Since the beginning of our marriage, I have designated the Sunday after Thanksgiving as the day to decorate our house for Christmas.
So yesterday - following a fantastic weekend of Thanksgiving family togetherness, Black Friday shopping and a day trip to visit college friends - we cleared some space in our living room and packed up the kids to go pick out our Christmas tree. We cranked the Christmas music and carried our storage boxes full of Christmas decor up from the basement.
Connor was insanely excited to choose our tree. A few years ago, we planted some trees at Evan's parent's farm so that eventually we can cut down our own, but until then, we drive up the street to Lowe's. We found the perfect one - full and fat and fluffy - and every time it was out of sight, Connor became very concerned that our perfect tree was not coming home with us, despite our reassurances that we were just trimming it and preparing to load it into the van.
Finally, we were home, and as we strung the lights to the tune of NSync's The First Noel, I was struck by the hugeness in this simple experience...decorating our house for Christmas as a family of four. Preparing to celebrate Christmas and feeling happy and excited for the holiday season.
Something that I wasn't sure we would be able to do at Christmastime last year, when we were preparing ourselves for our baby daughter's possible death, when we were holding an emergency baptism on Christmas morning, when I spent Christmas Eve night pleading with God to not let her die.
What a miracle we experienced last Christmas.
There was such elation yesterday as we pulled out our beautiful ornaments, bringing back memories of years past. Such excitement as we moved our advent calendar's candy cane to the 1 spot, as we wait for the end of the week to begin our monthly countdown. And such anticipation to celebrate and savor each moment of this holiday season with our family's newest addition.
It's not Brenna's first Christmas, but it feels like it to me. She will be with our family this year - at mass, at family gatherings, on Christmas morning to open gifts - instead of fighting to live in a hospital bed. Decorating the house for Christmas was just the first step to a wonderful Christmas season and the perfect ending to a weekend of Thanksgiving.