Well, we'll start with the last thing first. I grew up in a family where the yearly tradition was to get the Christmas tree the night before Christmas (at least, that's what my memory recalls). While this was fine for then, I somehow grew up to be the kind of person who can't stand to have Christmasy things up when Christmas is over. So NOW if we were to get the tree the night before Christmas, we would have it up for a maximum of MAYBE four days and that's it.
Fine for me, not so fine for a household of little kids.
So we decided to get a tree as soon as we got back from where Ethan was candidating. And when we heard that considerable snow (for this region) was in the forecast, we headed out right away. It was dark, and the snow was already starting to fall, and none of the "regular" Christmas tree lots were open. (Last year we were spoiled and our Montana logger friend brought us a tree from the woods ... the real woods ... but if you don't have this option, what fun is it to cut down a tree from a "farm"? So to the lots we headed.)
We were getting a little discouraged (and hungry!) when I remembered the local Catholic church usually has a Christmas tree lot. So down the road we went, where, sure enough, there was a lot, there were people working in the lot, and the first tree the man pulled out was the one we wanted.
The price was right, especially at 20% off. I did hesitate as I wrote the check out to "Knights of Columbus" but figured that maybe our check saying "Calvinist and Reformed" (which it does) would somehow even things out. And to sweeten the deal (literally), a lady came over to offer a plate of brownies to the workers. They apologetically explained that they didn't think they would be staying around long enough to eat them, and then she turned and offered the plate to us.
Well. I guess there are advantages to looking like a "good Catholic family," even if you're NOT, after all.
Even after considerable cutting, the star still touches the ceiling. That's OK, because it wants to lean to the side anyway. We decided to keep the current gifts on the mantle so that a certain 18-mo. old can't give himself an early Christmas.
Decorating the tree was a bit of a challenge. We have incredible Christmas decorations, courtesy of my mother-in-law, but they are packed away in the back of the storage shed where it is impossible to get them out. So we headed to Walmart and Target to stock up on cheap balls, lights, and a special ornament for each child. They deliberated over where to hang each decoration and were especially excited to hang their snowflakes, which a kind lady at the candidating church had helped them gluestick and glitter-fy.
I'm obviously no Martha Stewart. But my children think our house is beautiful and magical, and I love that.
And outside? That IS beautiful and magical.
The other beautiful things we've seen around here are smiles. As in all-out I'm-not-sick-anymore smiles. At the advice of some friends I picked up some homeopathic cough syrup and I honestly think that did the trick. I'm sticking with the acidophilus, Vitamin D, and antibacterial hand soap after every outing, and hopefully that will help.
We're ready for Christmas. Bring it on.