in a group message with my sisters and my dad, kate texts a picture of ellie in a reindeer onesie being held by santa. ooohhhhhh says everybody. my two sisters without kids use red hearts. strung together one after the other, like stockings above a fireplace. 

the photo was taken yesterday at the atlanta aquarium. i wasn’t there because zoos weird me out, all these animals in cages and kennels and tanks. no thats bs fake spiritualism. really its because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay admission. thats less lie, closer. really i stayed behind because I needed my bloody personal time—dog couch snoozing, i press play to the neck and shoulders youtube video and yoga with adriene and then pause and write and record my own yoga video and make tea and add honey and stir and enjoy the clank of the spoon on the side of the mug.

kate messaged the photo this morning while i was teaching the 7am sunrise yoga class where we spent some time stretching our necks. yoga with adriene says sometimes our necks hurt because we’re failing to see both sides of an issue. i saw the santa and was like errrr humph. 

so i get that santa is pregnant with americana nostalgia and childhood wonder but if it were me i’d never set ellie on some strange old man’s lap. and not just because i don’t know who the hell he is, i’m sure he’s probably some jolly old guy with a big heart. it’s because what does santa mean? he’s this symbol of consumer christmas and this benefactor of toys. and aren’t we trying to live simpler, calmer stories? and I’m all about wonder and awe but why not mother earth instead of father christmas? 

a while later one of my sisters group messaged that santa is creepy and kate was like ya i only did it because it was free and there was no line. still. 

but that’s the perk of ellie having mom and dad. the benefit of balance. which i think is key. like it’s not that i mind people holding the baby, it’s that i mind them holding the baby and walking into the other room, where I can’t see her. balance. it’s not that i mind going home for christmas, it’s that three weeks in someone else’s home is going to make me hungry for my own air, throne, kitchen. it’s balance. 

the forest kids are leaving today, packing their back up with vermont maple syrup, slack line, and aquarium acquired sea turtle books. i’ve enjoyed the kids. i think the friday night goddamnit why the hell are these hyenas running around banging plastic sharks and loud cat when it’s clearly 7:37 bedtime!!!!!!! is just part of adjusting, learning. balancing. their visit also taught me something about my early fatherhood anxiety writ large. 

with courtney and her two kids, the kid attention was always displaced three ways. three cute babies at various stages of under-4 development. and this is wayyyyyyy less suffocating. but when its just extended family and their friends all circle sitting pointing and poking and touching and holding ellie like she’s some martian space ball, it’s swallow-me-whole overwhelming and in retrospect i defend the defensiveness that i felt when she was just born and i still feel waves of now. 

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