Memories of Last Advent…

Tonight is the first night of Advent. We gather around the coffee table, a candle wrapped in wire stuck into a jar of gravel. P and J are naked and dripping from their bath, although J wears the beaded necklace Sienna gave her earlier in the day. M and J do actions to Hark the Herald, everyone echoes during Do you hear what I hear. Phil pretends to eat fire. J passes gas while trying to blow out the candle. (naked). It is perfect and holy.

We have Advent soup at the Brozoviches’, pho with broth and fresh basil snipped into wide swaths. The girls rush through supper to get to figure skating and American Girl dolls with E. We talk about the pope and carols.

Every night we read The Christmas Mystery. P takes a bath, the girls move silently around the room, listening. They colour tiny mice on a Nakumatt Advent Calendar, pick a square of white paper stamped with a red mitten from a ribbon on the couch. At night we light candles- wrapped by Janey with wire and kitengela beads- sing songs, hang ornaments, say prayers. The girls wave their hands through the smoke like Jewish mothers. It is Advent.

Last night we watched The Polar Express during supper. The girls stared wide-eyed over their macaroni, stood up when it was too tense. J stood nearby with her hands over her ears when the train was going too quickly, shouted for us to tell her when it was okay.
Today when we are rushing down to Dania’s, then up to the house to get coffee before heading to J’s classroom, P smiles and says, “We sure are in a quick sort of mood today, aren’t we?”

I meet Julie and Catherine for French class at Art cafe. P orders her own babychinos, crosses her legs and watches the Heffalump movie on her laptop.

P and J rub thick red mud over their naked bodies like baby elephants. They pat it on their cheeks, help each other smear over missed spots, climb on all fours along the garden wall. They dance and sing and giggle the whole time. The rest of us spray the hose, take pictures. M watches from the roof. It is the best kind of being alive.

Every morning we study slugs- on the door, on the sidewalk, on the windows. Sometimes they are half eaten, their colourful insides splayed on the pavement, leftovers from bird breakfast, as far as we can tell. I often forget to notice and then step on them. The girls never forget.

When we ask the girls which carol they want to sing during our Advent time, P announces, “Joyful Lollies!” It only takes a moment to figure out…”Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph…”

The girls are keeping track of their reading each day. An elaborate ritual of timers and forgotten numbers. Today J decides to bring a clock to bed, even though she can’t tell the difference between the 2s and 5s, and then trace the numbers on paper when she wakes up so that we can tell her later what time it was. She wakes before the sunrises.

M loves baseball. “I don’t mean to brag, but I can hit the ball better than some of the boys.” American football is ‘awkward’ but she can still throw it. She’s disappointed in herself for not signing up for intramurals.

Tonight M comes out of her room wearing my night owl t-shirt as a nightgown, smiles and squints at the light, tells me she can’t sleep. She looks so old my heart hurts.

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