As we drove home from church this evening Mooch kept herself occupied by pointing out to me all the houses that have Christmas lights festooned indoors and out. Last year at this time she showed vague interest in the “pretties”, but this year it has become cause for joyous clapping and hooting, as well as a satisfied “Mama, lights!!!!” Our downstairs neighbors put their tree up in the window earlier this week, and as I settled Mooch into her car seat that afternoon her eyes grew wide. “What is that?” she asked, and it took me several moments before I realized what she had spied.
“Oh, do you see the Christmas tree?” I asked as I snapped her belt in place. “Yes, it’s very pretty.” I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, but from that moment on she’s been hooked. She hasn’t really caught on to the idea of Santa Claus- even when we pass the large display of Santa and his sleigh up the street her focus is completely on the “deers” in front of the bearded man, but we’re enjoying the displays and it gives her something to look forward to on the long car trips home from Mummy’s work.
Next week we’re tagging up with a group to go on a “sleigh ride” at a farm a bit north of here. My aunt and her family have been going on these rides for several years, and it’s become a pre-Christmas tradition. Mooch and I went along last year for the first time, and what a tradition it is. The folks that sponsor the ride have a working farm, and the sleigh (when there’s snow, otherwise they use a hay wagon) is pulled by two enormous Clydesdales. Everyone piles in to the open seating area, and as the wagon makes its way along the large scenic loop through the wood behind the farm, the gentleman who owns the place allows the smaller children to sit up front and take the reins. He even let just-turned-one year old Mooch have a turn, and a nice woman sitting near the front took a picture of her surprised face. I can only imagine what her excitement will be this year, considering her absolute and total love of ponies. At the halfway point of the ride there’s a stop at a small log cabin in the woods where everyone is treated to hot chocolate and fresh baked cinnamon rolls, and Santa stops in to ask after everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas. Pictures are taken, everyone laughs as my aunt plops down on Santa’s lap and asks for a new motorcycle helmet and good health for her kids, and then it’s back to the horses for the return trip to the farm. This event has actually become so popular that the farm schedules rides by invitation only, since they couldn’t handle the volume of people clamoring for a seat.
I feel as though I’m mentioning this too soon, since Christmas is still some weeks away, but those weeks are already so jam-packed I know I won’t have a chance to get it down otherwise. This week I have to play for a funeral, a choir rehearsal, and three church services. The sleigh ride is Sunday, followed by more choir rehearsals, Mooch’s birthday the thirteenth, and an Advent concert on the fourteenth. The next week will be choir preparation, and then there are the seven services I’m scheduled to play for Christmas weekend and Christmas proper. Somewhere, though, in the midst of all the chaos, I’m going to take time out to make two mugs of chocolate, sit down with my munchkin, and share some snuggles and cocoa while we listen to music and look at the lights on our very own tree. That will be the nicest part of it all.