Thursday, January 16, 2014

Christmas Thoughts


Christmas seems like years ago, doesn't it? 

I was going through some photos from the holidays and decided to post a few more before they get tucked away into my memory. 

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Remember earlier in the year I declared it was the year of organization and the Man and I whipped through the basement cleaning things up and out? Weeks we worked on this project. We streamlined and organized, sorted and labeled - the basement looks wonderful.

Except I forgot that I had put off organizing the Christmas decorations and had decided to clean that stuff out when this Christmas rolled around.

Bad decision.

I did not want to deal with any of it. I got so cranky about it that I did not want to put up the Christmas tree.

And so I told my family that this was the year of no Christmas tree. I was simply not up for it and anyway, I put out small lighted trees here and there and that would be close enough for me.

Outrage, astonishment, shock, and general chaos erupted. J was the worst. He got so upset about the thought of no tree that he brought it upstairs, set it up, and decorated it all by himself.

That worked out pretty good.
The Man refused to help me put up the outside lights. He had other things on his agenda. 

Pooh.

I recruited J to help me and he and I had those things up in no time. After he quit complaining about having to help me. He seemed to think that putting up the tree excused him from all other Christmas decorating.

He was soon set straight about the error of that thinking.
The day after the lights went up we got a decent snowfall. The lights look so pretty against the snow.

Then we got some more snow and I had to go out and clean off the bushes so the lights don't get buried. And I'm still enamored with the way the lights look against the uber white, super bright snow. I love driving up the road on my way home from work and seeing the lights outside our house. No one around us puts lights out so it makes our home look oh-so-cozy and warm and welcoming.

Fast forward a couple weeks and it is the night of a {now} annual Christmas party we have with some friends. I call home to make sure the Man is starting the oven to cook the chicken. He assures me the food is coming together nicely. I know the house is decorated just so, and with the assurance that the food is all good, I drive home fairly relaxed, looking forward to an evening of friends and fun and laughter.

As I drive up the road, I'm not seeing the lights. Hmm. The Man must have forgotten to turn them on in all his scurrying around getting things together.

I plug them in on my way into the house. They immediately go out. I unplug them and try again. Nothing. Entering the house, I ask the Man, What's up with the lights? They won't stay on.

We can't use the lights, says the Man. They're shorting out.

What???? They've been fine for the past three weeks, I might have screeched.

Well, for the past three weeks we haven't had rain and puddles outside. One of the connections must be in a puddle of water so we can't use the lights.

He heads downstairs to trip the fuse and I head outside. These lights are going on tonight. We have company coming and I want the house to look pretty.

I plug the lights in. And they immediately go out.

This time when I get in the house, the Man is not quite as happy to see me. What did you do? I told you we can't use the lights!

But, but....I sputter. And he trumps me.

You're going to start a fire.

Fine. No lights. 

But next year you're putting up the lights! And with that, I trump him back.

I hosted the Knitwits Christmas party this year.

I can sum it up in one word. Well, four words.

Laugh 'til you cry.
One of the Knitwits trying on her new scarf, courtesy of her Secret Santa. 

And can you see the book trees in the back behind her chair? I made one for each of my guests. Party favors! 
D was busy opening the box of chocolates I brought to Sissy's on Christmas Eve.

She has no idea there's spontaneous dancing breaking out behind her.

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When I was a kid, we spent every Christmas at Nan's house. My dad's company shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day and we would all pile in the car, loaded down with suitcases and gift packages and food, and head north on Christmas Eve to spend the week with extended family. Throughout the entire week, we would visit a different family member each day, always coming back to Nan's to sleep. We were surrounded by so many aunts, uncles, and cousins; great-aunts and great-uncles and grandparents; siblings and friends. Tables laden with food, trees sparkling with lights big and bright and tons of packages underneath. Sitting by icy windows looking down on city streets. Looking back it feels like we lived a Norman Rockwell childhood, innocent and carefree.

One of the things I remember loving was the huge box of chocolates Grampa would get for the holiday week. The box was about two feet long and had two layers of chocolates. Each night we got back, I would run to that box of chocolates and sneak one. He did that for as long as I can remember, even that last Christmas before he had the stroke.

When my kids were growing up, I wanted them to have that same memory so I always buy a huge box of chocolates to have during the holidays. I think my nieces like the tradition too. 

Since I keep the big box at my house, I brought a smaller box over to Sissy's. It's just not Christmas Eve without a chocolate or two.

And a silent thanks to my grandfather.
I love the love in this picture.

Pure love. Sincere love.

Because he got her a Staples gift card.
The annual Christmas Eve photo.

It's not the same without my niece, MR. Other Sissy and her family went south for the holidays. They drove over the river and through the woods and along the highways and byways to visit my dad for the week. 

We missed them. But I was glad my dad got to have them for the week. 

Family = love. Wherever you are.

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