Posted in Family, life

Anticipating Christmas Morning

It’s the dead, dark middle of the night.  I lay here wide awake in eager anticipation of the morning.  The house is slumbering, the only sounds are the ticking of the clocks and the occasional roar of the heater coming on.  Visions of sugar plums, I imagine, are floating.  J-Dub just went to bed a little while ago after staying up doing what dads do on Christmas Eve:  screwing screws and fumbling through instructions entitled “some assembly required” when what that really means is, “assemble these million parts of nonsense with as few cuss words as possible”.  After all, it is Christmas and there’s no cussin’ on Christmas.  That’s probably a written rule somewhere.

Christmas present is different to me from Christmas pasts.  I now anticipate the morning, not to receive, but to see that little face light up with the giving.  The wonder.  The magic.  The joy of it all through the eyes of child.

I snuck out of bed and tiptoed into the dark to see what EK will see when she stumbles in bleary-eyed in the morning.  There is a massive dollhouse; one that I never imagined would be that big.  (I’ve got to get better at reading the fine print).  And somewhere is the Beauty and the Beast movie, her own personal request to Santa Claus himself when she hesitantly sat upon his knee and whispered her desire.

Here’s a little before/after.  The kids these days call this a Transformation Tuesday I believe, but I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going, much less what day it is for all that.

Last year’s Santa pic to this year.  She actually sat on his lap this year, but still wearing the same look of uncertainty on her face.

IMG_3233

Oh it’s fun really, isn’t it?  I need to remind myself of that often.  Having a little family of my own.  Creating and making our own traditions and memories.  I don’t want Christmas to be an elaborate affair.  A few gifts, with the emphasis on the true meaning.  This year, I followed this little mantra of gift giving:  something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

We began a Jesse tree for advent, working through the Bible stories leading to the coming of Jesus on that holy night.  I was sewing the ornaments with a little felt and embroidery thread.  We were gathering around a little tree in EK’s room reading the stores each night, but as in typical fashion, that kind of fizzled out.  I think I made it through the burning bush.  There’s always next year, right?

 I’ve got promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

We went and enjoyed the second annual cutting of the tree this year.  I walked the forest along with my family trying to find the “perfect” Christmas tree.  During the inspection of each tree, I composed a whole blog post in my mind about how “choosing a Christmas tree is like choosing a spouse” but as in typical fashion, I never got that posted.  But it’s a no-brainer.  You get it.  There is no perfect tree, just as there is no perfect mate.  But the moral of the story is: pick one you can live with.  Learn to love their quirks and eventually they’ll die.

Um, maybe that’s not the best moral, but it’s the truth.

DSC_2148Well I’ll sign off now and try to get some shut-eye before dawn rolls in.

Have a merry Christmas!!

Advertisements
Posted in Faith, Family

The Reason I Cried on Christmas

We left Christmas day, loaded up the family and the dogs and drove to my mom’s house, 6 hours away.

I wanted to have Christmas morning at home, open the presents with just the few of us, then leave.  But after opening presents, we had to take down the tree, because I didn’t want to come home to a dry, crusty tree with needles littering the floor.  And then I needed to clean out the fridge, because I didn’t want to come home two weeks later to green, fuzzy mac and cheese.   Because obviously, the mac and cheese has been in the fridge for two weeks already.

Of course, then I wanted to get all the laundry done because I didn’t want to come home with suitcases full of dirty clothes to add to Mount Washalot that has erected itself in my laundry room.

We all know when you’ve been away from your house for nearly two weeks, what you want to come home to is not laundry, your dead Christmas tree, or month old leftovers, but what you want to come home to is your bed and your shower.  I was being proactive, longing for the day I would return before I ever left.

After arriving at my mom’s house, we opened presents.  Now there are families who have organized Christmas present opening, and then there are families who don’t.  I would belong to the latter.  Paper is flying, kids are screaming, you practically need ear plugs for all the shouting and people talking at once.  It is sheer chaos.  Someone inevitably opens someone else’s underwear and looks quizzically at it until someone shouts out “that belongs to uncle herbert” or something like it.  Also there is usually a lone, leftover present buried under the wrappings that is discovered during clean up, which the recipient grabs with glee.

I got towels.  Which is not the reason I cried on Christmas.

The reason I cried on Christmas is because tucked inside the box with the towels was an envelope addressed to me, written in my dad’s printed hand,  with my mom’s address (I haven’t lived there in more than 20 years).  No matter how many years he’s been gone, I doubt I’ll ever forget his handwriting.   I held the card and studied it curiously, much like the kid with someone else’s underwear in hand.  The room shouted and carried on around me, but I was alone with this envelope.

