Christmas is over.
Come and gone.
The Christmas lights that make our yard bright and my children smile are down.
The plastic bins that hold the sacred ornaments are now stored with a push and shove into the hall closet.
The music of Baby Einstein videos in the background and my Mae Mae doing handstands and cartwheels across the house are a welcome rhythm that I crave.
Dawson snuggled under his blankets and blowing up balloons and Mae Mae jumping around the kitchen with her lopsided ponytails singing “Firework”.
They are the tradition.
They are what we wait for.
They are the routines of our winter months.
I drive my Mae Mae to Dave’s office to sell Girl Scout cookies.
She is chatting to me about how many boxes of cookies people might buy at Daddy’s office.
We pass by the train tracks.
Just the tracks.
And her voice.
With great seriousness.
With a hopefulness that a child who is seven years and two months holds.
“Mommy, if the Polar Express comes to our house, can I get on?”
My body smiles.
I glance at her in the rear view mirror.
I speak with confidence.
“Of course you can, sweetie. If the Polar Express come to our house then YES you are getting on.”
I feel her smile.
Then I ask her.
“Do you think I can get on too? Do you think they would let grown ups on or do you think just kids can get on the Polar Express?”
The silence in the van.
I know she is thinking hard.
“Oh, yes mama, you can get on. Dawson and Daddy could get on too. We could get on as a family.”
I take one hand off the steering wheel and shake my fist in the air.
“Yes! We can all get on the Polar Express together as a family! That is a great idea!”
Then her voice is serious.
“And Mommy, I can help Dawson. You know, because of his autism, he might have a hard time getting on the train, but I would help him.”
My body smiles again.
“And Mommy, if Dawson had a seizure on the train, I would help him with that too.”
We are coming to a stop light.
My foot on the brake slows us down.
“Mae Mae, you know that you are a good sister. I mean, a really good sister. You show such kindness to your brother. You know that, don’t you?”
I hear no words from my sweet girl’s mouth.
“Mae Mae, did you hear me? You know you are a great sister to your brother. You know I love you. Did you hear me, sweet girl?”
Her voice confident.
“Yes, yes, Mommy. I heard. I am just so excited we might get to go on the Polar Express next Christmas. And I am really excited about selling Girl Scout cookies at Daddy’s office”
“Me too sweetie. Me too.”
And the lights are down.
The ornaments put safely away.
The rhythm that is our January has begun.
And the magic that is Christmas.
The hope and belief that are the Polar Express.
Wrap around my family.
And the train ride begins.
Copyright Cheairs Graves January 13, 2013