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Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Country Casa Christmas...

TLC is our Christmas Addict. I attribute that to the way she grew up and our determination to always make it a special time of the year for her and our sons. My Sweet Hubby (MSH)—for years and years—subjected himself to pain and stress putting thousands of little white twinkle lights up in the trees in our front yard. For TLC. (The boys? Could have cared less…especially since they sometimes had to help!) MSH would dread, beginning at the first of November!, this job. As it got close to the time to bring down the lights from the attic? He'd be a teensy bit cranky. I didn't really blame him. They’d be tangled. Even though each year he did his best to pack them so that the next year they wouldn’t be the awful, frustrating mess they’d always end up being. Many wouldn’t work. He’d go to the store several times during this 2-to 3-day process. (This is when we lived in town and a trek to Hellmart didn’t take an hour—roundtrip. Like it does now.) He did this for TLC. 

When we moved to the country, 14 ½ years ago, our Christmas Traditions/Routines/Decorating changed significantly. For one thing, there are no more lights outside. TLC was, at the time of our move, a teenager. Very willing to let her Dad off the hook when it came to outside lights. (He does put up at least ten Christmas wreaths—simple green ones with red bows—all over our place. At our gate. Along the road and up the hill to our home. On the wellhouse. Over at the Barn apartment. I love each and every one of the them.) We do put out a few Christmas decos around our front and back porch and in the garden.

Y’all know—the more you put up? The more you have to pack up. We always “undo” Christmas the day after New Year’s Day. As we age (one of us is 70!), we find this job gets harder and harder. I’ve given away a lot of our Christmas decorations in the past ten years. (After checking first with TLC, of course.) For what’s left? I’ve gotten much better about my organization of it all. TLC has inspired me with her OCDness.

Two years ago, I was being slow on getting our tree up. Then Sandy Hook happened. The shock, pain, and grief was simply too overwhelming. I felt sick. And tired. Hopeless. Guilty. I bought a tiny tree and put it on a table in front of our bookshelf. I had a small string of lights and an ornament for each child and adult who lost their life that day. It seemed respectful. Little Leighton (LL) was only about six months old. It was, for me, enough.

This Christmas Day, we’re going to TLC’s home. No other grandkids will be able to come for a visit. They’re too far away. We’re not having a Christmas party. I approached MSH with the idea of putting up our little tree this year. He was appalled. Because LL will be here this week. And a few days after Christmas. He believes it’s important that she see our big tree. That she build her memories of Christmas at Grammy and Pa-Pa’s with excitement and wonder. It is absolutely true: Christmas/Jesus’ Birthday and Santa are beginning to make a little sense to her. So there you go. The “big” tree was up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. 

Every year I do our tree differently! I use most of the same ornaments. Still, it’s never the same. And I usually add a few (very few) new trinkets to it. Sadly it’s not a “real” tree. When TLC was about six years old, I had to insist we get an artificial tree. I’d spent too many Decembers very sick and eventually realized it was caused by allergies to said “real” trees. TLC was heartbroken. Still is. Although she, too, has an artificial tree. For the same reason. It is what it is and, fortunately, artificial trees have come a long, long way, right?

Here, now, are eight pictures I’ve taken around our home. Things we love. Things that help us remember what matters to our family at this most amazing/incredible/special time of the year. Hope you’ll be patient as I share some explanations about each!

This first picture is my new outdoor doormat! It’s from Target! We have four doors that lead to our front, back and/or side porches. Each holiday season I need at least one new doormat, as, after a year or two of Morty the Cat, sun, snow, ice and/or rain, the doormats get cruddy looking.

We always put a little sign like this at the sidewalk one would take to come to our front door from the driveway. This is my third sign in fifteen Country Christmases. Since we live on a (biggish) hill, I’ve especially loved this one.

I don’t do much at the Barn apartment if we’re not expecting company, but I do always put out a “Santa” flag. Hubby puts up a couple of his wreaths (I'm sorry that you can barely see the one he put up over the rocking chair. The light was not great.). Morty the Cat insists on participating when we’re doing things over at his “place.”

I adore our bookshelves in our Great Room. Have since we built our home. I’m quite certain I have them too full of trinkets and treasures. TLC tries to encourage me to keep them a little more “sparse.” Can’t do it. When December comes along, I have fun adding our sweet/oldish/important-to-us ornaments/pictures/tchotchkes on the different shelves. (It also forces me to dust said shelves—something I do NOT enjoy!) On the lower right is a picture of TLC with Santa. She was about to be 6. (Yes. She played “innocent” about Santa for a bit longer than most kids—she’d figured out it wasn’t quite the same if Santa didn’t come to your house.) The little reindeer on the left? His antlers are LL’s hands! TLC made this for us last year. It’ll always be cherished.

This next one is a “Bear” Nutcracker (Clearly a nod to our "Royal" heritage since it looks like a Guard at Buckingham Palace.) and a Santa I’ve had for years and years. If I’ve never shared with y’all my passion for all things “Bear,” now is a good time to confess I LOVE BEARS. I always have. But when TLC was born, MSH started calling her “Sugar Bear.” When she was 9 years old, she told her Daddy he had to stop calling her that nickname. He’d just yelled it out at a Rec Hall basketball game she was in and she became quite mortified—looking up at him, in the stands, with a hugely embarrassed look. As we got in our car to leave, at the conclusion of the game, she said: “Daddy, I don’t want you to call me Sugar Bear any more. I’m too big for that.” MSH thought for a minute, then said: “Okay. What can I call you?” TLC was quiet for a few moments. “Just Bear. Just call me Bear.” Our hearts melted. For so many, many reasons. For the past five years, as we’ve tried to purge ourselves of stuff/junk/unnecessary items stored in every nook and cranny at our home and over at the barn, I’ve forced myself not to purchase any more Bears. I’m not going to lie—it’s a challenge.

Took a picture of our tree the other night. (Buddy Bear is kind of hard to see!) MSH and I are like little kids sometimes, I'll admit. We can’t wait for 5:00 p.m.—when we can turn the lights on! On cloudy days? Yep. One of us plugs ‘em in with glee.

The Three Little Santas. All Hallmark ornaments. All 25-30 years old. Of course, you know from our blog pictures, I love, love, LOVE those silly mustache/Groucho Marx glasses! The middle Santa says: "Kiss the Claus!" That’s for MSH. The Cook at our home. The third Santa is fishing. This is also a “theme” in our home/life. MSH adores fishing. Always has. Always will. These Santas make me smile.

Here’s a closeup of this year’s addition to our tree: Animal print ornaments! Found them at Hobby Lobby. Bought twelve. (MSH hasn’t even noticed yet. He has, though, told me that this year he thinks our tree looks the best it has in a long time. I’m not quite sure how to take that. I decided to take it as the compliment I think he means it to be.) Yes, you’re also seeing last year’s Christmas picture of LL—right by her “handprint” dough ornament TLC made for us. Be still my heart…)

I’m officially in the mood for Christmas!!!

Thank you for your time and patience, Sweet Friends…Hope you had a Marvelous Monday!

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