I turned it over.  My uncle, my dad’s only brother, had written on the back.  He had found it and decided to send it on to me.  You see, my parents separated when I was about 12 years old, and my dad moved to Oklahoma.  It was still the age of letter writing so it wasn’t uncommon to receive his cards and letters, usually with a little cash tucked inside.  While we were growing up, we talked on the phone every Sunday after church.  That’s when he knew he could reach my sister and I together, along with the rest of the family, because we all met together at my grandmother’s house,( the very house I sit in while typing this), for Sunday dinner that always, without fail, consisted of roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, and rolls.

I held the card in both of my hands and with a bit of a nervous nature I opened it carefully, trying not to tear off any of the writing, the post mark, or any part of the envelope.  It had instantly become precious to me.  A message from my dad, nearly three years after he died.

Inside was a card.  A Valentine’s card for a little girl.   With hearts, a rainbow, and a teddy bear on the front.  I didn’t bother reading the message inside the card, but instead my eyes fell to the blue ink underneath the commercial greeting, where my dad had written, “I love and miss you daily—- DAD”

And that’s why I cried on Christmas.

Tears began to fall uncontrollably.  You see, I expected to receive the towels.  (My mom’s been harping on me for years about my towels.)  I expected the sweater, the oil and vinegar bottle, all the things I had told people I wanted.  But this card, this was an unexpected surprise.  A Valentine’s Day card on Christmas Day.

And the message he gave me, although he meant it years ago and it was intended to be read in the past, was more than fitting for the present.  Because now, our situation has changed and he’s the one who is loved and missed daily.

I wiped my tears away quickly with the palm of my hand to no avail.  More fell just as swiftly as I wiped.  I then showed the card to my family.  I don’t think any of them understood, until I face timed my sister.

She got it.  She understood.

My dad was with me for Christmas this year.

It was the best gift I have ever received.

20131230-153102.jpg 20131230-153044.jpg

Uncle Leon, Thank you so much for sending it on.

Posted in Family

Chopping Down the Tree

I’ve talked about it before, about this imaginary world inside my head.  Fantopia, it’s called.  It’s a fantasy utopia where my life is perfect.  It’s a nice place, until I try to merge Fantopia with Reality, then it’s just depressing.

Case in point:  Since we moved to the mountains, we thought it would be a fun, new family tradition to go to the forest and cut down a Christmas tree.  Can’t you picture it?  The fun, the family, the forest.  Just us and an axe and a small pine tree.

I have looked forward to this for a few months.  In Fantopia, where everything is perfect, we adorn ourselves in flannel grays and reds and caps with earflaps and we load up in the truck.  We sing Christmas carols on the way to the woods where we trek through the snow to find the perfect Christmas tree waiting just for our family.  We hold hands and encircle it, singing Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, with wide smiles on our faces.  

Then we chop it down, while posing for a family picture that would later be sent out in Christmas cards to friends and family near and far.  After we get home, we drink hot chocolate while listening to Christmas carols on the radio, the house warmed with fire and love.  

In Reality, this is what happened instead:  We had no matching flannel grays and reds or hats with flaps, we barely found everyone’s jackets.  We loaded up in the truck, along with a pink ladybug potty seat, since EK hasn’t learned to squat in the woods just yet.  We drove way too far and way too long to find the perfect Christmas tree.  EK sat in her seat and complained the whole time, arguing with Ashlynn and fussing when she touched her carseat.   We trekked around in a little bit of snow, not finding a tree even close to perfect.

So we loaded back up in the truck and drove some more all the while analyzing trees.  Too short, too tall, too thin, too scraggly.  Let’s get out and check that one out.  Nope.  How about that one?  Nope.  Finally we agreed, more from exhaustion than satisfaction on a small little tree with a split trunk.  Thankfully EK had fallen asleep by this time and we were all breathing a sigh of relief,  but unfortunately the family photo op didn’t happen with her in it.

DSC_2188  DSC_2196

Once home, we couldn’t find the tree stand because obviously I’d thrown it out in one of my decluttering stages.  After one run to Walmart for a tree stand, we discovered we didn’t have any working lights, so back to Walmart again.  JDub went to work on the tree.  He trimmed it up, cut it off, and dug out an old bird’s nest.  And then it took a good long while to put the tree in it’s stand without tipping over.

It is a monstrosity!  Here’s a tidbit:  A small tree in the forest is a big tree in your living room.  It may look small out in the big old wilderness next to behemoth pines, but indoors next to the Lazy Boy, it’s quite impressive.  It’s got one side that’s bare and one side that looks pregnant.  It’s crooked and crazy.  Some limbs grow up, some grow down.

Instead of the family joining together and decorating, I did it begrudgingly, realizing much too late that we should have said to heck with family traditions and put up the dadgum prelit Christmas tree sitting in the garage with its tree stand tucked safely in its green vinyl bag.

