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F6C80BE0-6315-489F-B71E-2E4688C738C0Old December holiday styled header today.  Not this year’s at all; however, for how challenging the last few days have been, I want to claim December and celebrate cozy holidays.

Today, we put up and decorated our little fake tree.  Bought during a year that we were going to spend a long Christmas holiday with Cheshire and Julia still wanted a tree.  Since then, Julia has asked to put it up as soon as Thanksgiving is over and I could see no reason to say no.  It was on the schedule for Sunday, today is Wednesday, but the little tree is up.  As are a few decorations and a string of lights around the mantle.  

I used to pack away Christmas in four cardboard boxes. The boxes were bought in Indianapolis and so, before 2007, and for the last few years they needed taping and handling with care.  There was lots of stuff in those boxes—fake evergreen garland, old broken balls for the tree—that I was not using.  It was time to purge.  It was during last Christmas, that I decided to move.  And so, putting Christmas away was the perfect time to pack up Christmas for moving.  

I culled and got threw out the broken, St. Vinnie’s received what could be used again.  I put what was left in three plastic tubs and taped them closed.  Those were the first packed boxes for our move and they are probably the last boxes to be opened.  I ripped off the tape yesterday and searched for what I wanted to bring upstairs.  Nothing was in any particular place.  Of course not.  Over the years of unpacking and packing up again, each decoration was wrapped a certain, same way and put in a specific box.  This was a leaner, meaner packing of holiday cheer. I wonder if I will miss anything that I deemed less than useful last year.

Julia decorated the little tree. I put up some red beads, some lights, little wooden trees and the holiday lanterns. More to come.

BCFA8FDB-6F01-42A6-8301-70AEB3C68AC9We had a lovely Thanksgiving in New Hampshire with the future in-laws—funny to write that— and an aunt and uncle from Maine.  We had a good time together eating, walking, talking and drinking great beer.  The celebration was capped on Saturday when some of us went with Cheshire to try on wedding gowns.  It was a spur of the moment idea that gave us a first look at styles and possibilities.  Cheshire in a bridal gown.  Amazing, sweet, incredible and completely ordinary and expected.  It seemed so right to be not astounding at all.  Trying on dresses did make something—the life changing wonder of actually deciding to partner with someone for life—real.  Of course, of course, it is all real, but looking at venues and talking menus and guest lists is somewhat intangible.  Trying on white dresses with veils—that is something to pin reality on.

No, no purchase was made.  Many ideas and some unexpected likings were noted.  And we get to do it again soon.  

On Sunday, after church, Julia had a very hard melt-down.  She raged from early afternoon until she went to sleep at night.  The trigger was once again the hiatus from Instagram.  It went on for so long and then when she woke up the next morning, she was pretty close to beginning again.  On Monday at school, she spent hours with the school counselor and on Tuesday, we had a first appointment with an outside therapist.  It has been a rough few days.  I’ve benefited greatly from the school counselor and the therapists who were willing to talk to me and offer suggestions.  Pretty much at my wit’s end on Sunday night, I considered calling for some emergency help. We will be working on some strategies to calm down and recognize the importance of disappointments, but it is hard to practice when life is relatively smooth.  One practice that has been lost this semester is everyday journaling.  I have had her begin again. She can pour a lot of emotion onto the page—some of her most coherent writing.  Perhaps. perhaps.  Loss of control, displacement, not having the comfort of old friendly faces—I know this all contributes to her blackest moods, but it is the loss of Instagram that is her trigger.  And she needles me about getting back on pretty much every day.  The main issue continues to be safety.  If there is anyone who knows how to block the messaging part of Instagram, please let me know.  It is her messaging with strangers that makes it an unsafe experience for her.  I cannot stand down on this one.

No conclusions today.  Just trying to make sense of the day by day.  One step.  And then one more.