Re-thinking Christmas

I'm not rethinking ALL of Christmas. Just the tree.  Though it could be argued that the tree is the symbol of Christmas in your home, so maybe rethinking the tree will sort of ripple out and effect all the other parts of my Christmas too.  That would be ok.

For your viewing enjoyment here are some pictures of Christmas trees we have had over the years.




Those trees were fine.  But I always wanted something GRAND.  Beautiful and sophisticated and Glamorous and Breathtaking.  And I couldn't ever do it.  My favorite trees at the Festival of Trees were always the ones with huge ornaments and beauty and grace and a touch of whimsy.  And I bought a few huge ornaments, but it was never good enough.  I just couldn't accomplish what I envisioned.   And it seemed to be made worse by my unfinished Family Room, which made me very angry at the room for not being done yet. Stupid Room!  It was ruining Christmas!

Richard has long preferred colored lights on a tree.  And as inflexible as I am, I finally gave in, even though they are neither sophisticated nor grand.  We have adopted this new method of compromise when it comes to our tastes and opinions, since we both have them.  We take turns.  This year we’ll decorate the tree the way HE likes it, and next year it is my turn again, etc., etc.

So we put colored lights on the tree.  And then started hanging some of our many Christmas balls, but after just one bag full Richard said that was enough.  Really?  I've got a giant box full of these things.  That is all you want?  Yeah, he said.  They are all just too fancy for him.   

So then we pulled out the little box of ornaments from down at the bottom of the Christmas tub, the ones that never get used.  The ones that didn't fit into any style or color theme I ever had going on.  The ones I got from people on my mission.  The ones Harrison made in school and in church.  The ones that have been given to us as gifts in Christmas past.  And as we hung them I realized how sad it is that I've never used them before.  I've never even hung my own son’s handmade ornaments on the tree because they didn't match.  My dumb stuck-up tree was always too full of itself to let those who were different into its little clique.  What an arrogant, elitist tree!  

Then I started thinking how fun it would be to finally make some of those great handmade ornaments I've seen on pinterest.  And how cool it would be to give the boys an ornament each Christmas as a memento of the year.  And with all these personalized, unique ornaments, our tree could grow with our family and act as a cone-shaped scrapbook of our life together.  Maybe, just maybe, my tree shouldn't be a symbol of style and sophistication, but of our family.

This feels very right to me.  And was probably obvious to everyone else, but it has taken me 10 years to get here.  And I like it.   It sits warm deep in my belly and makes the coming holiday feel simple and exciting.  So now I’m thinking the colored lights might stay. 

But now I’m also stuck with Richard having the ultimate say of what goes on the tree for the rest of the year.  Do you think I could talk him into letting us put a paper chain on it?  Maybe a string of popcorn?

Colored lights are pretty homey, aren't they? 


And sometimes they make your house look like a Sci-Fi Disco Party. 

Awesome.

A Single Act of Kindess

I want to say 2 things.

1. SNOW.


Right?  Do you ever think, “Oh, its snowing.  I guess I'm not going anywhere till Spring.”  Yeah.  Me too.  Snow should be enjoyed from inside the house sitting in front of a fire holding a mug of hot cocoa.  If that means I am turning into an old lady then fine by me. 

2. Sundays are rough.  I was gonna make a joke about how maybe that is just me and all of you probably find it very easy and relaxing, but what is the point?  Sundays are rough sometimes and everybody knows it.

My husband is in meetings all morning so I’m getting the kids ready by myself.  Which is fine.  Except that I’m still not that good at it.  And even with church starting at 11:00, and even if I give myself plenty of time to get ready, just getting my boys dressed and out the door is harrowing, at best.  

This particular snowy morning as I tried to get my boys clothed in a timely fashion my 2-year-old was furious with me because I insisted on putting his socks on his feet, instead of on his hands where he wanted them.  How can they be Batman gloves if they are on his feet?  And THEN I had to go and put his belt on his pants, of all the horrendous places, instead of around his head like a Batman mask.  How could I be so cruel? 

Fighting with him is exhausting, and all the while I was still trying to get the 5 year old to put his own clothes on which was only made difficult by the fact that he wouldn't stop jumping on the couch.  YOU try to get dressed while jumping on a trampoline sometime.  It isn't easy.  When they were finally dressed and it was time to put my own shoes on I was ready to crawl into bed. 

Knowing that I've first got to scrape the snow off my car so that I can head to church to wrestle with my boys for over an hour isn't a really strong motivator, so I was just trying to bear myself up for the battle ahead as I grabbed my bag and keys.  Then I heard Harrison shout from outside, “Mommy!  Someone’s helping us!”

I stepped outside to see the man who lives across the street cleaning the snow off my car.  He had been out shoveling his driveway, had seen that we were getting ready to leave and had simply helped. 

I was very touched, and thanked him and he said, “Aw, you shouldn't have to do this in your church clothes.”   He finished cleaning off the car while I loaded the kids into their seats.  And then I thanked him several times again and we were off. 

Obviously I had not been in the best mood.  Obviously I was going to be horrible company and was not going to get anything out of church and everyone was going to end the day miserable.  But my friendly neighbor changed everything when he decided to do something nice for me, just for the heck of it.  

The power of a single act of kindness.  It is huge.  More far reaching than we are capable of seeing.  I could say lots of other things now about its hugeness and far-reachingness, but I want you all to go home and think of your own things to say, and then find someone to say them to, cuz I have to go to bed.

Thanks again nice neighbor!  I'm still in a good mood.  I think you brightened my whole winter.