I made it an absolute that Christmas lights, stockings, and an advent calendar were going up this year. It seems that life altering events cement the desire for traditions, setting new ones, creating old ones. Perhaps you’ve gotten married, adopted a dog, had your first baby. Traditions set the rhythm of the year, their steady recurrence a promise that we’re starting or ending seasons with celebration. We spent so many holidays during our childhood walking through Candy Cane Lane, a neighborhood ablaze with its synchronistic commitment to over-the-top light displays; while I didn’t necessarily long for the 60 ft Snoopy towering over my roof, I loved the California winter wonderlands twinkling in the trees as we walked through hot cocoa in hand. The plans to bundle up (okay, Midwestern friends, cue your laughs) signaled to me that we were commemorating something together again. Traditions.
I remember staring at myself in a dressing room mirror a few months after Haley was born, trying to figure out who the girl in the reflection was. She looked like me, but felt strangely distant from the person I thought I was. I stood there, very still, for a good several minutes, willing myself to see past those tired eyes and postpartum baby hairs growing wildly along my part. You’re a mom now,” I told myself, “but not just a mom.” I tried grasping at any sort of concrete identity, but it all felt so elusive, so undefinable.
For our 5th anniversary last year, Clarence built me a raised garden bed. It's appropriately known as the wood anniversary, he said (love you, husband). I had just taken a gardening class with a dear friend and suddenly the one sunny patch along the side of our house brimmed with endless possibilities of kale, cauliflower, herbs, and carrots and I quickly began (over)planting for all of the things nature would give us. Let's chat another time about how many of those things survived, but tenacity has always been on my side so this new season's crop attempt brought a new round of vegetables along with a lime and lemon tree.
Our family has been given the unexpected opportunity to move into a bigger home this season, an abundant provision that we don’t deserve. We’re filled with gratitude, cautiously hopeful for a little more space, a little more sanity. It’s been so much fun walking through homes, imagining how we might use or reinvent each space. A backyard for planting trees and hosting friends, a formal dining room repurposed into a playroom, a sweet hallway nook transformed into a reading corner for our budding bookworm.
Lately, my 3-year-old has been engaging in a nightly battle of I don’t wanna go to bed. My weapon of choice has been threats of her Elsa Halloween costume heading straight back to Amazon with the delivery man (mamas, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, yes??). Her whining and inching towards the door signals further opposition. Charlotte, you’ll have to walk your school Halloween parade without a costume if you’re not in bed. Now. That usually has her leaping back under her covers. Surrender, till it starts up again the next night. Oh yes, I can resist this face.
A close friend’s wedding in New York last week was the perfect excuse for a mini-trip for our family, a timely getaway in the midst of a heavy season of soul searching. Though worlds apart from our cozy life in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, New York still holds such a special place in our hearts and our story. We spent the first two years of our marriage there - eating our way through NYC, spending long weekends camping in the Catskills or exploring a new east coast city, weathering the intensity of PA school, learning our rhythm as husband and wife.
You may have seen glimpses on Instagram, but we’re definitely a Christmas in July (perhaps even more like March) kind of business. There are catalogs to be prepared, newsletters slated, products sent into production. Every year, we’re mindful of the tension as we anticipate the big buying season that sustains our business all the while wanting to be thoughtful, minimal consumers ourselves. We, too, want to push back against the waste and pollution that comes with large-scale manufacturing, considering what we truly need and don’t.
We’ve officially entered toddler land, where things nosedive from sweet to sour in about .5 seconds. This morning: a perfectly pleasant morning at our local park followed by a full-blown tantrum once we pulled into the driveway two minutes later. The cause? Will never know, haha. We’re also navigating the ever-present “mine!” - a cry for ownership, a claim on her newly discovered autonomy. I vacillate between wanting to affirm that yes, that bottle (toy, bracelet, hair tie, book, sticker) is hers, that her personhood is significant, and attempting to teach her a deeper truth: everything we have is meant to be shared.