Sometimes the best thing you can do is stop right in your tracks. Last weekend--not this past weekend, but the one before--I did just that. I had purchased (surprise) tickets for me, Ian and the kids to the Polar Express on the Newport Dinner Train months ago. But when Sunday--the day of the event--arrived, I had absolutely no desire to make the four-hour round-trip in the Subaru for 90 minutes on a train.
This was unusual. I am normally fired up when it comes to day trips or long drives to just about anywhere.
Because this was out of character for me to feel completely and totally apathetic about the trip, and because the kids had no clue what we had planned for the day, I bagged it. Call it a hunch. Call it intution. Call it being totally ridiculous and wasting money, but it wasn't going to happen. I made the call mid-Sunday morning, as the kids rolled around in the snow with their friend Nicky oustide church, and Sean and Nolan told me they wanted to get a Christmas tree.
So I decided to go with the flow of things. In our highly scheduled lives, the boys and I enjoy lots of activities and events on a weekly, if not daily, basis. What's more, the kids spend almost every Friday night at their father's, and consequently some days they are burned out on "going" anywhere but home. Home is where the Legos are. Home is where the dogs are. Home is where they can play with good friends and neighbors. Home is...well, there's no place like it, right?
The kids and I went home after mass, and I quietly informed Ian in the other room that I had decided we'd skip out on Newport. He was surprised, but he was down with getting a tree. After all, we had just enjoyed our first snowfall of the season. What could be more idyllic than going to the tree farm to cut down our "first" tree together for the first Christmas together in our new house?
I threw together some lunch and called the Newport Dinner Train, encouraging them to "rehome" my tickets (which were will-call), if they could. Then we hopped into Ian's truck and took off for the tree farm in North Guilford, where the snow had accumulated a little more than in our shoreline neighborhood. The boys, Ian and I trekked through rows of trees, stomping through patches of snow and delighting in the fresh stuff that fell from the sky while we shopped around for the right tree. It seemed unbelievably perfect: fresh snow falling from the sky while two little boys ran amok, chasing rabbits and hiding behind trees. Once we found "the one", Ian got down to the business of sawing, and Sean helped. Later, home, we decorated the tree and enjoyed a long, quiet, relaxing night with a nice fire, cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas movies.
It beat sitting in a car for four hours on I-95.
As the boys headed upstairs to wash up for bed, Sean protested the end of the weekend. "I had so much fun today," he said. "I wish we could do today all over again."
And at that instant, I was completely and totally satisfied, at least for a moment. Sure, I had bailed on taking them on a fun Christmas train ride--a state away. But in doing so we all enjoyed the gift of each other's company on a relaxing, snowy Sunday. Instead of feeling hurried and racing down exits on the highway, we sat in our house by the light of our tree and felt completely content with each other at home. As my friend Cindy, the mother of Sean's best friend Nicky, said, "Sometimes we get so crazy planning to do stuff for the kids, and really, we're doing it for us. They're happy to just hang out, and sometimes it's better to just do that."
And so it was.