So while everyone in the world displays and enjoys their perfectly shaped trees with color coordinated ornaments, I give you our tree with no lights on the top because there’s no way I could have reached it even if I had enough lights to put on it, with its hodgepodge mixmatched ornaments from way back.  It’s not pretty, it’s not decorated well, the bottom strand of lights flicker on and off sporadically, and it sticks out nearly to the front door.

DSC_2203

But after all the hoopla, today I have to say it’s kind of growing on me with all its imperfections.  It’s like so many of us.  Messed up in all sorts of ways.  But that’s the way it was created, just like us.  So instead of looking upon it with contempt,  I embrace this messed up tree and rid myself of the perfectionistic attitude that society forces upon me as to what our Christmas tree should look like.

It is what it is.

And so am I.

‘Tis the season.

Posted in Family

Christmas Morning

 

 

 

I don’t know how your family does it, but my family tears it up, literally.

There is no designated “Santa” to pass out gifts.  We don’t sit patiently taking turns watching others open gifts.  It’s pretty much a free for all!

It is loud.  Paper is tearing, boxes are tossed across the living room, people are hollering screams of excitement and sometimes groans of disappointment are heard.

It’s a complete disaster when it’s over, and there’s really no telling how many gifts get thrown out with the wrappings and bows.

 

I didn’t get many pictures, but I managed a few.

DSC_2081

 

DSC_2072

 

DSC_2068

DSC_2073

DSC_2075

DSC_2077

DSC_2079

 

DSC_2069

DSC_2082

 

 

DSC_2159

 

 

 

Hope everyone had a blessed Christmas!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The First Night

We loaded a borrowed horsetrailer with pots and pans, sheets, and an overnight bag along with an assortment of cardboard boxes I have spent the last 3 weeks packing up and we headed west.

We thought it a good idea to get a jump on moving to our new home in Ruidoso and besides just being a good idea, we’re too excited not to get a headstart.

As J-dub and I carried in box after box in the dark, our niece Ash and our near 11 month old EK were busy too.

Even though it’s already the 23rd of December, and even though we won’t be here for Christmas day, but because it’s EK’s first one and because  it’s the good and proper thing to do in a new house in December, they set about putting up the Christmas tree.

Some of the lights wouldn’t light, and it’s bare on the bottom where EK can reach.

IMG_1369

It’s not perfect, but neither are we.
IMG_1370

IMG_1371

But it puts a smile on my face, as does the sweet girls who worked on it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Stress? Why yes, I’ll have another.

My blog has been rather quiet lately and I hate that, but that’s because right now I am literally up to my eyeballs in moving boxes.

I had this great idea to start the process of packing early, uncluttering, and only taking the essentials.  And it seems that has dragged this whole shindig out way too long. Image

Needless to say, I’m a wee bit stressed right now.

I have a motto that I try to live by.  “Live Simply”.  And so far, I’m pretty much stinking it up.  I  have no idea how on this blessed earth I have managed to accumulate so many things.  Anybody relate?  I mean really, do I need two Bundt pans?  And it’s not as if I’ve lived in the same place for 40 years.  We’ve only lived here for about 2 years.  You would think I would have cleaned out the last time we moved. But my lazy bones got the best of me and I just moved all the stuff and decided to deal with it later.  And later has become now.

In the process of cleaning out, I’ve had to make some really tough decisions.  It seems my hoarding/sentimental side can come up with a myriad of excuses as to why I should keep the things I own.

But your grandma/dad/brother/third cousin twice removed gave that to you.

What if you host Christmas or Thanksgiving some year?  You might need 24 drinking glasses.

You actually plan on making something crafty with that broken rake head, remember?

It’s nice to have a spare coffee pot, iron, Bundt pan. What if the other breaks?

This needless, worthless, piece of junk might be worth money some day.

You paid a lot for that {insert item here} 24 years ago.

To my hoarding/sentimental self, I’ve had to say, “Enough!  Just because something was a gift, doesn’t mean I have to keep it forever.  If I ever need 24 drinking glasses, I’ll borrow some from a neighbor.  If my iron breaks, well then yippee! And just because it cost a lot 24 years ago, doesn’t mean it’s worth a thing now.  I mean, Look at it!”

Then there’s the packing.  I’ve only ever moved a short distance in the past.  So you know how that goes, you just pull the drawers out from the dresser and stack them in the horse trailer, right? Why bother actually pulling the clothes out and putting them in boxes? You make about 50 trips with small things like lamps and bread makers.  If it’s just a few miles, you don’t even have to really seal up the boxes.  Drive slowly with breakable items clinking lightly, watch the bumps, and everything will be just fine.

