Joy Abounds

by Jessica Shyba on December 31, 2012

in Adventures in NYC,City Life,Events,New York,Parenting

Christmas wasn’t my favorite holiday until I had children, and even then it took until last year for me to completely dive in and fully appreciate what Christmas means to me and my family. Holidays are fun with children, but this time of year is especially meaningful and necessary for reflecting and appreciating the moments that pass far too quickly (a little perspective that comes with getting older).

The birth of our son last year just a few weeks before Christmas kicked these feelings into high gear. I don’t think I’ll forget the sight of his tiny sleeping body cradled in a bassinet and perfectly blanketed in the glow of the tree lights. I was drunk for weeks on a cocktail of new baby love, Christmas magic, and the perfect hum of excitement that emanates throughout this city and leaves the hairs on the back of my neck at attention.

Celebrating his first birthday this year was equally as special. I was mildly concerned that having a Christmastime birthday would be compromising for Beau, but I feel quite the opposite now. It is so much fun to celebrate so much at one time.

My mom and my sister came out to celebrate his big day with us. On the morning of the anniversary of his birth, they landed at JFK and nearly made it in time to watch him blow out the candle in his breakfast pancake. We baked his cakes (one oatmeal & brown sugar for Beau, one chocolate one for the rest of us) that day & mom made her famous spaghetti & meatballs while we laughed and just talked all day long until it was time to sing again and open presents and just celebrate this beautiful baby that we have thrice been blessed with.

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Our time was limited as it usually is, so we set out to take in the city during the holidays for what will probably be our last for a long time.

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This holiday season has been especially heavy. After Hurricane Sandy and the tragedy in Newtown, the acute awareness of how tremendously fortunate we are has been at the forefront of my mind. Each night when I tuck my healthy children into bed, and wake up in my heated apartment I am consciously grateful. Almost desperately grateful, if that makes any sense.

This was an emotional holiday on a different level too, knowing that this is our last Christmas in New York City. For me it’s been a pretty big deal, but with far less melodrama than I was preparing for. It’s been wonderful, but it’s time to move on.

The holiday preparedness began with taking the tree out of the box from under our bed. I’m sure I’ve said this every year since we moved to New York City, but while this fake, pre-lit tree has been perfect for us, I cannot wait to have a real tree again.

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We’ve taken great care with every detail. The ornaments were hung by all of us, cookies and salt dough ornaments were made and (several) gingerbread houses were decorated. Even that Elf made his nightly rounds (well, most nights).

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We took the kids for our fourth annual trip to see Santa at Macy’s on 34th. It was, as most things this holiday season, a little bittersweet knowing it is our last of an era-the NYU Dental School era that has flown my at a truly magnificent speed.

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The best part was walking through Santaland with Beau for the first time and watching his wonder and excitement over the decorations… Until we got to Santa.

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Jack and Zoe were old pros at the Santa Lap Sit, and proceeded to surprise both Justin and I by revealing their big secret wish for him to bring us a puppy. We cannot have dogs in our building, so of course my heart broke in that instant. We ended up convincing them that Santa knows our building’s rules and might make a surprise visit to our new home in California. Maybe.

A week later we visited Santa at ABC Home in Union Square, and while I was convinced that this was actually the real Santa in the flesh, Beau again was not quite as impressed. The kids decided to ask this guy for Legos and a Doc McStuffin’s Lamby-to which he readily obliged.

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Christmas morning was nothing short of beautiful, truly. The kids were so happy with their gifts that Zoe actually wept over her new Belle dress, and Jack made sure to thank me three different times throughout the day. I baked and cooked for nearly a full day starting the night before making pies, cupcakes for our doormen, cookies, while brining and cooking the turkey and the feast that we enjoyed together on Christmas night.

It was everything I could have dreamed of, but wouldn’t dare be so bold to ask for or expect.

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My mom Facetimed with us at 5:00 AM her time to watch them unwrap. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of it. We missed our family so much, but it only reaffirmed our calling back to the Bay Area. These moments are for family.

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It has been a most special holiday, full of gratitude and reflections on the past year. We are trying to catch our last few memories of the holidays in New York City as a family before Justin and the kids go back to school and everything is shut down around the city.

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I’m pretty sure our future budgets will have to make some room for visits to Manhattan during the holidays. It is simply that spectacular.

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I’m content and ready for the next chapter in our lives, and I believe part of that is due to the especially meaningful, lovely holiday we have spent together, just our nuclear family of five.

I hope you all had a beautiful holiday season.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Loukia December 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Happy 2013, Jessica! Love you!

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Amanda December 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Each photo kept delighting me more than the last. Have to say, the hand holding and cuddle walk did me. Happiest of New Years to you.

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YUMMommy December 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm

So, glad to hear that you all had such a lovely Christmas. Having kids has definitely increased my love of the holidays and celebrating the true meanings behind them. Seeing how fast this year went by makes me more determined to enjoy everyday and every memory of 2013. Happy Early New Year!

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Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey December 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I felt that way too – that Declan makes Christmas more special… and this year was mixed sorrow and joy.

Love all the photos, thanks for sharing those adorables with us.

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Kom November 19, 2013 at 12:21 am

I am officially, an addict… To your blog… to pictures of theo and beau… your kids are amazing… i have always wanted little bubs of my own… and i am happy to see yours flourish… with all that love and happiness and fun… bless you guys… <3

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Carol-Ann Power January 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Jessica & Family,

A big hello from Newfoundland, I just wanted to say how much brighter my day has become since I found you on instagram. I must hit that icon a dozen times during the day just waiting for new posts, Your family is beautiful, thank you for sharing. Looking forward to many more pics!

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