Wednesday, January 4, 2012

the other side of the holiday card

If you received our holiday card and think everything's swell over here, let me clarify:

Lilly went to summer school and nature camp and music camp over the summer. So she was prepared and very eager to start at her Montessori preschool. Every day she looks forward to school. We are proud of her and have heard many telling reports about how happy she is there, very social but also concentrated on her work.

This is all true, but fails to mention that Lilly has been sick with one cold after another all fall long, ending on a big note with an eye infection on the first day of the holiday break, after which followed strep throat symptoms. She remains under the weather.

Anne has more time to write, now that Lilly is at school every morning. She completed translating a manuscript into English, and is shopping it around at publishers. She has had very encouraging feedback from an agent and even a request for a proposal for her second book. All the time and effort she has put into creating her online platform—including three of her own websites—is starting to pay off, as she is now being sought out in both the US and Norway.

Also all true, but fails to mention all the stress of first cramming to get my first book done, after which followed the agonizing pain of waiting. And the mountain of books and DVDs piled up to review, in addition to the numerous articles and yes, more books that I'm eager to write. And then that book in which the agent has expressed interest. There's a lot of work that needs to be done in that department too. On top of my blogs and efforts to maintain an online presence. While I've also been run down, getting all of Lilly's colds, plus a sinus infection, which I'd never had before.

Leighton got a job! After studying one too many years as a graduate student, it was time. Actually, he took an internship at a local non-profit; one thing led to another, and he was promoted and promoted again. He is the director of and developing services that support families who have children with developmental disabilities; coordinating volunteers; writing grants; marketing programming; working directly with clients; and much more.

All true, but there are at least two problems with this scenario. Firstly, as you might pick up on from his report, he's juggling a lot of too many tasks and responsibilities. It's great that his employer can recognize how talented he is, but simply passing on more for him to manage the more they trust and respect him, without rearranging his hours to allow more time for the added work, can only result in stress. And the pay does not do his work right.

Add all of the above to our other stressors, from childhood ghosts to fears about the future, and you have a more three-dimensional understanding of where we're at around here. It's all good and bad.

Which is why I also considered titling this post, we were sick over the holidays, and so what?!

Because of course I got Lilly's pink eye on Christmas day. And then the strep throat symptoms followed shortly after. I'm lying in bed as I write this, still under the weather.

But you know what? We had a very lovely holiday week together, just the three of us. After a good cry on the morning of Christmas eve, flushed with memories of Christmases as a child, the hopes and expectations, the sadness and disappointments, I lit a candle for peace. And for the rest of the holiday, I focused on having just that with my family. Peace. Breathe. Love.

Yes, it sucked to give Lilly eye drops, seeing the panic in her eyes. When I had wanted everything to be sweet and magical for her the way it never was for me.

We included those traditions that are meaningful to me and special to her, including dancing and singing around the tree, this time just the three of us. And we burnt candles in every room and played games in front of the fire place. 

When I felt like I could barely drag myself out of bed, my body sore and aching, we went for a walk in the mild winter sunshine, and all was fine.

When Leighton went back to work, Lilly and I did little projects together, like making a gnome from a cone. We played more games. And we ready many books.

And we watched movies together. Like Annie, snuggled together on the couch. And The Muppets, Lilly's first time at the movie theater. Just watching the expression on her face looking at the big screen, was priceless. Her favorite part of the movie? When they characters would erupt into dance and song.

On New Year's Eve, we went out for lunch at Salut, a brasserie that's as enchanting to her as it is to us (it's the one holiday tradition Leighton and I've held onto since before we were married). And at night, we had a party in our pajamas, meaning we decorated the house with balloons and wore hats (what Lilly wanted, because of a picture on her calendar illustrating New Year's Eve). We sipped champagne and I made an effort to make a special meal. And then we sung in front of the tree again, because it seemed like the right thing to do.


  1. For various reasons, we have been alone (just our nuclear family of 4) for the holidays for a few years now. I always feel like a complete oddity--everyone's always asking where we're going ("nowhere") or who's coming to visit us ("oh, then who's coming to your house?"). I'm glad to hear we're not alone in this situation! Also--the getting sick is the worst. Julia and I get pinkeye a lot--we've had it many times in this household! And I get a bad sinus infection about once a year. Ugh! Feel better soon--I know how you feel!

  2. This just really touched me, Anne - what a lovely spirit and a sweet holiday - sickness, closeness, tiredness and a feeling of calmness - mixed - just the way things are when you are a family:) lots of love to you

  3. Thanks, Shannon! Seems a lot is going around in town right now, from eye- to throat- and ear infections.

    Leighton and I have always preferred to spend the holidays just us, even before we had Lilly, creating our own traditions with less emotional (and physical, I suppose too!) baggage.

  4. Thank you, Daisy! We would actually really appreciate that. We're around all weekend.

    P.S. I actually appreciate this mild weather; I only wish we could be outside enjoying it more. But it lowers the heating bills and makes the necessary errands that much easier.

  5. Anne, so sorry you have been sick so long! We were lucky to avoid the flu breakout at my parents' house, but only now are getting some time at our own house to recover from the holiday travels. It sounds like the sickness allowed you to stay in and do cozy things together without feeling like you should be working all the time. Too bad it is not snowy out so we can feel that much cozier.

    I am going to drop off some soup for you this weekend. Sounds like you need some! Hope you are feeling better soon! oh, and yes I did try making the spiced red wine, but we didn't get to IKEA for the mix so it did not taste nearly as good as yours.

  6. great. will drop off after nap, maybe 4:30 or 5:00.

  7. Thank you, Gine! And for capturing the sentiment so succinctly. Love back to you.


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