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ordinary magic

2017 December 22
by Rachel Turiel

It’s Sunday morning. Rose and her buddy are crafting a doll-sized birthday party scene, snipping up dish sponges and painting them to look like layered cake. Col has been asking me since 6:00am to set up a playdate for him. (I secretly love that I can still call what 12-year olds do playdates). By 7:15am Dan and I are drinking coffee, butchering a roadkill deer, and listening to Pandora. I can see how Col would think 7:15 was the middle of the morning for everyone. Earlier in the week Dan carried inside the gumdrop heart of this roadkill deer. “That’s beautiful, Daddy!” Rose said.

One of Rose’s teachers called her “freakishly adorable.” I really have to agree.

By sunrise our skeleton trees are filled with evening grosbeaks, the children of the children of the grosbeaks who began stopping by nineteen years ago. We point and laugh and delight in them every morning, like toddlers captivated by the newness of life each day. We’ve noticed one singular starling has joined their wholesome ranks, as if it’s trying to reform itself, like the white supremacist slowly taking up the banner of inclusivity. We should all welcome these defectors.

We had the sweetest Hanukkah this year. The spiritual leader at the temple we belong to (who—this month—has pink hair, wears combat boots and possesses the sweetest voice) explained that Hanukkah is a time to appreciate what’s inside of us, to be home with family welcoming the light, even if your child doesn’t get home from gymnastics practice until 8pm and every night’s a lesson in fire safety (Ok, I added that last part. Col, put down the lighter!). But, I love her message to find the sweetness in your holiday tradition, and then tinker with it to fit your life so that you can love it all the more.

Super fun new game: Haikubes. Thanks, Joy!

This year we asked the kids straight up what they wanted for Christmas. Col wanted a mountain bike on which he could navigate the loopy, rocky, steep trails behind our house (which invoke equal parts awe and hand-wringing in me). Rose wanted fancy snacks and body care products. Col got a Christmas mountain bike in November (thanks to contributions from my parents and Col’s own piggy bank) so he could ride, pre-snow. That’s all I want, he insisted when we nervously informed him that this present would be the same present on Christmas day. That’s all I want, he reiterated.

And, last night Rose opened a gift basket (because we won’t be home on Christmas) of many little items (peppermint foot massage oil, individual servings of almond milks, tropical fruit leather, homemade lavender room spray…). She was “totally blown away” and “over the moon,” as she said in the card she wrote us two minutes after unwrapping her present.

But first, a reminder to herself: Reminder! Make Dad and Mom a card SOON!!!

I recognize there’s not a lot of wonder and magic in our method. It’s a bit like bring on the scientists and have them figure out Christmas. However, there’s a certain reassurance and safety in removing what feels like outsized pressure and anticipation. And, I feel wealthy in the magic and wonder of the every day, in the grosbeaks and the muted winter colors, in the orangey-pink sunrises and the deer sausage in the freezer, in friendships, foster dogs and the blessing of childhood.

Last night at dinner, I had two hankies on my lap due to a mild cold manifesting in the faucet of my nose turned on full blast. Rose was reminding us of next day’s school performance in which she and her friend are singing Men at Work’s Down Under to over 200 people. Col was snarkily suggesting she could start being nervous now. The sun was long down and a new snow glittered under the streetlights. Dan was diffusing everything with humor, and I was full of my own nostalgic love and gratitude for this ordinary magic, all of it.

Love to you all and gratitude for your presence here in this space where I hold you captive while I share odd bits about our lives,



**Do you remember our foster dog Sunny, who gave birth in our living room? Here she is with her one surviving baby. Dan says the caption of this photo is, “Hey Mama, if anyone’s messing with you, just let me know.”

**Remember my last post in which Col snarked about Rose’s dolls? I got a little more information from Col later about his anger around the dolls, and he made some beautiful requests to me to help meet some needs. Added in previous post near the bottom.

**Maybe I shouldn’t think this is hilarious, but I can’t help it (Col’s take on a traditional Christmas song):

**They can pretend not to like each other, but I have proof that says otherwise:

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Mollie permalink
    December 22, 2017

    The heart-offering illustration is gorily wonderful.

  2. Vic permalink
    December 22, 2017

    A very willing captive. Thanks!

  3. Lia permalink
    December 23, 2017

    Col’s remake is hilarious.

  4. Bree permalink
    December 24, 2017

    I haven’t been keeping up with your blog since we gave up home internet three years ago. I miss it. I miss your writing and the way you capture the smallest things and make them important. The title of this post reminded me why I always looked forward to reading here. Feeling magic in the everyday… love it.

    And Col’s song lyrics made me laugh so hard.

  5. Linda permalink
    December 24, 2017

    Rachel — I kid you not. The VERY second I started reading Col’s redux Christmas song, it started playing on The Current (the station that I stream out of St. Paul, MN).
    Pure magic!

  6. m moon permalink
    December 25, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your life. We mountain bike as a family. Awe and fear go hand in hand for that. My 8 year old is much better then i am. She got a new to her bike this Christmas, a surprise but was just as excited about the new to her lego she asked for. I have been deeply pondering this Christmas gift thing. In large part because some people in my family seem to think more is better than thoughtful. I am strongly on the side of thoughtful. I think asking and getting what your child asks for to the best of your ability. Is the way to go. Absolutely. Thanks again. I too love col’s song.

  7. Ellie permalink
    January 2, 2018

    I just caught up on your last three posts because I still don’t get your email updates. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face. You are such a fabulous writer and so thoughtful and caring about the people in your life. Honestly, reading your writing does more good for me than almost anything else that I do after the kids go to sleep at night.
    Happy new year!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      January 2, 2018

      Aw, Ellie, that makes me so happy to hear. Thanks for taking the time to tell me. So sorry e-mail notifications still aren’t working.

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