Tag Archives: Christmas

Undecking the halls

Is there a sadder annual chore than taking down the Christmas tree?

When we trim the tree, there’s such hope. Not only “hope” in the traditional Advent kind of way. But hope for the season. That all the presents will be perfect. That all the children will be happy all the time, even on long car rides. That everyone will get along. That all of the food will be ready at the same time. That you will take advantage of the long university break and work out every day and clean closets and figure out how to use an iPod. That your sister will make apple pie for New Year’s dinner. (Never mind.)

Actually, I usually start the holiday season with fairly realistic expectations. I know that, like most things, there will be good and there will be not-so-good. That nothing is perfect. That much of how it all turns out will be out of my control. (Imagine that, something being out of my control.)  But somewhere along the way, I get sucked into the Christmas vortex. My expectations rise.

And, as usually happens in life, there was good and there was so-so and there was not so good.

Not every gift was a delight. Some will never be played with and will be taken to Goodwill as part of next year’s pre-Christmas toy purge.  (And one or two didn’t even make it through Christmas morning without a tiny-but-important piece being lost.)

Feelings were hurt.

Situations were uncomfortable.

People got tired and cranky.  (Mostly me.)

Kids got bored and crabby and threw french fries at each other in the car.

But there was lots of good as well. Laughter with family and good friends. Long days with no plans and no goals. Cookies and carrots that magically disappeared after Christmas-eve bedtime, much to a 4-year-old’s amazement. Presents that delighted. Reconnections with people I don’t see very often.

And now it is over. The tree comes down and the decorations go back into storage. Until they come out again, bringing with them the hope of next holiday season.

When everything will be perfect.

 

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3,2,1…done

I always feel like Christmas is a race to the finish line.  The race starts the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s over when we leave for church on Christmas Eve.  We crossed the finish line today at 4:20 EST.

That’s not to say that there aren’t fun times in-between.  Picking out the tree was fun.

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Actually, picking out the tree wasn’t that fun.  The kids got cold in about 3 minutes and started to whine.  But it is a pretty tree (although now, 11 days later, all you have to do is look at the tree and the needles fall off.)

No, as usual, the fun was in the little things.  In going to the zoo the Saturday after Thanksgiving, because we had a free day. In Advent Craft Night at church, where we made crafts and hung out with many church friends.  In wrapping presents with Emma, which has become an annual tradition which means a lot to her.  In baking cookies. And making many batches of Chex party mix.

And in our annual Christmas picture, which we take in front of the tree. 

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On Friday, we head to Central PA for a Christmas celebration with my family.  Now that all of the preparation is over, it should be a nice, relaxing time.  It won’t ever be the same without my dad telling stories.  But we will start new traditions, and sing, and play games, and it will be okay.

I won’t have computer access in the Land That Time Forgot, so my next blog post won’t be for a week or so.  Merry Christmas to everyone and may 2009 bring many blessings to all.

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The card’s not in the mail yet

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I’ve made a decision.  On the recommendation of my friend Betsy, I’m sending Valentine’s Day cards this year.  Said another way, I’m not sending Christmas cards. 

I love to receive Christmas cards. I love to see how my friends’ kids changed in a year’s time.  Who went through a growth spurt, who changed from toddler to little boy, who started out looking like Mom and now looks like Dad.  And I know that you have to give to receive.

But the holidays can be crazy and stressful (I always feel like for one month, Christmas adds a full-time job on top of the two full-time jobs and many part-time jobs I already have.) So it’s really important for me to focus on activities that feed my soul.  Things that bring me joy, things that are becoming traditions within our family, things that help me connect with the people I love, and things that help me connect with my Higher Power.  And far from feeding my sould, sending Christmas cards is, for me, one big soul-sucking adventure.  For one thing, there are just too many steps involved.  Step 1 – get the kids into nice clothes that sort of match. Step 2 – get the kids to pose for a picture, preferably in front of the tree.  Step 3 – select a photo and order the prints. Step 4 – buy the cards. Step 5 – write a Christmas letter (or even worse, write a message on each card).  Step 6 – put the address label and the return label on. Step 7 – put the stamps on.  Step 8 – go to the post office and mail the goddamn things.  I always feel like crying “uncle” around Step 5, but I can’t really stop there after I’ve put so much effort into it already.

There are so many other things I enjoy doing to prepare for Christmas, and some that I don’t but aren’t optional.  I love trimming the tree, I love baking cookies, I love singing in our annual Advent Lessons and Carols program at church. (Did I say “so many other things”? I meant “3”.)  I don’t love shopping and I detest wrapping, but I pretty much have to do those things or I’d be extremely unpopular in my house.

I can’t just eliminate sending cards altogether, or I fear I’ll be dropped from everyone’s Christmas card list within two years.  And in addition to those photos, I do enjoy that once-a-year catch-up that the Christmas cards bring from far-away friends who…now…all…happen…to…be…my…friends….on…Facebook…and…know…every…detail…

On second thought, never mind.  Bye-bye cards, Christmas or Valentine’s Day.  You served your purpose, but you’re now gone from my life forever.

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