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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

holiday season, redefined

I officially don't like having a late Thanksgiving and, consequently, an abbreviated holiday season.  For starters, I feel jipped a week.  Also, all the same things need to happen, just in less time.

Not to mention that if you are going to haul out all the decorations and place a live evergreen in your living room, you want that to remain for long enough to feel worth it.  

The flurry of excitement and time spent celebrating graduation made Christmas sort of feel like it snuck up on us.  The kids are counting it down and we are saying, "WHAT?! Only 8 more days?"  It was a sad day when we realized our Shutterfly window had closed and we would have to pay $25 to rush an order and $20 to expedite the shipping.  Somehow this year we are those slackers that big businesses hope to use to widen their profit margins.  Except that, on principle, we refuse to do it.  If we missed it, we missed it.  We will come up with a different plan and get down on our knees and thank Amazon Prime for 2 day free shipping.

In the spirit of trying not to do it all, I took a family poll in the car a couple of weeks ago: "Who cares if the candles don't go up in the windows this year?"  No one raised a hand.  Or at least no one dared to out of fear that if they cared they would be assigned this tedious task.  

We have, and I am not exaggerating, 28 windows in our house.  Over the years, and the annoyance of turning the candles on and off each night, I have invested in timers when they are deeply discounted at after Christmas sales.  With the aid of extension cords and a great deal of tape and patience, I get the candles all placed and (mostly) orchestrated to go on and off in unison.  It is a big job but the house looks so pretty with each window aglow.  Plus, the work is really only in putting them up and taking them down now that I have timers. 

I gave myself permission not to do it.  I could live with not doing it I told myself.  Then the cold and darkness descended and the Christmas music started to infiltrate and before I knew it I was up to the task.  Sandi said, "I thought you were skipping it this year.  Did you decide you couldn't?"

No, I decided I could skip it but that I didn't want to.  This, my friends, is what they call progress. I did it out of desire, not obligation.  There is hope yet.

Let me tell you, the house looks so cozy and inviting at night and I am so glad I did it.

We also had fun making our annual trek to Piper Mountain to get our Christmas tree.  It is one of our longest standing Christmas traditions and one we all look forward to.  The kids get to pick out whatever ornament they want and it is theirs to keep.  I love seeing how their preferences change over time.  

Plus, who doesn't love a horse-drawn hay ride and choosing and cutting down your very own Christmas tree?  

We did something new this year that brought such contentment and happiness to our family we will now do it every year.  We took our time with the trip to get the tree and then we put it in a bucket in the basement and decorated it the next morning in our PJ's.  No one was tired (okay, Sandi and I were since we had been up late at a Christmas party) or cranky.  No one cried or complained and there was coffee to drink.  The girls took their time clumping the ornaments in odd ways all over the beautiful tree which Sandi and I evened out as soon as their backs were turned.

Most importantly, though, there was energy left to play reindeer.  Who knew a beanbag could have so many uses?

I am working, with about a 60% success rate, at chilling out, enjoying instead of running like a crazy person and making time for the things that really matter.  Here's to hoping for some chill and enjoyment for all of you!

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