This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Normal Rockwell Christmas...

It's as done as it's going to get.
Christmas decorating, that is.

Now I'll be the first to tell you that I LOVE this season.

I love the decorating...
I love the baking...
I love trying to find just the right gift to make someone smile...
I love Christmas music...
I love the Salvation Army bell ringers...
I love the overwhelming joy that comes to me when I realize that most of the world is celebrating (whether they want to admit it or not!) the fact that God poured Himself into a human and came down to this uncomfortable-cold-hard-scary world just because He loves us.

So....I love this season.

And even though I have no doubt what Christmas is really all about...I also love making my home sparkly and festive.

The biggest part of that is our tree.

We are blessed to not have allergies in this family, so we've always gotten a (sorry to the environmentalist in my friend group!!) live tree.

(I don't go so far as to travel to somewhere cold and snowy and physically cut down a tree...but I do travel to Albert's on 7th Street and point to one myself.  And it's sometimes cold at Albert's.)

In our old world home once we got the 12-14 foot tree set up I would let it stand for a day or two to let the branches settle.

Then I would take 1-2 days to get the lights perfectly wrapped around each branch....sometimes using close to 34 billion thousand lights on the tree.

No one was allowed to help me with the was MY thing.

Then one evening we'd put on Christmas carols and the kids and I would put the ornaments on while RH slept on the couch in front of the tree supervised.

I'd lay out all of the ornaments that THEY were allowed to put on....and then make a pile of "Mom hang-able only" ones for myself to deal with.

These included the very breakable and/or precious ones such as;  first Christmas lenox ones,  ones I made in kindergarten, bulbs from my parents' first tree, etc.

Of course we'd talk about the different ornaments and the memories and traditions surrounding them...and the kids and I all loved that.

And here's the true confession time:  after they went to bed, I'd quietly get the ladder back out and rearrange the tree to MY liking.
I'd move ornaments from the HUGE grouping that always appeared right at the kids' arm levels and strategically place them where I wanted them to be.

IF any of them noticed the next day that their arrangements had been relocated, I'd flat out lie explain that some of the ornaments had "fallen off" and I simply put them back on.

I and the Grinch are pretty tight.

Anyway....that system had worked pretty well for the last 11 years of mom-hood.

So......this year has been a little different.

I love understatements.

Anyway...this year the kids and I did go to Albert's and pick a tree. our current 70's home we have super-high ceilings, so we picked a gi-normous tree that really was not in our budget.

(((But by geeze....THIS Christmas is going to OOOOZE Christmas and be as OVER THE TOP as we can make it because ALL of this festivity is going to completely cover the fact that our family (and hence our household) are NOT in the right home this year.)))

And the very next day, instead of waiting for "branch-settlement",  I put lights on.

And I only used about 1/2 of the lights in the box because I--for some weird reason--didn't want to put forth all of the effort it would take to put all of those lights on.

Strange....but time-saving I guess.

Then that very same evening I put on the carols and we opened up the ornament boxes I had retrieved from our warehouse that morning.

The first box had definitely taken in some water PT....and maybe even had some heat damage at some point.

All of the ornaments (and weirdly enough...there were quite a few of these) that the kids had made with peppermint candies on them had completely melted and formed a minty hardened glopulous mess all over the ornaments below them.

(Gross....but it smelled good.)

About half of the plain colored glass bulbs were broken, and the others had this weird spotty crackle on them.

(Interesting look....maybe a new trend?)

Some of the plush homemade ones had water stains but no mold....
Some of the photos in the "made at a class party" ones were water damaged and ruined....
But all in all most of them were ok.

Compared to many of my friends who never even found ONE of their ornaments....we were pretty darn lucky.

So I began separating them out into "kid-hangable" and "mom-hangable" piles.

After a while Ethan noticed that there was a forbidden zone....and of course immediately began trying to invade the borders.

"Why can't we hang those?  Why can only you?  That's really not fair.  Why?"

And I used my standard super-ultra-perfect-nice-mom response:

"Because I'm the mom...I'm the boss...and that's the way I want it."

Nice, I know.
Like I said....the Grinch is my bud.

But then I had one of those moments.
An epiphany, I believe it's called.

Just like I really didn't care how many lights made it onto my tree this year....
I didn't really care about those ornaments.

Now listen:
I do love love love the memories that old family ornaments invoke.
I love having a tree full of stories and symbols and remembrances.
I am so very grateful that my family ornaments made it out of the tornado relatively unscathed.

I feel so bad for my girlfriends that don't have those sweet little thumbprints and pictures and smooshed up peppermint/glitter masterpieces that their kids created....and I REALLY don't want to downplay the fact that I know how very blessed I am to still have mine.

I also realize that I might very well feel differently if I no longer had my family ornaments.

But truth?

At that moment (and right now!)....the ornaments themselves meant very very little to me.

So I said to my surprised children:

"Actually.....go for it.  Hang anything you want.  Have at it."

Once they picked their jaws up from the floor they WENT FOR IT.

Of course within 1.2 minutes there was an accident.

A personalized collectible "First Christmas" bear in a high chair shattered into 17 pieces.

Ethan looked at me in horror and began crying, "I am so sorry!  I didn't mean to!  That was my special ornament and I broke it!!!!!!!"

And I just looked at him, smiled, and said with the utmost honesty:
"Ethan....It simply does NOT matter.  It's nothing but glass.  Who cares?"

And he stopped crying.
And stared at me.
They all did.
And I smiled at them all, and told them to keep on decorating.

At the end of the night we had a very full tree.
Most of the ornaments were....and still are, I'm happy to say....concentrated in a band that ranges in height from Carolyn's reach to Bennett's reach.

It sort of looks like the tree has a belt actually.

And maybe 10 or 11 ornaments got broken during the decorating process.
Some of these were special.
Some weren't.
One I broke myself.

But....really....who cares?

I have three amazing kids around my tree.
I have a husband sleeping soundly next to the tree.
I have a roof over all of our heads and a basement under all of our feet.

And that's really all I need to make this crazy 'ol house look pretty darn festive.

Although the disco ball reflecting the Christmas lights helps, too.

1 comment:

Jenny Zauche said...

Shannon, I could not help but remember the night that I was adopted into your family to help decorate your tree. I am glad most of your ornaments survived! :)