It's always hard to sleep on Christmas Eve, even as an adult. Getting wound up for weeks usually culminates for me in tossing and turning more appropriate to a seven-year-old than a geezerly 34. This year I wondered at my energy at 11pm for happily settling Enola to bed, helping Dakota (the 13-year-old lab) settle down, for lying in bed savoring the memories of the lovely dinner we had. Around 12:30am I realized that John must have accidentally given me caffeinated coffee. Oops!
Somewhere in the last month Enola has become family. I mean this because at first she was a little stranger, full of strange demands and sublime beauty. From the start, I loved her in a way that wasn't like any other love I've ever known. I found it easier to say that she was part of me. I don't usually express love for my arm, for instance, yet I treasure it and require it and can't imagine life without it. That's what Enola has been for me - essential, treasured, unquestionably integrated.
This past month or so, though, as she gains bits of speech (boo! boo! boo! she chirped at me last night) and marches her feet around on my lap (standing with a big silly grin on her face) I have begun to understand that she is a new person. She has a stubborn will, to our delight. Her experiences will diverge from mine more and more as she grows. Yet, she will be a puzzle piece in my puzzle forevermore: separate and connected, a being of self and other at the same time. Family.
This Christmas Eve was warm and smelled juicy, like awakening tundra. To you, my wider family, I will quote a lovely little phrase from Goodnight Moon perfect for this night:
Goodnight noises everywhere."