The Eve

The kids are pretty dang fired up. The lights are lit. Cookies are on the table. The big man comes tonight. Tomorrow we will have a fine family celebration. Thankfully we have that. I’m pretty excited myself. Hurrah and all that. Hurrah for Christmas.

Table Set for Christmas Eve at Bed Time

Note in the photo:

  1. Christmas tree cookie jar–NOT filled with cookies for Santa
  2. Cookies for Santa–sugar cookies with “stained glass” melted Life Saver centers
  3. Mandatory milk to accompany cookies
  4. Plastic angel with working (!) candle from 30+ years ago.
  5. Lists for Santa
  6. Egg carton filled with sparkly art project for Saint Nick to admire

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Ah, December

It is finally cold. Waiting for the bus is a chilly experience. The puddles are skimmed with ice. The wind bites. I wear my orange knit hat out and about. The woodstove radiates.

Holiday music plays everywhere. Too much of it is twangy countrified versions of holiday classics.  Who needs that crap? I guess lots of people like it, however.  Who am I to judge poor taste?

Snow flurries keep spitting. One of these days we will get a full on storm with real snow. Ideally this happens before teh 25th. We celebrate that winter holiday in this house. And the solstice.  I have been rising early to run still. These days it is pretty dang dark when I do so. Porch lights are on and my headlamp gets as much a workout as I do. I might have to have a big old party to celebrate the solstice this year.

I have these slip-on boots from L.L. Bean that I wear in the winter pretty much every day. One of them has a big old tear in it.  I should have sent them back this summer but who remembers winter boots in the summer? I still should send them back. I bet they would replace them. They did rip unexpectedly. It’s not like a was jumping over a barbed wire fence or something. I noticed it walking down our driveway. Not a high impact activity. What will I do without my boots? I have missed them lately.

The year has just about wrapped up. I might start thinking about resolutions so I am prepared when January hits. Blog every day? Run a marathon? Read some book I have wanted to read? I’ll think about that later. I want to think about doing good deeds this month, and giving gifts to those I love, and baking desserts. Chocolate covered lemon cake anyone?

Now that would be the way to celebrate the season, baby.

Another Christmas Tree

Weekend after Thanksgiving–time to get a Christmas tree. Maybe it seems early to some, but we figure we might as well celebrate the season as long as we can. We went to Martel’s tree farm in Williston and cut a fine fir. It is worth visiting that tree farm just to get the view. It was a beautiful day so we saw snow on Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump and a long stretch of the Green Mountains. Lake Iroquois rippled in the breeze down the hill. And the smell of cut fir drifted over it all. We tied it to the car and hauled it over the town line.

We had to do some trimming to get it the right size. It was just a little too tall but we managed to make it work just right. The kids took a critical hand in trimming it so the bottom third is heavier with ornaments than the top two thirds. We strung lights–pink and blue and white and decked our humble halls with other delights, some made on the spot by the children who live here. They had a fine time of it. We hauled out the box of holiday CD’s and found the holiday tracks on Pandora internet radio and we made the transition to December with only a few bumps. Here is the before and after:

 

Fresh From the Hill

Decked Out for the Holidays

 

 

Christmas Tree Still Up

January 9.  The Christmas tree is still standing.  Decorated no less.  That’s 42 days it has been indoors.  Dead no less.  It will come down this weekend, tomorrow or the next day.  So it will get at least 43 days of glory, dressed in the best we could offer–shiny glass and steel and plastic.  But it will be a fire hazard soon, if it ever wasn’t one.

Now we will have a little more space in the house.  And we will use a little less electricity.  But it has been nice to have around.  Maybe we can put something else in its place.  A basket of fruit?  A cardboard cutout of Chewbacca?  A bean bag chair?  Maybe a pile of attractive rocks?

Nah.  Let’s just get this thing out of here.  Come spring it will fertilize the blueberries.  No need to waste a perfectly good untrimmed Christmas tree, no?

