When we had a lay-over in Charlotte the other week on our way to our family Thanksgiving, I used the time to stretch my legs and took little Smilla on a walk through the terminal. My brave little toddler strode through the crowd in front of me, as if a busy airport on a Wednesday afternoon is the most normal thing in the world for her. Just as I was thinking, what a wonderful tiny being she is, a lady knocked her over with her trolley. Smilla looked at her with big eyes. I was getting ready to say "oh now worries, she is fine" - but actually, an apology never came out of the traveling lady's mouth. Instead she muttered "Out of the way, after all I have places to be".
Too often these days before Christmas I also find myself thinking "I have places to be". The post office. The grocery store. So many errands to run. The parking lots are packed. The streets are always full. People are running around like crazy hens, filling their shopping carts with more stuff that no one actually needs. My husbands co-worker found himself in a battle over the last vacuum cleaner at the store yesterday!
Wether you are religious or not, wether you celebrate the holidays out of love for Jesus, or simply due to tradition - isn't all this hectic the exact opposite of the Christmas spirit?
This holiday season is very special. Little Smilla is pointing at every light, at every shining star. Her eyes sparkle when she sees the flickering candle light. For the first time, she is taking it all in. She truly puts the magic back into the holidays for me. And so it is for her, that I am trying my best to slow down Christmas time.
What is the truest of all presents I could get her? It is time, isn't it? You don't have to order it on amazon. No need to worry about wrapping. It doesn't even have a price tag. Yet, it is one of the rarest gifts to get your hands on these days.
We've made an effort, to take longer walks in the mornings again, despite my growing belly and my growing exhaustion. We look at frosted over leaves, watch our breath in the cold air and enjoy the feeling of warmth hitting us, as we come back to our cozy nest.
The other day, she got to ride on my sister's pony through the chilly Bavarian morning forrest and we stopped only to decorate a small fir with ornaments. Smilla stood in front of the tree, clapping wildly at every ornament she successfully hung herself. Before we rode off, we sang "oh Christmastree" together, followed by more clapping. I can't remember the last time I felt so much joy.
Every night before bed, we gather around the rocking chair in the nursery and sing Christmas songs together. After every tune she will say "ditte mama singa" (her way of saying "please mama sing" in toddler-German). She says it with the softest voice, but also with great urgency and the hopeful anticipation that I will start singing the next song out of our songbook. No words have ever sounded sweeter in my ear. My soul is so full, when I look at her, and my husband humming along, and I feel the baby kick under my heart.
On Sunday, we baked some gingerbread woodland animals. Her first time baking cookies. Excitedly she rolled out the dough with me, put her fingers in the flour bowl and helped me cut out the animals. Now, to let her "be" and have the fullest experience is always a bit of a messy situation. However, I'm finally getting over myself. Relaxing in the comfort that every spill, can easily be cleaned up after. And so when we had some cookies and milk today, I just let her have a go at it. Gigantic milk spill included. It may have been her favorite moment of the day.