Sally: “I've been looking for you big brother. Will you write a letter to Santa Claus for me?”

Charlie: “Well, I'm on my way to rehearsal for the Christmas play, but I guess so.”

Sally: “You write it, and I'll tell you what I want to say.”

Charlie: “Okay, shoot.”

Sally: “Dear Santa Claus...”

I could go on, but I imagine whoever owns the rights to _A Charlie Brown Christmas _ would fine me for copyright infringement of some kind. I believe I could recite the whole thing—start to finish—from memory.

Every year since I can remember, I've watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with my family. We try and figure out which member of our family is which of the dancing kids when Schroeder plays the piano, we quote Lucy's lines as she “analyzes” Charlie, and Mom always turns the volume up when Linus steps into the spotlight to tell everyone about the real meaning of Christmas. We haven't done it yet this year, and I can't wait!

As for how the Phillips family is doing, I'd say we're all doing well. Cate's first birthday came and went in October, and we were left with two very conflicting feelings: we can't believe it's already been a year since we brought her home from the hospital; and we can't believe it's only been a year, because we have a tough time remembering what life was like before her. She is so many things that we can no longer live without.

She's cuddly.

She's determined.

She's smart.

She's loving.

She's fast.

She's imaginative.

She's independent.

She's ours.

Nate and I have been very busy trying to keep track of her. This year is the first year she's been able to appreciate our Christmas tree, and she loves it. She stares at the lights and pokes the branches. Then, she'll attempt to remove one of the low-hanging ornaments. It's a predictable scenario.

“Cate, no.”

She freezes, not looking at me. After a few frozen moments, she continues trying to take the ornament off.

“Caaaate, no.”

She looks at me, gives me a I-want-to-do-what-I-want-to-do look, and takes it off.

I give her my best Mommy you-can-either-obey-me-or-we're-going-to-have-an-issue look.

She hesitates, as if debating in her own mind the pros and cons of giving in. Then, she walks over to the tree and attempts to put the ornament back herself. Not understanding the whole concept of the small hooks and loops that help the ornament hang, it falls to the ground in front of her.

I offer to help her put it back on the tree, we do so, and she goes back to smiling at the pretty lights.

Nate is thoroughly convinced that, while going through this whole process, Cate is making a mental note in her mind that we have, yet again, thwarted her efforts to do something fun. He's confident that, once she is bigger, stronger, and can communicate more clearly with us, we'll somehow pay for not letting her take ornaments off the tree. Given how strong-willed she can be at times, I'm thinking he may be right. Lord, help us...  

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