But we’re not going a few miles, we’re going 300 or something.

That means bubble wrap has become my new best friend.  Things I never thought actually belonged in a box are being put in a box, which makes for a lot of boxes.

Adding to the frustration of this move is attempting a day to day routine in the house while I’m packing.  Realizing I already packed the spatulas in the midst of frying eggs is never a good thing.

Plus, there’s the emotional trauma of moving from the town that I was born and raised in to a place where I won’t know anyone in the grocery store or who I can borrow 24 drinking glasses from on Thanksgiving.

And just for fun, why don’t we throw in the biggest holiday of the year right smack dab in the middle of packing and moving away from home?  Which in and of itself is a major stressor right there.   The shopping, the wrapping, the presents, the relatives.  Please pass the eggnog.

Oh, and least I forget.  Mix in a ten month old, whose really in a clingy stage or if she’s not clinging, she’s unpacking what has just been packed.

Or using the boxes to her advantage.

Image

But I will persevere.  And we will get moved in just a few more days.

One of which is a major holiday filled with gifts and presents.

Which translated means more stuff to pack.

But I gotta look on the bright side.  Maybe I can score some really great boxes.

And have eggnog.

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #17

Being Santa Claus Isn’t Always Easy, Unless You Believe
by R.L. Briggs
Commentary

Speaking from past experience, one of the best things that can happen when you are playing Santa Claus is to get those baggy pants off, the whiskers out of your mouth and those phony bootees off your shoes.

Nobody helps.  Everyone else is too busy tearing open Christmas packages, strewing tissue paper and colored wrappings around the Christmas tree.  Santa struggles on unaided.

He wrenches rib muscles, gets charlie horses, he spits angel hair from his beard, sweats and swears, he wrestles himself from the bright red Santa suit like Jacob and the Archangel.  He is accompanied by cries of delight from the recipients of all this Christmas loot who have left him to this fate.

Believe me, I know.

If you think it is any fun to prance around like an overstuffed laundry bag, being JOLLY while giving out with the HO, HO, HO’s, with a mouth full of artificial whiskers in a home-made snow storm breathing in cedar pollen, then you have another think coming.

The thing for you to do is volunteer this Christmas, I can book you solid and write your material for you.

“Have you been a good little girl? Heh, heh, heh.”  What an approach.

And yet when we get right down to it, Santa Claus is the only surviving relic of a time gone by, when we all believed that the better we were, the greater our rewards would be.

Santa Claus never needs to be modernized, Santa Claus needs to be unchanging.  He needs to wear the baggy pants that are always in danger of falling down, he needs the long white beard that is always getting into his mouth, he needs to give out the jolly HO, HO, HO to every fresh faced, smiling child that he holds on his lap.  Of course a bag full of presents goes without saying.

Once in years past I took over for a friend who played Santa every year for a bunch of neighborhood kids and had fallen ill just about the  24th of December.

One of the ladies had rented a Santa Claus costume that would have fit Doc Holliday, if Holliday would have went for such foolishness as dressing up as an overweight Christmas cherub and spitting out Ho, Ho, HO’s to a gang of neighborhood kids.  The costume was put together with rubber bands, no buttons, no zippers, no fasteners of any kind.

I put the costume on and retreated to a bathroom.  Through the halfway opened door I could hear one of the neighborhood ladies telling the children that the happiest people in the world are the ones that didn’t have anything.  That bothered me because I had a whole bag of presents to give out to the children.

I had began to sweat because I had put the costume on too soon, and I had to wait many minutes while the children sang a few carols.  Outside, a blizzard was blowing, but inside the central heat was going full blast.

The Santa mask didn’t fit, one of the eyeholes kept slipping down so all I could see was the bathroom floor and a view of my pseudo Santa  boots.

When the lady chairperson came to summon me, I was trying to hoist the red trousers to a more respectable altitude, and the wide black patent leather belt had become entangled with the flushing mechanism on the commode.  In the excitement of the moment I grabbed the wrong bag and was about to distribute a bag of dirty laundry instead of the presents.

But, like a true champion, I emerged from the bathroom emitting a series of HO, HO, HO’s and have you been a good little boy/girl, when my own personal Wranglers I was wearing under the Santa suit and which I wore for safety sake, let go and split right down the middle.

When this ordeal was over I retreated to the bathroom and clambered from the costume as best and as fast as I could.  I was remembering back to the time when there was only one Santa Claus.  He wasn’t on every street corner as he is today.  He came to Briggs, Oklahoma and we were all glad to see him.  Young and old alike, it made no difference if sometimes he left more than he did at others.  he was the one and only.

And I don’t remember him bouncing around saying HO, HO, HO.  Maybe that was the time when Christmas came out of the Bible, and we all believed.