He was a year and some change, and it was the first holiday season he was aware anything other than bright lights and nap interruptions were happening in his life. He stared into Christmas lights, fascinated. He laughed at the dancing Frosty the Snowman in my parents' living room, pushing the button to make it wiggle and sing over and over and over again. The four meager toys Santa brought were a bounty. And then came the New Year.
My brother was in town. He was still a bachelor and those were the days when we all convened at my parents' in our pajamas for brunches and card games and to watch movies. Lil E fit in snuggly. His legs seemed to stretch out endlessly in his fleece zip-up onesies. His hair was everywhere. His gap-tooth grin and big brown eyes made him so him. He was talking up a storm at that point, and had just started taking his first assured steps. He was so much fun.
We spent New Year's camped out with my brother, playing games and order pizza and ribs and putting the baby down long before midnight. My parents were out at a party and so we had more room than usual to be silly and put together somewhat of a celebration. Before Lil E fell asleep to the sounds of fireworks already being set off hours too early at the park across the street, we took these photos to say goodbye to 2005.
My brother and I are signing the year with our hands. Lil E is perched atop my shoulders, paci popped in, hands laced through my hair. My as-yet-undyed hair. I may look very recognizably me there, but I look at these photos from my days as a part of a family of three -- as a stay-at-home mom in yoga pants and a little lip gloss, who is convinced she will never be able to move out of a cave of an apartment and tries desperately to fix it up each holiday on a budget of only a few dollars, who has no idea that her first blogging job and the beginnings of Sassafrass are waiting only months ahead -- and I think I look so very different.
And then I see this photo, taken a few days later the first time I shoveled our walk with Lil E toddling behind me, and I see the spark and the sense of adventure and the way I am squeezing E tight to me, and I think, "Ahhh, she's been here all along. Different clothes, different hair, different life. Same woman."
Was this lady ready for all that was ahead? Probably not. Perhaps. Of course she was.