This post Christmas week is one of the strangest of the whole year for me. The initial glee and pure exhaustion from all of the build up and secret keeping and memory making followed immediately by the let down. Then the literal clean up, the most massive decor change over of the whole year in anticipation of a new year, the hope of a fresh start, a new beginning.
This year more than ever this all seems so vital. What if I put up my new calendars, flip to January 1 and some kind of magic actually happens? What if this pandemic finally begins to subside and life in 2021 can look more normal again?
I have hope, but sadness too. I feel weary to continue to make plans for my children that might be cancelled, tired of having to say no to so many things, exhausted by the decision making and worry. Staying home in our safe bubble feels like the most comfortable thing right now. I think we'll keep doing that for a while.
One way I'm filling all of my extra time at home is planning my preschool lessons for winter. My favorite way to plan is to focus on books, oodles and oodles of books. Whenever I'm stuck I read and look at beautiful illustrations and the lesson plans just make themselves.
One book that I can't get out of my mind is Fredrick by Leo Leonni. Have you read it? It's about a mouse family preparing for a long winter. Everyone is working so hard to collect food and make their shelter, everyone but Frederick. Frederick is off daydreaming, dinking around. I can FEEL the angst the others have that Frederick isn't pulling his weight. Then winter sets in and they're all cozy and full in their home until the end of winter when they run out of food. Again, I can FEEL the panic and worry the family feels. Will they make it? What can they do?!!! Then Frederick perches himself on a stone and begins to tell stories. The stories and memories and feelings that he collected while the others were doing their own version of preparing for winter. You see, Frederick was preparing too. He knew they'd need the memories of summer and warmth and abundance to get them through. He collected that for his family and shares it with them, and you know what? They make it.
I too find myself drawing on memories more than ever lately. Memories of traveling from Chicago for Christmas, staying with my parents, staying up late every night drinking wine and hanging with my sister and brother in law who also traveled. Memories of my own childhood Christmases, staying up all night in excited agony, the pure magic of Christmas fueling me when sleep couldn't. Memories of travel; readying for study abroad trips in college, studying in Ireland and Italy and Germany. Memories of fearless exploration and fun in new cultures and cities. Memories of beach waves and hot sun and freckled dark skin.
Winter has just begun. It's long and dark and cold. But we have sleds and skates and a fireplace and twinkle lights and memories, and just like the mouse family, we're going to make it.