I love Christmas and just about everything about it. Not just the reason we have Christmas, celebrating the birth of the Christ-Child, but lights, music, trees, giving presents, tv specials, you name it! I even love the look of all that snow on the pine trees outside (although I much prefer to be in doors enjoying the view with a cup of hot cocoa, preferably made with Ghiradelli's dark chocolate mix). When I lived in South Florida and Southern California, I didn't miss living in the cold, snowy weather at all, but something wasn't quite right about see Santa images on water skis, laying on the beach, etc., or seeing all the beautiful Christmas decorations, the nativity scenes, the trees, without snow around...although, if you do go back in history, it is commonly believed that Christ was not born in the winter and that Christmas was put on the Christian calendar to coincide with a pagen holiday, but it isn't my intention to get into the whole history of why Christmas is December 25.....regardless, I am thankful that there is a day set aside to celebrate Jesus' birthday, no matter how commercialized it has become.
"Christmas" started for us this year the week of Thanksgiving. I had Tony drag down the big tree one day before he left to work on the farm, and the kids and I worked on bringing down the many decorations. Now, you have to understand that I am pretty picky about making sure the lights are spread as evenly around the tree as possible (well, not so much in the back where people can't see them), that the bulbs are scattered in a balanced way throughout the tree, that tinsel is strung "just right," and the many ornaments that continue to grow in number each year are put so they can catch the Christmas tree lights and glitter and gleam and shine!
Well, this year I had "helpers." They were good and patient about allowing me to put up the lights all by myself, but the moment I started on the Christmas bulbs, there were two sets of little hands eager to do whatever I'd let them...and even more, if they could get away with it. After the fifth or sixth bulb went up, neither were content any more to just hand me the bulbs (and it was working so well!), they had to put them up by themselves. They were again patient as I hung the tinsel...but then the ornaments came out of their boxes. And the hands once again were out-stretched. Suffice it to say, on our big Christmas tree, there are bulbs hanging in groups of two and three (all very low, of course!), Christmas ornaments hanging dripping off the lower branches (although the more delicate and treasured ones are hung quite high out of reach of little fingers), and...truthfully, it is a beautiful tree.
Since our big tree is upstairs, and we tend to do most of our "living" downstairs in the winter (heating bills and all, given our huge living room and no door to close it off), we have a smaller tree downstairs. This tree tends to be a more fun tree with more of the kid-style ornaments...we have a nativity scene comprising of about eight different ornaments, some Dr. Seuss and Fisher-Price ornaments hanging along side the shepherds and wise men, and the ornaments the kids get each year (an inexpensive ornament of something that reminds me of their personality at the time and a Hallmark collectable ornament, too). There is also a huge, glittery cow ornament compliments of my sister-in-law from a few years back (five points for anyone who can guess which sister-in-law!). This is the tree where we hang candy canes and all kinds of other things that collect at Christmas time...pretty bows and ribbons, package decorations, you name it. Well, needless to say, the kids love both trees.
The day after the first tree went up, we heard the kids when they woke up that morning...."Susanna, let's go see if Christmas is still here." "Okay, Luke, let's go." "Look, look, Christmas IS still here!" Okay, we have been reviewing that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and that we are just making things pretty with decorations to celebrate His birthday... But it's still a delight looking at their faces, seeing their fingers reach out to touch and play with ornaments, the joy and happiness reflected on their faces each time the trees are lit up.
The other night, we watched Rudolf on TV. Well, Tony and the kids did....I slipped upstairs to do some computer work while the kids were occupied elsewhere. I came down half-way through and went into the kitchen only to have Luke come running after me..."Mama, Mama, turn it off! It's scary!" Yep, one of the scenes with the abominable snowman. So as I went in to turn off the TV, he started screaming, "No, no, leave it on!" Yeah, that bad scary guy was gone. A few minutes later, though.... We did make it through the whole show, although I really wish I'd been video taping Susanna's face with her many expressions. The abominable snowman would come on and she'd grimace and snuggle in tighter to Daddy's lap; she'd laugh at some of Rudolf's antics, and towards the end when Yukon Jack fell over the large cliff, tears rolled down her face and she was heart-broken. Of course, within a few minutes, smiles and laughter mingled with the tears and she giggled with happiness when he once again appeared. And when Santa stopped at the Island for Misfit Toys to pick up all the rejected toys, she was delighted.
We have an advent calendar (shoot, we forgot to do it yesterday!) that has little doors to open each day, adding different characters and animals to a manger scene. The kids love alternating...one day one opens a door while the other pulls out the surprise, the next day it's reversed. Today they'll each get to open a door and pull out the surprise....
Christmas music plays during the day and in the kids' room as they fall asleep. Susanna's favorite song is "Jingling bells, jingling bells, jingling bells" which she'll repeat over and over and over. They both love the two songs they'll be singing in the tiny tot Christmas program on December 16, and they both have their lines down quite well...although Susanna still slips and says "We are the shepherds that watched him sleep" rather than "we are the sheep...." After all, who wants to be a sheep when you can be a shepherd? Luke knows his and rattles it off without hesitation "We are the angels that came in great light and brought the good news to the shepherds that night!"
Susanna has started to play again with a stuffed baby doll she received when she was about six months old. She didn't really have a lot of use for it until now, but "Mama's Little Darling," complete with pink dress and blonde hair tied up in a ribbon, is her own "Baby Jesus" and needs to be within eye sight most of the day. Sing "Away in a Manger" and she'll quickly get Baby Jesus to lay on your lap or in your arms.
As much as I love Christmas and all the things that come with celebrating Christ's birth, there is nothing more special that seeing Christmas through the eyes of my little ones. It is refreshing, delightful, and makes me love celebrating Jesus' birthday even more!
Have a wonderful time in this Advent Season. In all the hustle and bustle, don't forget what it's all about.
P.S. Those perfectly stringed lights on both the upstairs and downstairs tree? Well, the first string on both trees died within a week of being put up! How in the world do you replace a string of lights when everything is decorated already? And how can you put a new string up without taking everything down????? Thanks, God, for reminding me that it isn't about how perfect the decorations are!