Every year on the weekend following Thanksgiving, we pack into our car and pick out a tree together. It’s a simple tradition really, one that’s not particularly unique to our family, but something we look forward to every year just the same. This year, it was mild and drizzly, the preface to a cold, wet storm. Blythe grabbed the empty wagon. My husband held the saw. Burke helped cut and catch the tree. Liam supervised and helped push the loaded wagon to the car. Olive found a ladybug and had her toe rolled over by the wagon. And in the quick 2o minute adventure, I took the pictures and forgot to get in one myself. It wasn’t an overly romantic outing, but it was an honest welcome to the Advent season.


Liam | We’re having more conversations with you about your interests and talents, about university and life when you leave our roof. We still have a handful of years, which I’m grateful for, but admittedly it still feels weird to think of you as a man one day. Where ever life leads you, you’re going to be a good one, that I know.

Burke | I’ve only recently noticed you are a gift giver. When you want to express your appreciation or love of someone, you give them something special, often purchased with your own money. To the common eye, these gifts might seem small–a bar of dark chocolate for me, a small truck for your cousin. But I know how little money of your own you have, and in my estimation, your generous heart makes these little things extravagant.

Blythe |  Last week, I overheard you reminding the boys to put away the [movie or video game] discs when they’re done. Liam responded, with a slight laugh and encouragement, “you’ll make a good mom one day, Blythe, keeping your little army right in line.” Whereas this might have been given as an insult or out of annoyance, his tone toward you was gentle and full of esteem. He’s quite right, too.

Olive | You love chewing gum and tend to carry a dollar or so with you any time we grocery shop, just so you can buy a fresh pack to enjoy. Yesterday, you opted to chew three pieces at once, and I had to ask you to throw it out since it was hindering your speech. One piece is a good rule of thumb. You have sometimes tried to save your gum as well, like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Last week I watched you leave it on your neck during your meal, and again I made you put it in your mouth or in the trash. Years from now, when I think of you at age six, I will remember a large, gap-toothed smile and a wad of gum.


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