimen that saw little bickering between my two spirited daughters, passed swiftly.
After putting Piper down for the night and singing songs and reading a few last books to Lil, I discovered that Clouseau had also decided to turn in.
Which left me, still in my pajama bottoms and slippers, to decide what to do with the rest of my evening. So here I sit, with my legs kicked up, a tall glass of ginger ale, a newly warmed slice of apple pie (Mom's recipe, my execution) researching the reported update to the aforementioned MT101 and hoping that New Balance doesn't undue perfection.
Even if they do, it's just a shoe. And they can't take away this perfect day.