Sunday, December 2, 2007

Oh, Christmas Tree

Yesterday, I made the executive decision for my poor, unsuspecting family that we would get into the Christmas spirit and we'd have a good time doing it. My plan was that we attend Christmas-related festivities (ideally involving Santa), purchase a Christmas tree and decorate said tree. I can be really forceful when I want to be (I know, hard to believe, but it's true) and I quickly had everyone on board with this plan. I studied the newspaper for Christmassy activities we could do and found something involving Santa and a barge that was happening within walking distance of us. Supposedly, Santa was going to cruise up Lake Anne and de-barge at Lake Anne Plaza so that kids could hang out with him and do Christmas crafts, etc. I thought that sounded like something we needed to be a part of, so we put on coats and hats and gloves and then set out. Then we realized we forgot Charlie's hat, so we went back and then set out again. And then we realized that it was 30 degrees and windy and we never made it farther than La Madeline's (where there was a warm fire and muffins for the kids).

After La Madeline's it was time for Charlie's nap, so we scrapped the Santa/Barge plans and headed home. We then were very sad to discover that Charlie had no intention of taking a nap. While Charlie howled upstairs in his crib, I decided that it might be a good time to leave Brandon with the kids and get some Christmas shopping done. He thought it might be a good idea to check out our financial situation before I actually spent any money. (What a scrooge, right?) Have you ever tried making a budget while the screams of the non-napping are echoing in your brain? It does not make you want to go out and buy a Christmas tree in the 30 degree weather with two preschoolers, I can tell you that much.

In an effort to detach from the crying and the budget talk I started looking at the millions of catalogs that have made a nice little home on my dining room table. My eyes fell on an ad in the Bed, Bath and Beyond catalog for a fake, pre-lit Christmas tree on sale for $19.99. The ad showed a girl about Emma's age standing next to the tree. She wasn't having to stand on tippy toes or anything to put the star on top of the tree. The tree seemed to call out to me and it was saying, Buy me. I won't shed all over the place. You won't have to water me or spend hours untangling old lights, only to realize that your old lights don't even work because they are old. You won't have to rearrange furniture to accommodate me. I am tiny and cute and I will make your life easier. Plus, I thought, there won't be that super depressing dead tree carcass to come home to when we return from our holiday travels. Right, said the little fake tree. Now go get Charlie up from his nap. That crying is making me crazy. So I went and got a very relieved Charlie up from his nap and announced to the family that the little fake tree was the way to go.

I have to say I love our tiny fake tree. I love how perfectly triangular it is and how you can bend the branches up at the ends like little pipe cleaners so that the ornaments stay on. I love that the lights are perfectly distributed and all I had to do was plug them in. We put only our most treasured ornaments on--a porcelain pink pacifier for Emma's first Christmas, a bear in an exersaucer for Charlie's. There's the dump truck ornament that Charlie keeps taking off the tree to play with and there's the ornament from the place where Brandon and I had our wedding reception. My favorite is a beautiful Brooklyn Bridge ornament that was given to us the Christmas after he proposed to me there. The ornaments fill our 4-foot tree perfectly, like it was made for us. Our life as a family can be summed up on that little tree. I'm so glad we (and by "we" I mean "I") decided to buy it.

Did I mention we also made Christmas cookies and listened to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD? We had to move fast before Charlie ate all the dough. He is a boy after my own heart. Is there anything better than smelling sugar cookies baking while listening to "Christmas Time Is Here?" (You know that really sad jazz song with the words, Christmas time is here, Happiness and cheer, Fun for all, That children call their favorite time of year. The music sounds like the opposite of fun for all--it's like the music knows that the fun is going to end at some point and it's already imagined the sadness after the Christmas tree is taken down and the gifts are unwrapped. The music knows the fun is fleeting and you have to enjoy it while it lasts.) Try and top that, Santa on a barge.

Then I actually whipped out a needle and thread and got all crafty and started making my own cranberry/popcorn garland. Once again we had to work fast, while there was still popcorn. I'm not sure which Christmas activity the kids liked best. If I had to guess, I would say it was putting the red and green sprinkles on the cookies. Or maybe it was the muffins from La Madeline. They had no idea they were supposed to want to see Santa on a barge. They are simple folk who appreciate the little pleasures in life.

So, it turned out that we had a pretty successful Christmas-fest on Saturday. Here I thought I was being crazy to try to cram so much Christmassing into one day, but the funny thing is, I would say the whole Christmas cookie/garland-making/fake-tree-decorating extravaganza happened in the span of about one hour... just in time for a quick bath, two books and bed time. I think everything happened on Saturday exactly the way it was supposed to.


Anonymous said...

Your tree looks awesome and I'm sure Emma and Charlie love it! I think the most important thing to them is the lights, don't you? The kids (and I)have to have the lights!

I always feel like I'm the one insisting that we do the different rituals. I guess everyone knows how much effort it takes, but somebody has to decide it's worth it.


Elizabeth said...

Yes, lights are key! And now I feel like I appreciate the beauty of the lights so much more since I didn't have to wrestle with untangling them and wrapping them around a tree. When Emma saw it again Sunday morning, she said "Mommy, I think it looks kind of like a Christmas tree!" It is totally magical to her and Charlie and that's all I was really hoping for.