Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Most Precious Tree of All

Oh, Christmas Tree... Oh, Christmas Tree...  I have a thing for traditions.  They are so important to me.  And the Tree during the holiday season is probably one of the most important for me.  It's a symbol of one of the reasons the holidays are so, so important to me-- family!  For as long as I can remember my family had two important holiday traditions.  #1.  We picked our own real tree.  #2.  Each year we got a new ornament.  I can remember Dad filling a five-gallon bucket and filled it with stones from the drive way to hold up the tree.  Some years they were beautifully round and full, and some years they were a little patchy, but it was our tree.  Ours to care for and decorate.  Mom always made sure we had a new ornament each year to hang on the tree.  When I went through my "Victorian" phase in the early 90s I got tea cup oranaments and fancy shoe ornaments.  When I became a teacher I got an Angel Tree teacher ornament.  The year I brought home my new husband there was an ornament with our picture in it.  Sigh.  It makes me so happy thinking about it. 
Now that I have my own little family I've passed that tradition on as well.  Tomorrow afternoon my entire family (Mom, Dad, my two sisters, two brothers-in-law, two neices, a new baby nephew, my husband, and own precious babies) will head over to Adams County.  Pick out three perfect trees and load them on to the back of my Dad's pick-up and he will deliver them to each house.  Then Ysmaille and I will put lights on the tree and Amirah and I will hang the ornaments.  This year I've decided to only use metallic ornaments.  What? you ask.  What about all your precious ornaments that you've collected over the years?  Those ornaments, those precious pieces of memory-keeping plastic and metal and clay have a place of honor all their own.  Those ornaments go on the ornament tree.  When Ysmaille and I first moved to the States from Haiti we were so very poor.  We really struggled those first several years and couldn't afford and didn't have room for a real tree.  We bought what some might refer to as a "Charlie Brown" tree.  That tree is now home to all my "real-life" ornaments.  And now my two children have their own ornaments-- some handmade, some bought by me, some bought by others who love them as well.  It is full to overflowing and a little crazy.  Last year it got knocked down more than once.  It is a beatiful representation to me of past, present, and future.  Full of memories and hope for the years to come. 
Here's the ornament tree.  Excuse the unsightly wires in the background.  Those will soon be covered.  My decorating is currently in the beginning stages where everything looks a little crazy.
This holiday season may you can continue old traditions and make new ones with the ones you love the most. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Traditions... Is Santa Real?

I've been thinking a lot about Santa and his contribution to Christmas.  Last night I posted on facebook that we've always told our kids that we buy their gifts.  We talk about Santa, we look for him at the end of the parade, but it's certainly not the focus of our Christmas discussions.  It brought a lot of interesting opionions and thougths from friends on facebook and it got me to thinking...  My view on Santa has nothing to do with religion.  I am not opposed to people telling their kids about Santa.  It's just not that important to me.  Neither Ysmaille or myself grew up in a household that "believed" in Santa, so for us it's just not a big deal.  I know that sounds like we are total humbugs.  Let me assure you... we're not!  Here are the traditions that are important to us...  making sandtarts and letting the kids decorate them, picking out our own real Chrismtas tree and cutting it down, putting up our nativity made by Haitian artisans, reading the Christmas story form Luke 2, and spending time with the family we love.  Santa is only on the sidelines of our Christmas celebration. 

With that said, my precious almost-four-year-old has a devout belief in Santa this year.  When I reminded her that Daddy and Mommy buy her gifts she said, "you are tricking me, Mommy.  I know Santa buys my gifts."  So guess what?  We're going to roll with it.  If believing in Santa makes her happy and makes the holidays a little more magical I'm okay with that.  As for me, I'm just looking forward to the look on her face when she sees what we bought her, whether she thinks it's from me or Santa.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Best. Day. Ever

Okay.  It doesn't top my wedding day, or the day my children were born, or even Christmas, but seriously, today was so great.  It filled every part of my soul.  It started out nice and early.  I read a couple pages of Big Stone Gap.  If you haven't read this yet, you should!  My beautiful friend, Crissy, told me about this book and I can see why she reccomended it.  So good.  Anyway, I digress. 
At 7:30 I dropped my children at Mom's.  I went to the I Heart Homemade craft show.  How fun to go to craft show in my hometown that didn't involve snowmen, and primitive stars, and camoflauge.  No offense, if that is your decorating style.  It's definitely not mine and I pretty much loved every booth I visited.  I bought a pair of fun earrings.  Before I picked my kids up I went to Lowe's to get paint for a project I'm hoping to share very soon, and then visited my favorite thrift store.  Do you see how this is shaping up to be such a great day?  By 9:30 my soul was nearly full. 
A string of vintage Christmas bulbs for 50 cents
I worked a little bit on the painting project I mentioned earlier, and then got an urge...
... to go shopping!  Ysmaille and I have been sticking to a very strict budget to pay off debt and I mentioned to him that I have bought NOTHING new in a very long time.  He gave me some money to go shopping.  I made a killing at Kohl's.  For just over 50 dollars I scored two dresses (one with a belt), a pair of shorts and a tank top to match, a pair of coral pants with a matching tank, yoga pants, a t-shirt, a fun yellow bracelet, and a great necklace.  Plus I got $10 Kohls cash to spend next week.  I also bought a great winter coat at Target.  I am not a high maintenance kinda girl.  My nails are often chipped, I only blow dry my hair once a month, and some days I skip makeup.  But I am still a girl.  And buying new clothes made me feel so good!
After getting home from my little shopping excursion the family went to the mall.  Xander got his first real hair cut.  He looks so grown up.  I also got my hair cut.  Total spent for two haircuts and a tip: $32.  I told you I wasn't high maintenance. 
Look at my little boy's hair cut.  He's looking so grown up!
New hair cut
Now we are chilling at home.  I'm wearing my new yoga pants and I'm getting ready to eat a fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie.   Then it's baths for the kids, some book reading, snuggling, and general coziness. 
Ysmaille is going out with some of his friends tonight so after the babies are in bed I'm plannig to finish my book, watch an episode of Downton Abbey, eat yet another chocolate chip cookie, and maybe work on another craft project that's been rolling around in my head today.  My. Heart. Is. Full.  I have felt God's presence in everything I did today.  I know he loves these kinds of days, too.  After all, He's after my heart.  And He has it!
One last picture.... this corner of our kitchen just makes me happy.