Christmas has felt a little different to me this year, since I haven’t been around on weekdays. It’s also been a bit odd because our living rooms is full of furniture. Village Free School is moving to a new location over Christmas break, and we’ve been collecting and storing some furniture to help them set up in their new space.

This means that the Christmas tree is squeezed into a fairly narrow slot between shelves and tables. And since I wasn’t around much, most of the decorating was done by Nathan, with occasional “assistance” from his sister. He did a splendid job in my opinion, although he had little patience with untangling strings of lights, and mostly just put them up in large globs.

We followed our usual tradition of opening one gift per day leading up to Christmas, and that worked well again. Next year I may even put them out under the tree and see if Mica has developed enough executive function not to rip them open. And this year, partly because I was gone so much, we did our Christmas cookie baking on Christmas Eve. This was, as usual, all about frosting and insanely large piles of sprinkles.

But the most exciting part of the day was undoubtedly that evening, when I looked up from cooking dinner to see traces of white on the ground. In record time all three kids were outside, where a thin layer of hard, pellety snow was busy accumulating. It was really more like a combination of freezing rain and ice pellets, but they didn’t care — for them, all those snowy Christmas cards were coming true.

Title And Salary

I have a job — by which I mean, I now have the sort of job that comes with a title and a salary, not the sort I’ve been doing for the last eight years that comes with neither.

This has changed some things around here. I now get up before anyone else in the family, not to have time to myself (although the house is very quiet), but to beat traffic up into Portland. I spend all day working with other adults on intellectually strenuous problems. At lunch I read my book; at the end of the day I drive home alone, listening to a book on tape or classical music.

Dave, meanwhile, has been packing lunches, taking the kids to school, and handling dentist appointments. He takes his laptop to school and tries to squeeze in a little work while Mica plays with the other kids, returning periodically to be fed. This week he has also started making dinner during the week — for the second night in a row I returned home to a hot meal.

The boys have expressed mixed feelings about this change. On the one hand Dave asks much more work of them than I do. (When I gave Dave my list of weekly chores, he expressed confidence that he could train the kids to do them.) On the other hand he has also raised their allowance. There are clearly pros and cons to the situation.

There are pros and cons for me, too. Most of my hobbies have been put on hold, at least until we can move closer to Portland and I can spend less time commuting. On the other hand I am meeting new people, doing interesting work, and getting way more reading done.

Overall the family seems to be settling in quickly. Soon I suspect this will feel entirely natural.