It is Christmas Eve. I haven't wrapped a thing. My house was barely decorated most of the day - I placed bears and angels and glass pieces on whatever small space I could find at 6:30 this morning. The tree, which has normally been decorated for maybe two weeks, was stationed in front of our living room picture window with nothing but lights until just before dinner, mere hours before midnight.
This is a first for me. Usually I've been working out of boxes that S pulled out of the attic for a solid week, finding various pieces that may or may not have made it onto a shelf or corner last year and deciding whether they are worthy this Christmas. The fact that the boxes remain unopened in my living room might sound sad, but really it's not. In fact, this is probably The Christmas I will remember for a very long time.
First, both girls (and The Boy) are here with us this Christmas. Second (or maybe first also), The Year of Wedding Planning really began this week.
Yesterday after plodding my way to work, rushing out of the office after less than two hours of actual work, barreling through the mall parking lot and cursing at every driver who beat me out of a space until I finally nailed one in time to meet my girls and OK's BFF, I got to be a part of something wonderful.
By the time I stepped into the bridal shop where we were all meeting, the others were there and OK was just about to try on her first dress. My tummy had been flipping all morning with a combination of nerves and excitement and awe that this day had come... I was afraid to mention it to my eldest for fear of setting the same off in her, as if she wasn't already a wreck. Settling into a chair positioned perfectly for the viewing, I tried to make small talk with YK and BFF but the butterflies inside felt like they were going to lift me right up and carry me out the door.
My girl came out in the first dress and I think I stopped breathing for a second. She was simply gorgeous and it fit her like a glove. For a few minutes we all considered that this might (already) be The One, but hey - we were there for an Event and it was not going to end this soon - so off to the dressing room she went. I knew it would be hard to beat that first dress but there were others OK had checked off on her list of favorites, so the dresses kept coming.
The first one was put aside as a leading contender, and I believe (but honestly, it's a blur) another was added at some point. I had stopped paying attention to what the gowns looked like that the girl assisting her was bringing in - not that they all looked the same to me by a long shot - my head was just spinning over this whole scenario. Her BFF was a natural at bringing out OK's true response to each dress she tried on. She seriously could have been an advisor on Say Yes to the Dress with her calm, direct, sweet way of letting OK know that she would be a beautiful bride no matter what she wore.
We were getting comfortable with the process, talking and joking, ready to throw in our two cents but also let the bride-to-be make the final call each time.
Then she stepped out of the dressing room with elation written all over her face. Suddenly she was four years old in my eyes, wearing a beautiful Christmas dress that she twirled around in every chance she got. I knew it was the same expression she had when The Boy knelt down before her exactly a year earlier. She lit up the room. It was the only dress that brought instant tears to my eyes.
It was perfect. She was perfect in it. Just like that, my baby girl became a woman.
More often than not these days I forget this scenario almost didn't happen. I might have missed not only the dress, but my first-born's college graduation and as her sister's high school graduation. But yesterday, as I watched my beautiful daughter's heart come alive in the dress she would say her vows in, I was more thankful than I have remembered to be lately.
There was a lot of whining over the untimely demise of our hot water heater. It temporarily put a damper on Christmas as well as that annoying ritual - what's it called again? Oh yeah, that's right. Paying bills. Things did get better when we least expected it, and a positive spin came in ways we could not have anticipated. But whether it had or not, that moment through my daughter's eyes erased every negative thought, every crabby take on how timing sucks.
I am not always mindful of the certainty that we don't know what tomorrow brings. But right now, this Christmas Eve, I believe that even if havoc has a field day with me when I rise the next day, it is simple. Nothing can erase what I have been blessed to be a part of.
Tomorrow is not a promise. Let yourself be blessed today.