It’s been a rainy month here by Southern California standards, where we’re used to a small handful of showers during the whole season. It seems like it’s rained every day of December so far. Our neighborhood has been slow to put up decorations for the holidays, and I’m thinking the rain is largely to blame. Annie gets excited about our Christmas lights every night (Mama! They came on! LOOK!), and she’s been anxiously asking about the rest of the houses on our street. “Are they gonna put up lights too, Mama?” she’ll ask, pointing out the window at the dark houses across the way.

My mom mentioned to Annie something about driving around to look at lights, and that sounded wildly appealing to her. I don’t know if she remembers looking at lights last year or not, but she’s been begging to go looking at Christmas lights for at least a week. And I’ve been putting her off…because of the lack of neighborhood participating…because of the weather…because I haven’t felt well enough to go for a drive. But last night she asked me again if we could go look at lights, and I saw her hopeful face and I couldn’t say no. She didn’t care about the rain, or the lower number of decorated houses. She just wanted to see “beautiful beautiful Christmas lights.”

She grabbed her Minnie Claus doll, and posed for me in front of the tree.

in front of the tree

Then she, Mike, Rigby and I got in the car to look at what our neighbors had put together. I played Christmas standards on the radio, and Annie sang along to the songs she knew (and even the songs she didn’t).

Annie and Minnie Claus, ready to look at lights

I was pleasantly surprised – some people had really made some great displays.

rudolph and friends
MAMA! It’s the bomdominal snow man!

look at rudolph!

intense christmas house
It’s Rudolph! And a rocking horse! I want that horse from Santa!

She held Minnie Claus up to see the best houses:

showing Minnie decorations

It really was a little bit of magic to hear her happy voice in the back seat:

LOOK AT THAT HOUSE! Look at the snowflakes! Look it’s Frosty the Snowman! He’s a very happy snow!

When we got back to our house she said, “Mama, Daddy, my house is awesome.”

There were so many things I wanted to do with Madeline and never had the chance. I swore I’d never put things off with Annabel. And yet, I still do. I get bogged down and assume that there will be a tomorrow. I take the future for granted even though nothing is promised, and nothing is owed. I have to remember to live more in the present.

When I tucked Annie into bed and was whispering my goodnight wishes in her ear, she whispered back in mine, “Mama, can we look at lights again tomorrow?”

And I said yes.