Seven days in Michigan, during which time there was…
* impromptu ice-skating with my five-year-old niece and her daddy.
* pan-fried Halloumi cheese. Crispy, chewy, perfect.
* a 13-month-old who decided that it was time for him to start walking…
* (…but we still heard plenty of thud-thud-thudding as Devin hustled his way around the house on all fours.)
* crustless pumpkin pie, a holiday staple in our family. Both the kiddos approved. The big people did too.
* a visit from Santa Claus, who brought plenty of paleontology gifts for Lydia, the aspiring bone-digger, and lots of blocks for Devin, whose curiosity knows no limits.
* a Christmas brunch, with all the best breakfast foods: frittata, extra-creamy hashed brown casserole, bacon, pancakes, fruit, and coffee spiked with Irish cream for the grown-ups.
* a pizza dinner out with an old friend, with lots of laughing and remembering the days when we were so young and hopeful.
* rambunctious games of tag, with a toy goose whose feet went fwap-fwap-fwap on the wooden floors, a Lydia who giggled the whole time, and a Devin who hustled after his big sister with remarkable speed.
* an easy morning spent with friends and their adorable small children.
* a backyard deer-spotting!
* …and on the eighth day, there was a long day of travel, with one delayed plane, cold leftovers (the Indian food was better than the pizza), some Christmas chocolate, and the achy feeling of leaving my family. But I’m pretty sure it was worth it, for all the fun, cheese, love, and memories. Next time I’m in Michigan, there won’t be snow on the ground and there might even be sandals on my feet, but I’m glad that every year ends with a wintry Michigan and a chance to hit the pause button. 2012, I’m almost ready to welcome you. It’s been a hard, long year, but I’d like to think that 2011 is ending a high note.