Minnesota Magic


We flew into Minneapolis on Christmas Eve and I imagined Garrison Keillor narrating our approach.

The endless horizon imperceptibly, yet regularly, broken by water everywhere, frozen so solid people are comfortable hauling their most fragile belongings over the deep, cold oblivion. In the air, a family of four awaits the embrace of their loved ones. The plane descends slowly at first and then nearly tumbles into the earth as the youngest passenger protests in an otherwise silent aircraft. Her older sister comforts her, "Ruby! Don't listen to the lady who says to stay seated! You have to get you WHOLE BODY in the window to see the tiny lights. Just pull your WHOLE BODY out of the buckle thing and you'll see what I see. It's beautiful." The passengers chuckle at the glorious excitement of a child on Christmas Eve. Later that night, the same child would hear sleigh bells and ho ho ho in the living room of her grandparents' home. She'd tuck her cherub cheeks deep under the down comforter, between her mom, dad and little sister, and fall into the sugar plum sleep of a girl who believes in the power, the awe, the magic of Santa Claus.

We had a really, supremely stressful last few weeks. It's funny how it worked itself out a bit and immediately felt small as we moved into the next phase. But, it is still close enough for me to really remember being in it. There was bank drama, crooked contractor drama and for this drama-allergic gal, it was really hard. I am really proud of how we handled it, doing what was honest and right, even at the risk of losing our sale. We did what felt good. It wasn't convenient or expedient or standard. And then it all fell perfectly into place with things all signed and happy and solid with everyone involved just before we were to take off for Minnesota.

I'd like to further explain perfectly: I adore the family buying our house. The fabulous people we bought our new home from gave us the keys and permission to start moving in before closing, even left us gifts (including their adult son's childhood train set). We told the kids Santa was visiting our new home early and on Christmas Eve morning I drove up in slow, soft falling snow with a rug, two chairs, a strand of lights and a giant sled. I set up the train set, tied a bow around the sled, strung lights and watched out the window as our new neighbors collected on the epic sledding hill behind our house. Our new backyard "ends" at vast open space.


Alice smiled the whole time.


Regarding the new sled that fits our family or four and goes just a little bit too fast in that ver fun way, Margot said, "That was so thoughtful of Santa. I think we should text him and tell him thank you."

It was a very mellow year for gift giving, meaning time and cash were tight. In Minnesota Santa brought the girls wands and leotards. And, I couldn't possibly be happier with their reception. The wands have joined us everywhere and turns out I didn't need to pack anything else for Margot because the elves did a fantastic job on her long sparkly silver gymnastics skirt. Any photo you see here, if she isn't wearing the skirt, she is ten minutes later.

On a date with gram to see a play, Cinderella. 

The wands, oh I love these wands.


So far, since in this land of lakes, I have slept a lot. And, by "a lot" I mean I have slept past 6:30 every morning. And then heard my kids' running stampede around 7:30 and rolled over to my husband where we tucked ourselves even deeper in under flannel sheets in the king sized bed and talked. Eventually, we hiked up the stairs to find our kids bathed, breakfasted and happy, my mom humming off-key as she finished up the day's meals. We have gathered with more family, played folf, pinochle and memory. We have sat, strolled, talked and laughed.


I haven't been online or, really, anywhere other than within a few feet of my family. I have loved unplugging and unwinding. And it was oh so necessary. Several times Andy and I talked about how we could feel tension unraveling in this magical place of mom and dad's house, where the girls are held, hugged and kissed, given matching gram-made nightgowns and matching baby dolls.


The magical place where Christmas decorations of my childhood are tucked into every corner, where I realize I forgot to pack Margot's undies and my mom just happens to have some, you know, just in case. Where my dad has endless energy for romping and wrestling and fun in the way only dads do. Where the woods out back contain wonder and mystery and, upon closer inspection, a real fairy house with a sparkly bed and twig roof. We leave her gifts in the afternoon and she returns the favor the next morning.


