With Happy Hearts

This pillow encapsulates our Christmas season. And our year, actually. A year with painful goodbyes and stitched up hearts. A year of warmth and growth.

I’ll remember this year as the one where Wells chimed in reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ alternating pages with Fitz and I while Gus listened. I’ll recall how Fitz couldn’t find Scotch tape so he resorted to using a massive shipping tape dispenser to seal our presents. I’ll smile thinking about my daughter sporting a blue bowtie at Christmas Eve service, her little hands proudly holding a candle. I will shake my head in wonder in contemplating how I survived nearly two weeks of endless illnesses and antibiotics.

I couldn’t possibly forget my sister’s Home Alone-themed party (and neither will the internet; I’ve never received more DMs in my life).

I will smile happily thinking of every family dinner, cookie baking, cocktail toast, city excursion, sister date, twinkle lights, and seasonal feasts.

I will wince and then chuckle when I think about how I accidentally discovered a gift from Fitz that was supposed to be a surprise- a special piece of art work that captured my heart. When I hang the painting up in my living room, I know it will provide an amusing story for years to come.

It’s 58 degrees outside today. The furthest thing from a white Christmas (but how wild was our Halloween snowstorm?!). Maybe we’ll ride bikes and take the dog for an extra long stroll.

We are alive. We are breathing. We are moving forward. Later on, over this winter break, the holiday trimmings will be packed away till next year. And everything will be new once again.

City Girl Confessions: The Details that Stay With Us

IMG_6810City Girl Confessions is my recurring column in The Glencoe Anchor.

One of the best parts about living in a city…is escaping it. Yes, I’m a firm believer of restorative exploration and getting out of a comfort zone. If density and skyscrapers are your thing, time to venture to green grasses and quiet evenings. And vice versa: it’s good to dial up the energy by sneaking away to the city lights. 

Years ago, back when I called Chicago home, I craved the occasional escape. It felt good to get away just as it felt good to come back. Would you guess that one of my very favorite times of year to escape the city and soak up the suburbs was early October? 

Driving along residential roads, I would gaze out the window at the various front porches and doorsteps, completely lost in bliss. Each home’s doorstep was fully decked out in seasonal splendor: smooth, round pumpkins, tall corn stalks, little hay bales, and oodles of potted chrysanthemums in shades of gold, orange, and aubergine. 

Call it basic, but these artful doorsteps were an intricate fantasy for me. I didn’t just see jack-o-lanterns and flowers…I saw a vision of what my life could be like. I thought about a doorstep that children would come home to, fresh from the school bus. I thought about trick-or-treaters in October, reaching high on tip-toe to ring the doorbell. I imagined a dog perched near the window and birds in the trees out front. But mostly, I thought about the notion that our front doors really do represent the most beautiful welcome for visitors- whether they be expected, or just driving by while lost in daydreams.

Perhaps that’s why I find myself scooping up armloads of gourds  and positioning potted mums in just the right place. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind stringing orange lights on the bushes. Because there is a weirdly cool feeling that comes from realizing that the thing you fantasized about has come to fruition. The holiday-themed patio? The whimsical decor? The bus stop, the trick-or-treaters, even the birds chirping out the window? I can claim all of it as reality…and it’s a wonderful reality to hold onto and lock away in a memory bank.

I’ll confess: I will always covet returning to my city girl roots. I will always champion restorative exploration. And maybe one day, far into the future, my kids will drive around Glencoe in those early moments of October, and they will look out the window and dream. Whatever the vision, whatever takes hold, it will be theirs to cherish. 

Let us not forget the details that stick around, for it is possible to find significance in something very small. As a new month unfolds itself, someone, somewhere is opening a car door, stepping a foot out in the world, and breaking into a wide smile.