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i'm the christmas person in our home. if i didn't set it up, it wouldn't happen. this year, the day we were scheduled to decorate, every time i'd pass bella or alex, they'd eagerly ask if it was time yet? and if i was going to bring christmas up from the basement NOW??? and could they help? and when, oh when, were we going to do it? this onslaught of energy told me this year's chore would place extra demands on me and because of this, i found myself slow to start.

once i finally placed the christmas bins in the living room, it took great effort to bridle alex and bella's enthusiasm. i fought it at first trying to slow them down so i could take my measured approach to things, but lacking the strength or patience, i finally relented to their passion. i took a seat on the couch and observed as they decided how to best proceed. i worked to not say anything unless asked. it's odd when you stop being a parent and just watch your children as children, how different they look. bella and alex worked together admirably, with manners, kindness even, taking turns hanging ornaments and not berating the other for doing it differently than they would have done. in some respects, they were nearly unrecognizable.

while sitting on the couch watching them slowly construct the scene, i considered the transitory nature of this. it would never be just like this again. each year will slowly erode the innocence and purity of their enthusiasm until the year i will ache to have them here, in my living room, again participating in this annual event. what moments earlier seemed like a grand inconvenience now struck me as a scene i would forever covet. at the peak of my sentimentality, bella standing atop a step-stool reaching high in the tree lost her balance and nearly collapsed the whole thing and alex attempting to help her right herself dropped an ornament, one of my favorites, and i heard/saw/felt it shatter against the wooden floor closely followed by bella announcing "i'm alright, it's alright, everything's fine" and just like that, my wispy mood was dashed like the splintered ornament. i passively looked at them, their faces turned to me, seeing how i would react to this mishap and i calmly said "good save bell. try again." and she did. and it worked. and just like that we moved forward.

i hope to more often remember how temporary my children, as they exist at each moment, truly are because we all know, from experience, how fleeting this time is.

DEC2006

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