As a kid, my favorite part of Christmas was decorating the tree, turning on the lights, and then sliding underneath the branches to inhale deeply and gaze up at the sparkling specks of light shining through the deep green needles. Up until now, Taran has been just a little too little to appreciate much about Christmas, but this year is so different. When we first turned on the lights to our christmas tree he threw his arms up over his head and in a rather Tiny Tim-like voice cried out "Merry Christmas". He capered back and forth between the ornament box and the christmas tree, piling snowman, angel, octopus, avocado (yes we have an avocado ornament on our tree. If you know Joe, you know why), all on a single sagging branch. Of course, being the vaguely OCD person that I am, I encouraged him to spread the ornament love equally through the tree while I sneakily did a little rearranging myself.
His pupils seemed to dilate so wide with excitement that his eyes turned into the deepest, darkest night with the lights reflecting like stars.
Another of my favorite things about Christmas is the Nutcracker. I took ballet for years and even performed in it - as a mouse. I recall staring out longingly from the mesh eye holes of my ugly, gray mouse costume at Clara's lovely ringlets and the beautiful mille-feuille tutus of the waltzing flowers. Alas, I never achieved anything more than mouse status in the annual gala. I was more heart than talent, more bony elbows and knees than graceful limbs.
But to this day, whenever I hear the Nutcracker music, I waltz gaily around the house, knocking into chairs and lamps as I spin and leap about. And this is the other bit of magic that I've watched being breathed into Taran. Every night before bed for the last two weeks, Taran and I have snuggled up and watched snippets of the Royal Ballet's version of the Nutcracker and he's loved it. I've always thought of the main character as Clara, but in a book we bought of the Nutcracker, her name is Marie. Taran has been intermittently pretending that he is Clara and Marie and making up all sorts of stories about his day. "Clara is taking a bath", "Baby Marie (aka Taran) had a bonk, but don't worry Mama Marie (me) will scoop him up and kiss him". Aah yes I will little Marie. With relish.
[I love this development in his imaginative play. Throughout the day he transforms into various characters - people he knows and sees every day, characters in books, Yo Yo Ma...]
Every year I try to get him a special ornament that represents something about his growth or his interests. This year was the Nutcracker - not just for this one sharing of a story, but to represent the blossoming of his imaginative life in general.