A week ago we took you to the mall. It was our annual pilgrimage, your yearly visit with Old St. Nick for your birthday. It was Monday evening - the day before your 9th birthday -and, even with it being only days away from Christmas, the mall really wasn't so badly crowded as it could have been.
We waited in line and I took out the comb and hair clip I'd slipped in my pocket before leaving home - something I'd forgotten in years past, making it necessary for Daddy to run off to the drug store to purchase emergency hair-taming apparatus. But this year I was prepared, reaching up - UP! - further than ever before, to tease the snarls out of your tresses and clip a thick strand away from your pretty face.
I wonder if we'll be visiting the Old Man next year or if, by 10 years old, you will find our tradition silly. I wonder, if we do go next December, will I be able to reach to style your hair at all.
And now, we've just had Christmas. It was a pretty great day, I must admit. Starting with Daddy and I being awakened before 6:30 a.m. by your singing to yourself in your room. You weren't supposed to wake us up until 7:00 a.m. - and that's precisely when you came in. You crawled into our bed, settled between us (as much as She-Who-Cannot-Stop-Moving-Ever can settle, that is) and that's how we all stayed for another good half hour or so, playing a rousing edition of Christmas cattails (pick a theme and say a word. Whatever that word ends in, the next person has to say a word that begins with that same letter.)
Eventually we made our way downstairs, starting with stockings, then breakfast of homemade cinnamon buns, and then finally the opening of presents, starting at close to 9:00 a.m. As much as I sometimes regret that you won't have siblings to grow up with, I do believe that Christmas morning with just the 3 of us is pretty much ideal. You aren't egged on by nor egging on a brother or sister, seeing who can be the most excited, the most hyped up, the most hysterically crazed about getting to and opening presents as soon as humanly possible. No. We three take our time, enjoy the morning, and appreciate the gifts (both material and not) before us. Love it!
This year I'd say you were the most laid back I'd seen you on Christmas morning. I thought there were at least a few gifts you'd go absolutely wild over, and I was excited for you to unwrap them. Instead, you were calmly, honestly, politely pleased and grateful. Not the big rush of pure joy I was expecting from you, but still pretty great in the end.
And now, you and I have some time off together. You had a fun day today, moving from new activity to new activity. I love the games we tend to get you/you tend to be given! Building and crafting toys and activities that can be done again and again and again, with you only being limited by your own imagination. An imagination, it seems to me, which is pretty darn limitless. This year seemed to be the year of the Choose Your Own Adventure Book. You've gotten 5 traditional versions of this style of book this birthday and Christmas combined, and one more super cool (if I do say so myself!) graphic comic book version called Meanwhile. You'd never seen CYOA books before, but have quickly developed a great love for them, and I am excited for you that you're happy to dive into these adventurous new worlds of your own making.
Yes, this Christmas may have been a financial challenge for us - as it usually is, actually - but we pulled it off pretty well, I'd say. I love how you appreciate the little gifts as much as the bigs one - sometimes more! I love that you can be given a gift handmade with love and be more thrilled with it than the more expensive and store-purchased popular game of the hour. This year's gift of the season for you? A hand-knit "dead fish hat," made by your Auntie. So awesome! You have learned well, I know, that it's the thought behind a gift that counts the most. And you are genuinely appreciative, always.
Merry Christmas, Sweetie. And Happy 9th birthday too! Your last single digit year. Next Christmas may be a whole different situation. You may be too big - literally and figuratively - to submit yourself to the true meaning of the season. But for now - this Christmas, and all the Christmases we've been honored enough to have you as a part of our lives - have been completely and utterly as magical, mystical and marvelous as any Christmas ought to be.
You like to say that Daddy is Awesome, I'm The Best, and you're always Great. I say you are all three wrapped up into one and that, without you, I can't even imagine how life would be at all.