18 December 2018


we woke this morning and felt it humming in our bones: christmas is but one week away. and do you know, i would pause time right here if i could, stay a while or forever inside these hours of twinkling lights and tinsel, fresh pine and christmas cheer. i love the juxtaposition of movement and stillness. i love the tug of reflection. i love ribbons and velvet and how every wall, every mirror, of our home casts images of light back to me. of course christmas morning is truly special -- of course it is. but this year more than before, i am happy to be rooted here, in the purest joy of now, just before.

i pour another cup of coffee and think how little francis still is and i watch him spin 'round my feet as i write and wrap, lost in the wonder of gold ribbon unfurling, and i think how i always want a baby around. i dream up a christmas menu and play "all bells in paradise" over and over again. i plot our walking routes around the fir forests we'll pass through along the way. i watch my husband walk our baby to the wee tree in the nursery window to say their goodnights to this big, beautiful city and i cannot look away. i think: i dreamed this, once. i order a cappuccino and i cross avenues and i do the family wash at the corner laundromat, and stranger after stranger after stranger asks how someone so small can glow with so much joy, and i ask myself this same question, and i have asked god this same question every minute of every day since the very hour francis brown was sparkled into life.

17 December 2018

twelve dates of christmas | on our sixth date of christmas...

...we walked to the holiday market at columbus circle in search of nutella churros. for the first year in memory, churros were nowhere to be found, but there were piping hot bratwursts and nutella doughnuts and sugar-sweet memories: this same holiday market, christmas last, strolled on the walk to our tour of the hospital. back then my belly was moon-big and visions of christmas-next danced in my head (see!), and we lived our way into this year's scene just as i imagined: baby, bundled and rosy, and us, unable to remember a single breath before him.

16 December 2018

things of my heart, one week before christmas.

sunday. forty seven since, and i wonder how long i will keep count. all these sundays later, and it comes to me as easily as if you had asked me my own name. but if by number or if only if by day, i know: this is how i mark time, now.

i have attached the song "temunĂ¡," one of eric whitacre's five hebrew love songs, to this boy of mine a breath away from eleven months old. the song drifting through the house most often when i look up from what am i doing and press to my heart what is playing. it breaks my heart and it fills me up, this song, this motherhood, and i know that when these notes find me in christmases to come, i will once again sit perched on the floor of the nursery,  awash in the marvelous poetry of a little prince busy with stars.

motherhood is nothing if not a deep breath, tripping in my chest, of knowing i am standing in a place i will someday look back on and long for. a place i will never find on a map.


post-edit: i was moved to read the lyrics translated from hebrew, and if you can believe:

a picture is engraved in my heart;
moving between light and darkness: 
a sort of silence envelopes your body,
and your hair falls upon your face just so.

(or, spun gold motherhood moments.)

13 December 2018

twelve dates of christmas | on our fifth date of christmas...

...we double dated with the mainardi family once more, boarded a 1932 subway train, and went for a ride. each december, the transit museum puts a vintage nostalgia fleet into service on sundays, and for just the cost of a subway ride. as we rumbled along, we were bewitched by old-time details (rattan seats, ceiling fans, period advertisements, soft lighting, handrails) and shimmering thoughts of old new york.

12 December 2018

the first of december.

it is an ever holy breath in a first year on earth: baby's first christmas. i don't think i will ever get over how a christmas tree all lit up in the morning feels, especially with my wild-haired husband handing me french press and our baby palms-up for me, his tiny, chirp-of-a-voice calling for me. "mama."

mama. mama. mama. all day long. nights, too. my name rides on his every exhalation. like music notes ride on breezes. like my own grateful prayers ride my heartbeats. 

lately, the air smells of pine and all the city wears magic like a favorite sweater. i sit with francis beneath the twinkling tree, reading the little prince aloud while he explores, and he feels joy with his whole body. i have been gathering treasures and spinning ukrainian bell carols and bing crosby's christmas album on repeat. walks to our post box in the vestibule of our apartment building are a grand adventure, wonder and thrill at what merry note, and from whom, has come for us today. the stockings are hung and fir branches are frosted in baubles, each telling tale of a life unfolding: the rose print cat from our honeymoon, the ballerina from my first tree in new york, a wishing bone, a hot air balloon, a hummingbird, a scene from paris, last year's for-baby swan a-swimming aside this year's boy flying atop a goose. everything, everything, is made magic by the glow of the tree, and i am mustering all of my might to make every minute last an hour these days of december.

09 December 2018

twelve dates of christmas | on our fourth date of christmas...

...we double dated with the mainardis to visit santa at the plaza and charles dickens' handwritten manuscript of a christmas carol (!) at the morgan library. day became night and, too, there were whiskey cocktails and a cheese plate, much laughter and the city swathed in twinkling lights. magic.

07 December 2018

very all.

i was on my hands and knees scrubbing cream of wheat from the floor under the white birch table and i noticed how francis splays his feet as they dangle from his perch. his kingdom.

they look like wings, and they just might be.

and i was thinking maybe this is what love is: doing the smallest thing imaginable -- cleaning up after breakfast, lighting candles for even the simplest of suppers, folding the family wash, scribbling the weekend grocery list, hanging up your husband's raincoat, making coffee before he wakes, reaching for his hand in the car, stealing a kiss in the aisle at ikea, drawing baby's warm bath in the morning, soothing him all night long if he needs you to, singing the song he loves most, singing it again -- and thinking it the greatest thing you could ever do. thinking it the loveliest way you could spend your one life. thinking if it is the very last thing you ever do wrapped inside the last breath you ever take, it is enough. thinking it is everything there ever was or is or could possibly be. thinking it is even more than that.

05 December 2018

twelve dates of christmas | on our third date of christmas...

...we strolled through central park down to peek at the holiday windows at bergdorf goodman, a perennial favorite of ours during christmas in new york. this year's theme is bergdorf goodies, a feast of gingerbread houses and peppermint candy canes, soft serve confections and an old-time chocolate shop. afterwards we made way down fifth avenue, popping in and out of stores, sharing still-hot candied cashews from a street cart, and admiring how all of new york gets gussied up the month of december. every last block.