Second Christmas

We just came back from a trip down south, to Connecticut.  I grew up there and my parents and some siblings and other relatives live there, so we visited for our second Christmas.  Every year my parents host Christmas the weekend after the “real” Christmas.  This has several benefits:

1. Those of us with various family wings can worry less about the conflict of who to see.  In our house we have decided that Christmas Day we do not travel.  We stay at home, share gifts, have a fine dinner and play.  We do not, however, have to worry about a long drive, so Christmas Eve we can see my in-laws.

2. Those of us who work where there are no true holidays (my mother and brother work for a nursing home) can offer to work so someone else can take the day off.  This feels pretty good and is a great gift.

3. We can do things for others.  My sister, for example, volunteered at a homeless shelter on Christmas.

4. If we have procrastinated, and we have enough of a buffer, we can get some steals on post-holiday sales.

I admit that I have not taken advantage of this last one, but still, it could happen.

We had a good long day for our second Christmas.  It felt like a major bonus for our children who got more gifts from Santa and all their various relatives on my side of the family.  We ate together and laughed and had a generally grand time.  Three of my four siblings were there (the other lives on the west coast) so it was a full house.

But wait, there’s more.  On Sunday we made another full day of it.  We took the children to the museums in Springfield, Massachusetts, just over the state line.  Somehow we managed to hit it right and got to wander the science museum just before a puppet show began.  It was put on by a traveling performance group and was targeted at children.  It was a hit.  We had time to check out the Dr. Seuss sculptures (he was born and lived in Springfield) one more time before heading home.

We had some time before heading out to Friendly’s for dinner.  This was a treat for the children, really.  They got to eat french fries AND ice cream sundaes.  What could be better?  It was actually the same establishment where I had my first paycheck job (I had paper routes before that), flipping burgers and manning the frialator.  Ah, the times I remembered.

Then, the finale to the day, we went to the Connecticut Trolley Museum for their winter fest event.  The place was decked out in holiday lights, including lights across all the power poles on the trolley lines.  Four trolleys ran the out and back route, under the lights.  It looked like a tunnel of color in the darkness.  When they switched the power pole on top of the trolley to go from one direction to the other, we were all in the dark.  No one working said anything about this, at least not right away, so everyone was quiet.  It was peaceful, fitting for the season.

My son was a huge fan of the exhibit hall, where two trolleys are indoors and a dozen or so electric train and trolley sets zoom in their loops.  There were trains of all sizes and they were dressed in holiday garb.  One train looped through Santa’s village with elves and snow and workshops and all.  Sure, I was pretty into it as well.  And it was festive.  A woman with a guitar sang carols, lights decked the hall, and several Christmas trees glowed in the corners.  There were kids all about and everyone seemed to be having a blast.

Back home today, after a long drive, we have to settle into post-Christmas.  We have some things to put away, some things to assemble, and some things to recycle.  We have a task list for the rest of our holiday break, and some good friends on the way in a couple of days.  Lots to do, lots to enjoy, lots to think about.  Both Christmases were as good as they get.  And two is enough.

Santa in the House

Evidence of the Fat Man's Presence

Evidence of the Fat Man's Presence

We had a classic Christmas here at our house. Our children were pumped up on treats and gifts. As it should be. Santa came in the night and did his thing. We all benefited from his visit.

The parents were awake (5:30) before the youngsters (6:00 for one, 7:00 for the other) and we got started early. Snow showers fell during the critical morning hours to lend to the air of Christmas, but it was warm enough for some icy outdoor play after lunch. In the afternoon, both my wife and I even managed to fit in a run on this not quite frozen day.

The kids opened gifts all morning. We tried to keep it going slowly. We did not stick to the one-at-a-time everyone-goes-in-turn method employed when I grew up. We will do that in time, but it just feels wrong to keep small children from enjoying the thrill of unwrapping.

By request, we had pizza for lunch. We had out usual dinner of mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, peas and roasted maple butternut squash. That went down just fine. I realized that I did not have any candy until I had a half dozen M&M’s as I was making dinner. I did, however, have a vanilla Coke.

My daughter was so tuckered from going to bed late, rising early, and playing hard all day, that she was asleep by about 5:30. Her brother followed about an hour later. They couldn’t have had a better time. They don’t usually squabble, but had nary a disagreement all day.

Maybe we need to do this every day.