It is a few days before Christmas, and it seems a natural time to reflect on things we are grateful for, and to look for magic in unexpected places.
As summer ended I told your dad that I was feeling festive this year, and wanted to do something magical in the week leading up to Christmas. “In fact,” I said, “How about an idyllic city christmas?”
Your dad agreed.
There are two cities that I really enjoy being in around Christmas time, and New York is in driving distance, so we booked a hotel.
Our vacation began perfectly with pizza for dinner. We woke up on our first morning to snuggle in the hotel bed for hours. We watched a little TV, but mostly chatted and tickled and cuddled. All four of us.
We were all laughing and happy and relaxed.
We took in all of the sights and you both enjoyed every one of them. The windows at Lord and Taylor were enchanting, and both of you laughed and squealed with glee upon seeing them. I was amazed by how much of the detail you noticed.
The best night of the trip though, was our last.
Right across from our hotel was Bryant Park; a city park transformed into an idyllic winter wonderland for the holiday season. A Christmas tree beautifully decorated in blue and white lights overlooked the entire scene, and tastefully chosen holiday music playing at the perfect volume solidified the scene.
It was as though we had walked into an ideal “city Christmas”, one so perfect it seemed as though it were created as a set.
Owen, you wanted to go skating so badly on the rink constructed for the winter season that was right in the middle of it all- and daddy and I understood why. It was magical.
Because it was so late, you were the only two young children still out. Sydney and I watched as you and daddy skated and skated. Sydney entertained the onlookers with her dynamic dance moves and chatted with all sorts of passersby. She nursed while sitting under the tree, and every time you and daddy skated by us, you stopped to chat.
The smile on your face was breathtaking.
With few exceptions, everything about this Christmas vacation was exactly as I’d hoped for.
What was unexpected though, is that I did not spend much time looking at the sites we had come to see. I spent my time observing something far more magical; my two beautiful children.
I could not help but smile fully as I watched you two. You pointed out interesting things to each other, instinctually picked up items dropped by strangers, and wished many a “Merry Christmas.”
I watched as you saw the carrousel turning in the cold Christmas air, and I inhaled your smile.
I witnessed your enchantment by the Christmas scenes displayed in the store fronts, and knelt down to put my arms around you and squeeze you.
I smiled with your awe upon viewing Rockefeller Center, with all of its lights and perfectly spaced Christmas angels, and kissed your cold, Christmas-y cheeks.
And it was all of these moments, and many, many more that fulfilled my wishes for an idyllic City Christmas. My joy did not come from where I expected, and I suppose it would not have mattered if we were in New York, Chicago, or Boise.
I left feeling grateful that these moments are endless for us. We are at the beginning of our time together, and the joy that we will experience is limitless.
While I do not know what next Christmas will bring, I do know that the magic from this one has infiltrated me. It has seeped into the deepest part of me, and I think it has in you, too.
When we go to Mass on saturday evening and daddy and I chase our toddler around, wondering if there is really any point in attending, I will know that there is.
Because I will be thanking God for each of you, and celebrating the birth of Mary’s child. I will pray to Him that the joy of our little family continues, and that I always remember to look for magic in unexpected places.