Even if it was late to the party
The stormy weather prevented this month’s full moon sighting and the icy temperatures hampered any kind of walk. There were many months this past year we had interference: a school night, cloudy weather, a really late appearance. To see the moon together and work around those times, we used FaceTime or we woke at 4 a.m. Or we tent camped.
But mostly we spent time together while we waited on the moon. This was another one of those times.
On Saturday afternoon, we play Go Fish with a deck short of two cards and we make up rules as we go along. I print scorecards for Yahtzee® and fill all tasks but one—the five of a kind. We tire of rolling, do the math, and declare a winner.
With regular cards, we play war, and I explain the difference between Jacks and Jokers. How an Ace can be both high or low and it’s usually up to the dealer to say. I teach her how to “Cut thin to win” or tap the deck to leave it as is. She practices shuffling which results in 52 card pickup.
She finds last year’s leftover Christmas cards and uses one to write a letter to Santa. She dictates and I do the penmanship. When I sign off at the end with xox under her name, she asks why. I tell her it means love and affection. The X means a kiss and the O, a hug and she directs me to add one more O, to be fair.
She remembers a decorative holiday box I had a few weeks ago and finds it to use for the letter. She then needs an accompanying gift, which she plucks from the tree, an ornament I’m okay with going to the North Pole.
She wants to make art and I explain I haven’t felt up to painting in a long time, but I remember I’m giving her watercolor pencils next week, so I ask if she’s ever used them before. She hasn’t, so I get mine out and show her how they work. As we’re coloring, she reminds me I said I haven’t felt like doing art to which I respond, true, but here I am. “You must have a positive influence on me,” and she smiles.
We watch holiday movies and check the moon’s location in the Skyview app. Once it’s over the horizon, we search the cloud covered sky. No moon. It’s below freezing and windy. We plan to wake at four, but even then the sky is blank.
I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”—Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Before bed, we use Neutrogena® makeup remover wipes on our faces. I comment how the smell reminds me of something I can’t remember from my childhood, but it makes me feel comfort today. Ellie says the smell reminds her of the day she was born and how happy she was. I ask her if she’s still happy all these eight years later and her soft face beams when she quips, “Of course, silly.”
Once in bed, we read “How to be a Moonflower” by Katie Daisy and talk about planting a lunar garden next Spring. We study the animals that only come out at night and memorize the word ‘nocturnal’ and she announces she is this in order to stay up longer. I turn on KidsSongs Sleepyheads by Nancy Cassidy and we watch the flicker of the lighted snow filled lantern dance on the ceiling.
At first light we don warm clothes and go in search of deer in the woods. We tiptoe over twigs and use library voices. We find patches of flattened blonde switchgrass in the field behind the tree line and we make up stories about the family who slept in these beds. We listen for hoof steps or rustles, but hear only geese honks. We track their path as they fly in a V over the treetops in a sky made of tattered lace. And still no moon.
She goes home in the rain on Sunday and this morning, Monday the 20th, at 6:00, there it is, the mostly full moon. We FaceTime and she sees it here, but it’s not visible at her house. She shows me her room and the cat and the holiday shirt she’s wearing to school for a party. Her dad hollers from another room and it’s time for her to go.
Right after we say our usual I-love-you-I-love-you-too goodbyes, I’m about to tap the red End button but pause when I hear her pipe up, “Mimi, ex oh, ex oh.”
Ex oh, ex oh, to you too, Ellie.
And XOXO to you.