Earlier this week, Baba crawled right out of her pants. She was nursing, which gives you an idea of what nursing a very active baby is like, and I didn’t immediately notice because I had covered us both with a sheet. I laughed when I discovered her bare, chubby thighs and tried to hold her as close to me as she would allow.
This last month has been filled with moments like this — as the world has literally and metaphorically darkened, tiny moments of beauty keep filtering through. My neighborhood is covered with an impressive array of Christmas lights, which make driving home through the darkness a delightful experience. It is the first year since Hurricane Sandy that I’ve seen such an impressive display, and I am deeply grateful to see the world return to normal. It is so reassuring to contrast the rising hatred in the world with festive frivolity, with beauty, with art.
It has been a remarkably sane holiday season for us. I made a conscious decision to keep it simple this year. Instead of trying to do all of the things, we picked the ones that mattered. Cards, because sitting down to write my extended social circle once a year fills me with joy. Small presents for family. Our own contribution to the neighborhood lights. Visiting with friends. Loving our daughter in the fierce way that has become normal. Bringing food to share with people that we love.
It is Baba’s first Christmas. We went last night to a Christmas Eve dinner at a friend’s, in what has become a treasured annual tradition. The food itself comes from the American Italian tradition of The Feast of the Seven Fishes, where seafood is served to both celebrate bounty and because it is a period of fasting from red meat in the Catholic tradition. It is not my tradition, by heritage or religion, but it has been such a part of my experience since moving to New York that it has come to feel like mine. Last night, as I fed Baba fish cakes and pasta baked in clam sauce, it felt like even more like home.
We let her stay up hours past her bedtime, which is why I can write this in the sweet silence of a sleeping house. She took her first steps last night, after dinner and in front of an audience of kind and fine people. We clapped and cheered for her, while her face exploded in glee at her new freedom.
Today, we will go to celebrate with a different set of lifelong friends, as we always do. I have bought a cake for dessert that is covered in a more traditional design that I could have ever imagined picking out before — and yet, I found that I could not resist it. I have, perhaps for the first time in my life, put on Christmas music in my home, just like my mother always used to do.
It is a season of music, of eating, of feasting, of remembering what is important in life. This year, for me, Christmas is about love and charity. It is about the ideals of a peaceful world; it is a reminder of what we must continue fighting for. I can only hope to share this peace and joy that I feel in my heart with you.