Everything here has been breezy and comfortable. I regularly find myself sitting back about to burst with gratitude. I feel wonderfully peaceful and excited for 2012. Big new adventures await! Beginning with us moving out of our home by January 10 (!!) and into a tiny studio apartment (the apartment is in our new house, the house is being rented until June). Andy flew back a bit early to get a jump start. He just texted me a photo of a U Haul truck in our backyard. Wow. We'll join him tomorrow. And there will be lots to write about. For now, I still have one day of nothing but Margot practicing her wink, Ruby playing peek-a-boo in a laundry basket, slow dish-washing and drying, walks to frozen lakes and fairy sightings.


:: :: :: 

all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com


Kristi C. said...

Happy times - and happy holidays! Let the whirlwind wait. Enjoy.

TRB Holt said...

"my mom humming off-key", yup that's me!
OH the joy that is in my heart having you all here! I never tire of "uppie" Grammy from Rubes and endless hugs and lap climbing from Margot! NOW this is Christmas!
My son-in-law is simply the BEST! AND I possibly have the most beautiful daughter in the world, inside & out!
2012 is going to be a great year indeed!
Love to all!
xoxo, Mom/Terri/Gram

Tiffany said...

Welcome to Minnesota! We had a gloriously mild Christmas (weather speaking). It's only too bad the Hollidazzle parade doesn't go past Christmas like it used to! Good luck with the move!

Ozzy said...

Beautiful post, Nici. Happy Holidays to you and your family! Your visit to Minnesota sounds perfectly magical and I LOVED your Garrison Keillor Narration, that was basically awesome!I'm waiting on my step-daughter to arrive from the twin cities for our holiday visit and I can barely contain myself, I'm too excited! Family is that all important magic ingredient that makes our celebrations special (oh how I miss my dearly departed parents at these times).
What a year you've had! I'm inspired by you and all you've accomplished. In 12 months I hope to be looking back on a beautiful year full of growth and momentum. Good luck with your move ~ Glad your heart is feeling right about all of it! Happy New Year!

Kim said...

How utterly charming and perfect, just as it should be.
Sending lots of good moving vibes your way xx

Annie said...

Love the title! (since I live in MN). Now I will go back and read beyond the title : )

ctb said...

run alice, run!

Erika said...

I love the magical bitty rainbow in that final photo. Excited for your new home!

dig this chick said...


WOW. I didn't even notice that rainbow. Must be the fairy.

Elliott said...

I'm in Minnesota visiting my parents, too. It's so fun to be home, watch the cousins run and play and I have never seen the ice this clear of snow. I woke up this morning to see two guys use the entire bay as a hockey rink.

We've also been enjoying flannel sheets and a king sized bed which feels so good since the bed usually acquires an extra three people at different times throughout the night.

Here's to a great 2012! Hoping for a smooth transition into the new home!

Annie said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful centering time. As special as the morning time I have with my kids is, it is very nice to get a moment to stay in bed a little longer knowing how loved and cared for my kids are when we stay with my parents at our family cabin.
Thinking of you and your family and you pack up and begin the next stage of your adventure!

Sian said...

Moving can be so stressful but exciting too. Here's to new beginnings. I hope you have had a lovely Christmas x

Angie said...

I love it. I just love it all! You are such a great writer!! I felt like the experience was my own...beautiful!

Angie from Ohio

Minnesotagal said...

Glad Minnesota was as magical for you as it is for us on a daily basis. I love this land of 10,000 lakes! What it lacks on mountains it makes up for in water. It put a smile on my face to see it represented so gloriously. Wishing you moments of peace in the chaotic days to come. Happy new year!

Katie (Mama May I) said...

Sounds wonderful, Nici. Glad you're resting up, and rock on Andy for going home to get a jump start on the move.
Looking so forward to following along here as 2012 unfolds for you and your dear sweet fam.


gelka said...

Oh Sweet sweet Alice...that smile...that flounce. How I do think you would love to play with my Sally-girl.


Seelife3d said...

I think all Grandmas have a secret power...I use to think that Moms did too. But now that Im a Momma, I think its just luck and knowing your kiddos =)
I went on a little search, because all of your changes happening made me think...here is a poem that I think fits nicely...


There is a rightful order found
Beyond the things that seem to be,
Something beneath the surface seen
Hidden behind prevalent schemes.

I know this fact through feelings felt
in such relief that come to mind,
When in life I do my bit
And leave results to Spirit's will.

