Sunday, November 16, 2014

What falls away at Christmas: getting the tree

No, I am not suggesting not getting a Christmas tree.  (But if that appeals to you, go for it.  That was also three negatives in one sentence, but I am not changing it.)

But I am suggesting that you don't have to lug all your children in two vehicles to the tree farm in the freezing cold.  It's possible that one kid won't walk, and you'll have to carry him in his thick winter coat and snow pants on top of your sizable bump of an unborn child that's hiding under your thick winter coat.

It's possible you will have to hike a mile to find the perfect tree, walk back and forth between trees yelling out which tree is better, try really hard to stay jolly (because this is supposed to be a fun Christmas activity!) while children start to complain about the cold, and then, somehow, walk back uphill (still holding the toddler) while your husband drags the tree behind him and tries to encourage the oldest to keep walking despite his claims of capabilities to the contrary.

It's possible that you would have to hurriedly squish all the unhappy, cold children back into the car while your husband takes care of buying the tree and throwing it into the back of the truck (hence, the two vehicles).

Cutting down the tree at the tree farm is a cool thing.  No doubt about that.  I like doing it.

However, the decision to do so has not always been prudent for our family.

But I have slugged it out in recent years because I thought I had to do it because...


...I don't why.  I thought I had to in order to make happy Christmas memories for my family?  I think we might have cut the tree down once as a kid.  I'm not really sure.  I don't have loads of sentimental value attached to cutting down the tree.  My dad usually went to go get it.  From wherever.

And guess what, folks?

That's what's happening this year!  The dad of the family is going to get it.  Wherever he wants.

The whole (young) family traipsing out to the tree farm to cut down the tree and bring it home?

It's what's falling away this Christmas.

I welcome your thoughts about how you handle getting the Christmas tree in your house.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twitterature - November 2014

I only read one book this past month, but it was 841 pages long.  It was Stephen King's 11/22/63.  It was $2.99 when I bought it in July for the Kindle, and it is still $2.99 for that format.  I thought it was wise to go ahead and purchase this one because I did not want to lug around such a large book.  Nursing a baby and holding a honker like this book can't mix well.

I was intrigued by the glowing reviews, premise, and $2.99 price tag.  The narrator wasn't very endearing, though he probably wasn't supposed to be; I didn't care for him much until well into the novel.  The book rides on mostly the plot, not deeply realized characters.  That's okay.  It was a good ride, engrossing at the end, but the book took a long time to get where it was going.  I don't know if I'd actually recommend it.  If it were a few hundred pages shorter, it might be easier to recommend.  You might really enjoy it if you are already a Stephen King fan, a JFK assassination theorist, or history buff.  Maybe nostalgia is a positive factor for a lot of readers.  I'm sure that day was a pivotal day for many living during Kennedy's years as president.  Despite the fact that I stuck with the book, I just can't shake this feeling that I could've been reading something else.  #timetravel #JFK

What have you been reading this month?  Did you read this one?  As usual,  I am linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for her Twitterature linkup.  Go check it out for lots of great book recommendations for your list!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What Falls Away at Christmas

I used to get annoyed with people who planned the holidays early.  Planning a Christmas gathering before Halloween?  Oh, my.

Now that I am a little older, I can understand the desire to sort things out earlier than later.  (I still say that doesn't need to be done before Halloween.  And no Christmas gathering talk much before Thanksgiving, unless you are planning some sort of reunion or big trip.)  I have noticed a strong desire to have a plan for the day or weekend lately.  It feels pretty urgent when I do notice it.  It usually comes when we have several things that we need to accomplish and drifting through the day doesn't help get those things done.  Thanksgiving through New Year's Day can feel pretty hectic, and I imagine an advanced plan could be helpful in producing smoother celebrations for families (not to mention all the days in between).

I can also understand why people put up Christmas lights earlier than later.  What if it storms or is super cold the weekend you planned on doing it?  I can imagine it's better to grab hold of a nicer weekend when you can.  (You could wait to turn the lights on though!)

We usually wait to cut down our Christmas tree until the pink week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.  It's an exciting weekend liturgically, and we experience a deepening of joy and anticipation of Christmas.   This has mostly worked well for us, save the year a blizzard chased us back to the house with the tree.  We picked it out in whipping winds wondering why in the world we had our kids out in that weather.  So, if you wait too long, you might not get your tree cut down in time, especially since tree farms typically don't stay open past the 20th or 21st.

The snowman built from the blizzard that chased us home from the tree farm.

I can specifically remember begging people to remind me to make a professional appointment for Christmas pictures next time last Christmas.  It was so hard capturing my boys in a nice pose.  Holy cow!  My camera is not fast enough for them.  I can see why picture-taking gets scheduled in advance.

I can understand why people do a lot of the holiday things they do early.

But do we have to do all of them?  I find it easy to type out here that the answer is no, but living out that no has been harder than I thought it would ever be.

I want to think out loud about some of these things that might fall away at Christmas and what might stay, too.  It's my prayer that I approach the holidays with the right disposition, allow for the cultivation of virtue, and be a good steward of my family's time and money.

I wonder a bit if I overthink Christmas, but for my family's sake, especially for the spiritual formation of my young children, I want to navigate the holiday carefully. That requires some forethought.  (But I do overthink things.)

Think out loud with me.  I welcome your thoughts on planning for the holidays.