Welcome 2011

The Christmas tree came down today. It’s now packed away with all of our other decorations and ready to go back out to our big storage building.

Instantly, the living room felt lighter and less imposing.

It’s significant because it finally feels like the holidays are over and we can concentrate on getting on with the new year.

Luke managed to convince us to leave up the strings of lights we draped over the front windows and doorway to the kitchen.

He loves lights.

Every Friday in December, after his violin lesson, Andy drove him home the long way, past homes covered in glittering lights and inflatable Christmas icons.  His enthusiasm was infectious.  It made me feel like a kid again.

But he was glad to return to school — even looking forward to it.  He loves school.  The rest of us were looking forward to it, too — probably Mads most of all.  Since the grandparents left, I don’t think Mads took a nap longer than 10 minutes during the day for a week.  There was just so much activity in the house, no one could rest.  She had to have been tired and grumpy.

She finally succumbed to sleep today.

I’m not sure why people associate the holidays with peace.  Today — the official beginning to the festival season — was peaceful.  After her midday nap, Mads and I walked outside to get some sunshine and took a piece of mail that had been mistakenly delivered to us down to our neighbor.  I didn’t expect Miss Thelma to answer the door, let alone invite us in, introduce us to her grandson, and show us the digital picture frame he gave her for Christmas.

Thelma is a spirited woman, bright and energetic — especially for 87!  She’s incredibly proud of her large family, not to mention her 9 great-grandchildren (soon to be 10).  Mads and I had a wonderful time chatting with her, and she asked us to come by again for a visit.  It will be a pleasure.

I just love our neighborhood.

Thelma is just one of our numerous and wonderful neighbors.  Anytime we’re outside, people come out to say hello.  And they put up with our front yard garden.  I made sure to keep them happy by giving them each a jar of homemade persimmon butter, made with persimmons from our tree.

We rang in the New Year with our neighbors.  It was so nice to go out and be social, even if it was next door. It was also nice to only have 50 feet to walk when it was time to go home.  No need for a cab.

Yesterday, for the first time, I let Luke cross the street by himself to play with our neighbor’s granddaughter who was outside playing with a hula-hoop.  It was kind of momentous-feeling.  He’s really growing up.  He’s crossing the street without me.

It makes me wonder — how much will change between now and the next Christmas?  What things will the kids be doing?  What will we have experienced?

I guess we’ll just have to see what 2011 brings.