There is a rightful order found
In which Spirit our lives arrange,
Giving us what we rightly earn
With precision in circumstance,

Designed to rhyme and meet somehow
In a rightful order, time, and place.

From the Book - Poems of Life

FinnyKnits said...

Happy Life! Safe moves. Big loves :-)

Jenn said...

Yay for Minnesota! Glad that you and your family had a great time here. I wish you would have brought some of that Montana snow with you ;)

Maggie said...

Love this post. I am a MN gal living in Missoula now, and when I head back to the frigid mid-west it is always magical. My parents are a source of peace and strength and I always unplug for the week. I don't check email, Facebook or blog. I just breathe in my family and breathe out joy. Good luck with your move and Happy New Year!

Tina said...

So happy for you that you were able to spend the holidays with your family. How wonderful! It sounds like you really needed it and deserved it!

erin said...

That picture on the sled - priceless! Ruby's little red nose is too cute.

Kelly Cach said...


Wow, that last photo of you and your girls? ....so much beauty caught right there.

And the matching jammies? LOVE. For so many reasons.

Your descriptions of your life, your family, your marriage, your babies....it all brings me to tears and fills me with so much emotion (in a good way, if that makes sense). It is so obvious that you come from a long line of loving people you get to call your own. I could be jealous, but truly, I am soooo happy for people when I hear how full of love their lives are. My husband and I are trying hard to provide that for our kiddos. It may not be in our lineage, but it can start with us, right? And so I am happy to know that my romanticized version of "family" can actually be attained!!! You provide just the kind of example I need. Thank you for that.

Beautiful, beautiful writing Nici.

p.s. And your mom's comment made me cry, too.....so sweet!

Liane said...

It all sounds so magical, refreshing & relaxing!

Good luck with the move xxx

Baby By The Sea said...

What a great post. Sounds like you got the much needed chance to slow down after a bit of hectic episodes. I can't wait to see how the beginnings of 2012 play out in your new digs. Fingers crossed for a smooth move and smiling for all the happiness that'll surround you as you begin a new adventure. Love your pics, but seriously. Those matching nightgowns are too much. Love your sweet family.

Julia said...

I am so glad you had a chance to come to Minnesota! Sorry that we didn't have any snow for you. Your parents more than made up for it with their charming,sweet, thoughtful Christmas lovin.

I am so excited for your move. Love your Garrison comments, I adore that man.

Here is to you and your remarkable self Ms Nici.

rebecca... said...

,,,i'm so thrilled that all of you spent the holiday with your parents, how very wonderful it must have been. your description of your parents remind me so much of my own, i miss my family terribly,,,so happy your christmas was filled with magic!,,,happy new year to all of you!,,,

Sage said...

Nici! Loved this mellow post full of hope and excitement and contentment for a good life lived. Looking forward to hearing and seeing pics of your new digs. Happy New Year to you dear soul. xo

P.S. Your ruby is just so beautiful! love those golden locks. :)

fricka...leader of the nerd herd said...

OOHHH. We moved away from Minneapolis just 5 short months ago, back to South Dakota. Your stress is so familiar, I started to sweat reading about it. Good luck, I wish you a quick and uneventful move:)

Britta said...

Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful!

Good luck with the upcoming move and the new year!

Jill said...

Love, love, love this happy magical update!

Jill B (Overland Park, KS)

Baby By The Sea said...

Just about to go to bed and found myself thinking about your NPR narration. Love it, love you..

Happiness is... said...

I am coming off of a week unplugged. Finally catching up on aging posts while watching my girl and my man sit on the floor playing with small princesses, pretending to be Cinderella and a good fairy godmother. Ben makes the funniest voices.

You earned this break. When you run and get a cramp and have to push on but you need to catch your breath - yep, that is what your Christmas is - recovery to keep pushing through. So glad for all the captured magic at your parents' house. The matching nightgowns (and baby dolls), the fairy house - so many wonderful treasured moments.

And the Garrison Keillor narrative…I read it with his voice pacing the words through my head in his own special way. Here's wishing you a wonderful 2012 and the strength and the awareness to finish the move. Knowing you, you will have some wonderful way to respect your first home before setting all sites on your new abode.

Happiest Holidays!