|Bratislava at night|
|A run through the Brandenburg Gate on Christmas Eve|
|Christmas tree in the Berlin train station|
|I think this tree was in Prague...and the one above it in Poland.|
BabyO won't remember his trip except for in pictures -- but his cute toothless grin and love for anyone who would hold him made Christmas that much sweeter. Now that the family has left, I'm still remembering the evenings that he lay on the quilt that my great-grandmother made, in front of the fireplace, sleeping as if nothing in world were all that important except a warm nap.
Christmas, to me, is the experiences. The toys and gifts, they are part of the memory but for the most part it's the people, the laughter, the smells of the tree, the crackle of the fireplace. It's the hot mulled wine in Krakow or the laughter of my happy nephew, BabyO. It's the first taste of a blueberry pierogy in Warsaw or reading Shel Silverstein on the couch to A, just before bedtime.
It's the experiences that matter, not the toys, not the gifts. Just like in 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas', even if all of the toys and 'things' are gone, Christmas still exists. Next year, don't race out for those 'last minute gifts'. Don't run around, stressed out from holiday shopping, feeling miserable and missing the beauty that surrounds you during the holidays -- the lights, the music, the joy. Don't go overboard on the gifts. Your kids don't need that giant 'whatever' or that expensive 'newest thing'. What we all need is to put everything down, experience each other - the smells, the sights, the sounds...the holidays -- however you celebrate them. Be mindful. Be aware. Be present.