As I was making a list of everything I had yet to do, buy for, mail, make, send, be, the urgency started to overwhelm me and I got a little frantic. J, in all his wisdom, said "Don't let it get you so overwhelmed, it's just Christmas!" To which, I cackled maniacly and responded with a snarky, 'You're right, honey. Christmas has no significance for anyone in our culture. It hasn't become a crazy commercialized holiday with stress and anxiety attached. There aren't more mental health crises over this season. WHAT was I thinking getting worked up about it?!'
This year, we're doing a simple Christmas in many ways, but also more than some years in others. For the first time we have a live tree. Of course, because of our fantastic planning, I spent the time that J had available to accompany me on said tree-finding mission purchasing all the accoutrements...you know, like a tree stand? I was actually proud of myself that I went to Christmas Tree Shops and bought the tree stand tray, a tree skirt, lights and ribbon before coming home with a huge tree.
That left me in the parking lot of the Episcopal church with both kids at 6:30 the other night because I'd promised Henry that that was the day we'd get a tree. As I'd gone to Alex's house earlier to help her swap out her tree stand for one that would accomodate her tree's trunk, she volunteered to come help me with mine. I did not, thankfully, have delusions that I'd be able to hold the tree and screw it in solo.
After hefting the tree from the top of my car, I carried it up the flight of stairs and into my living room. It was a surprisingly effortless ordeal, and before you know it, I was vaccuuming up the first of many, many needles before putting Charlie to bed. H got to stay up with me, and we decorated the tree together.
Earlier in the day, we'd made our own star; he requested silver, so we used embossing ink and powder, some swirly stamps and, of course, sparkly brads. A little free-hand cut and voila! A star is born.
I'm glad I only put the tree up just shy of a week before Christmas because I'm already tired of 'Don't! Touch! The! Tree!'
While I was at the beloved Christmas Tree Shops (a store I live less than a half-mile from, but had not entered the entire time I lived here until the last couple of months...which is full of everything you never knew you didn't need but couldn't live without. Bath and Body-works knock-off hand-soap...for a dollar?! I'll take seven!) I also picked up some shiny ball ornaments and a little holiday kitch. I stole the brilliant idea of my sister-in-law to fill regular drinking glasses with the shiny balls and put them on my sconces instead of candles, then filled a clear vase with them and put them by the entertainment center. I then strung a gauzy ribbon across one wall garland-style so that I could tack up our Christmas cards* as we received them.
When we were all done wrapping the tree in a tulle ribbon and lights, I brought down the two boxes of candy canes (I decided to forego ornaments this year in light of my children's grabby hands) and he was so excited to arrange them in one giant cluster, which I anally re-arranged after he'd gone to bed. When we were all done he said 'Now, when people come over, they're going to see that our house is all decorated! They're gonna love our decorations!' It wasn't until then that I realized how important it was to take the time to get in the holiday spirit. I look around every night at our lit tree and the shiny ornaments and for a moment, I don't care how much I have to get done before the big day...and then the moment's gone.
*I love getting Christmas cards and reading Christmas letters and was a little disappointed this year as we've not received very many and then I remembered that mine are sitting in a box on my counter waiting to be addressed during Charlie's nap today...