This past weekend was probably the peak time for December festivities, and it certainly was for me. But it wasn’t all hustle and bustle. I remain amazed at what can fit in the 60 hours between that 6 p.m. Friday beer and that 6 a.m. Monday alarm clock if you plan out weekends ahead of time. I also remain amazed at how relaxed a full weekend can still, at times, feel.
Friday night was my husband’s office holiday party. It was at the Franklin Institute here in Philly. They projected Ben Franklin quotes up on the wall, which I personally enjoyed. Franklin, after all, liked to party, yet was constantly fighting a battle to be disciplined. There is much similarity to how people are at their office holiday parties. The dress was festive. Maybe I can wear it for the next 10 years? We got a taxi home around midnight and stayed up late watching Jon Stewart together and eating pretzels straight out of the bag.
Saturday started mercifully later than it could have. The kids slept until about 8:30. Then we brought the 4-year-old to swim lessons at the Y, and everyone else went to work out or play in the kids room. Santa had stopped by the Y, so we got to see him — slipping in right before his break! — and take a picture.
When we came home, the boys went with my husband to see Frozen. My 2-year-old went down for a nap and I started wrapping presents. I was also there to greet the arrival of the Elf, he of Elf on the Shelf fame. I think that the Elf showing up on December 14 is a perfectly fine tradition. He only needs 10 days of data points in our house to know if the kids have been naughty or nice. They were quite excited to see him and read the story, and we’ve definitely been invoking the elf. However, when I showed up at home at 2 a.m. early Sunday morning and the elf had not moved, I was not in a festive mood.
Why was I showing up at 2 a.m.? I elected to go into NYC on Saturday for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus annual Christmas concert. I’m the president of the Board of Directors, so it’s good to be there, but it was kind of a haul in the snow storm. My train was delayed by an hour — but mostly while we were on it, so I couldn’t grab an earlier one from Philly. The NYC streets were slushy, and I waded through because there was no way to get a taxi. But still, there were moments of absolute beauty. First on the way there I was captivated by the delis selling blue flowers. In the snow! When I moved to NYC a dozen years ago, this was one of my first observations of the city: the corner delis sold blue flowers at all hours of the night. And here they were in the snow, too. In NYC, if you need blue flowers in the middle of the night in the snow, you can get them. And then the concert itself was amazing. I want to commute back to NYC every Tuesday night for rehearsal now. The repertoire was fairly simple — they elected not to go experimental this time — but it was profound in its simplicity. I always love that line in How Can I Keep From Singing that goes “All things are mine since Truth I’ve found.” It tends to be the climactic moment in choral arrangements of the piece, and the chorus did it some expansive justice. You just close your eyes and drink it in with your ears.
The trip home was hard, though. I left the after-party at 10:30 p.m. (10 minutes after getting there), and waded through the Santas there for SantaCon to get to Penn Station in the freezing rain. My train started out just 10 minutes delayed, but ended up more like 45 minutes, with half that delay happening on the train again. We got into Philly at 1:20 a.m. or so. I got home around 1:50 because I was driving slowly in the freezing rain. I walked into the living room and the *#$% elf was still sitting where it was. Perhaps my children’s other parent didn’t quite appreciate the concept that the elf is supposed to move every night. (Or, perhaps, the children terrorized him and refused to go to bed and he just collapsed — hard to know!) The elf swiftly moved about 2 feet and I called it a night.
Even sleeping until 8 a.m. didn’t quite feel restful. Fortunately, my husband made breakfast: cinnamon rolls, bacon, pancakes. It was quite the spread. We rustled all the children to church, though this was quite the undertaking. No one had had a bath in quite a while so I got them all washed up. They complained the whole time. But the service was nice, with one of my favorite Advent carols (People Look East — it’s French and very upbeat, but also has some profound lyrics: “Birds though you long have ceased to build, guard the nest that must be filled! Even the hour when wings are frozen, God for fledging time has chosen…” It’s a nice little image of hope in the dead of winter). We came home and got on our snow pants and went outside to play in the snow. We went sledding in the backyard, and looked at all the icicles. It’s cool to pull them off leaves and have ice in the shape of the leaf. We have a few of those in the freezer now.
The 2-year-old went down for a nap, and I took a nap too. A 2-hour one! Then I read to the 4-year-old for a while as the 2-year-old continued to sleep (it was a sleepy afternoon). Then we played and read more stories until dinner. I made milkshakes afterwards.
So on one hand, the weekend sounds busy: the office party, a trip to NYC for a concert, a trip to the Y, sledding, church, a movie for the kids. But on the other hand, there were some pretty low key moments too: the nap, story reading. I also read a whole novel on the train to NYC! (Glaciers; I’ll review it in my newsletter for January). The mosaic of a weekend can contain many pieces, and it’s by looking at all the pieces that you get the complete picture of life.
How was your weekend? And do you do Elf on the Shelf?