Monday, November 19, 2012

Joy to the World

Here we are in November. NOVEMBER! I can't hardly believe how quickly time has flown from the end of the summer until now. I feel like just a few days ago we were dropping Finnley off for her first day of preschool...but, now we, here we are, almost halfway through the school year!

Now I want to time to slow down. Just a bit. I want to savor the joy that this time of year brings with it. There is pretty much nothing that I don't enjoy about the last two months of the year. I don't even mind the cooler temps or the possibility of snow. To me, those prospects just make it seem all the better.

I have so many memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas from when I was growing up as a kid smack dab in the middle of nowhere. They were modest and grand memories all in one. The holidays were all about family, adventure, fun, forced time with the crazier relatives (and there were a few), food, more fun, and more family. It was a good blend of weird and awesome, just as you would expect.

As soon as the turkey was carved on Thanksgiving day, it seemed, the magic of Christmas started exploding everywhere. Well, after the turkey was carved AND the football games were over, that is. (We never missed watching the games. Thanksgiving and football just go hand in hand in our family.) Shortly after our stomachs had recovered from a welcomed practice in gluttony, we were in the car, tromping around in the freezing cold, picking out and then having dad cut our very own far from perfect Christmas tree (laying on his back, usually swearing because the saw was dull, or something else had gone wrong). A Griswold-esque Christmasy sort of family annual adventure. We would drag that freshly cut tree home (usually jammed with us into a conversion van that missing most of its seats in order to accommodate us all with said huge tree), and then we would let the tree sit in the garage to give it a chance to acclimate a bit to warmer temps that it would find in our house. That was always the hardest part...waiting for the tree to "acclimate" once it was home and letting it just sit there until the time when we could decorate it. But, we knew we had to wait because we had been totally convinced that if we brought the tree in without letting it acclimate properly, that the tree would go into complete shock and pretty much lose all of its needles immediately. The possibility of a mostly dead tree stripped of a vast amount of its needles helped us keep our patience.

Once we got to decorate that tree...well, that was just awesome. Our tree was usually quirky, with a strange top, a curvy trunk, or branches that were too close together or too far apart. Putting lights on was never fun, and that is why it was usually a task left to my mom (which is probably why later in life, my mom has resorted to owning a pre-lit Fake-mas-tree). The lights weren't long strands of pretty little white lights. No sir. Not in our family. Our lights were always the dullish primary colored gigantic C7 lights. The kind of lights that could beat up those pretty little white lights in the Christmas light schoolyard. The kind of lights that just screamed "we know how to make a plain and ordinary Christmas tree into a REAL Christmas tree!". Our decorations ranged from carefully picked store bought beauties, to handmade and hand painted plaster kit goodies, to primary school holiday project misfits. And, we didn't just stop there. We loaded that tree with glittery, sparkly, silver tinsel. From TOP to BOTTOM. Every inch of that tree was covered. It was generally the most delightful fire hazard you could ever imagine. I am pretty sure the tacky tree went particularly well with our 1970s brown, cream, and orange marbled carpeting. How could it not? And, what isn't to love about tinsel? Even dog puke and poop are more festive after being digested with tinsel! (trust me...I know that for a fact).
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I remember these things as clear as day. I remember the decorating of the Christmas tree. I remember playing in the snow with a dad who was often more like a kid than us. I remember my mom trying to make me look "pretty" despite my tomboyish-tendencies. I remember on Christmas day my aunt pointing out the Cardinal perched on a branch outside of the window at my grandma's house and telling us all that it was her dead husband, reincarnated (ok...maybe a story for another day). What I don't remember is every gift I have ever received, albeit I know that I always received generous amounts of gifts. (Gifts I wanted and begged for. Gifts I didn't know I wanted until I got them, and then I loved them because who doesn't love a gift? Gifts I maybe really didn't like at all, but I pretended to like them because that is what a good girl should do at Christmas.) So, what I am trying to say is that, in the end, I guess it simply boils down to the fact that the biggest and best gift I ever received WAS in fact THE MEMORIES of those holiday moments with my family. Weirdly awesome memories that are mine all mine forever and ever and ever .

That is what I love about the approaching holidays...the prospect of Matt and I making our own special and unique memories with our small family unit. I want our daughter to breathe in the excitement of it all and get just a little bit wrapped up in the magic of the time. I want her to remember her mom and dad unsafely perched on ladders, crazily wrapping up an outdoor tree in those enormous C9 lights, just for "fun". I want her to remember the yearly trips to the downtown Philadelphia Macy's store to see the spectacular light show and the Dicken's Village, and to sit on Santa's lap and share with him all of her not-so-well-kept-secret Christmas wishes. I want her to look fondly back on the journeys out to find the less than perfect tree that will sit proudly in our home, decorated with our own collection of odds-and-ends Christmas ornaments. I want her to know that she is the reason that our Christmases are so filled with light and magic.

Of course I also really DO want Finnley to be surprised and happy when she opens her gifts after a final night of excited wonder and anticipation, as this is part of the joy of being on the parental end of things. But, I mostly want for her to be instilled with a true appreciation of life and family above all else. I simply want these memories to mean more to her in the end than the fulfillment of her commercial wants. Outside of this gift of memories that we will continue to provide over the course of her life, I want my husband and I to try every day to give yet one more meaningful gift to our daughter. That gift being the promise to aspire to be the people that our daughter believes us to be at this particular moment in time. I want her to know that we deeply love each other, and that we immeasurably love her. I want her to know that we will always put each other, our family, first. I want her to know that we will always listen, be kind and fair, and generally be the good we want to see in the world. We won't always be perfect, but as long as we keep this worthy idea in our hearts and really attempt to put it into action as often as possible...then I think we are doing a good job, in my book.
So, with all of that being said, let's get ready to bring on this most wonderful time of the year. Let the memory making commence! Let joy be with us all, and let us send our joy out into the world!


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