On Sunday afternoon, after my dad and stepmom and my brother and his girlfriend had left and the house was quiet because Ellie was napping, the melancholies set in.
I was so grateful to have everyone here. Saturday was a day I had been longing for in a way I hadn't realized I needed as a fantastic holiday meal was cooked (by my stepmom who made the best stuffing I have had in a long long time) as everyone talked and laughed in the family room that is right off of the kitchen. My house was filled with people I love and everyone seemed content to just be there. We opened gifts and Ellie was excited and a bit overwhelmed in the way a one year old is this time of year.
It was just all over so quickly. And knowing we would not have any other family or loved ones around for the next two weeks simply made me feel sad.
Sunday evening, after Ellie woke up from a long nap, she would not stop giggling. She kept wanting me to "chase" her around the kitchen table and into the kitchen and around to the hallway again again again. I've been keeping the camera away from my face and snapping at her height and I love what I am discovering when I look at the photos later. I can hear her laughter when I look at the photos above and see pure joy with a dash of mischievousness. These photos really capture her right now.
As I think about all the feelings I am holding this week, this is what I know: I can miss my family and friends deeply and still know we are living where we are supposed to be right now. I can give myself the space to feel sad that we won't have loved ones here for Christmas. I can hold melancholy in one hand and joy and beauty in the other and find myself breathing deeply somewhere in the middle.
This is life. Yes. This is living with my heart open to all of it.