home for the holidays

decorating Grammy’s tree

Elizabeth had the idea that we cut words out of magazines to describe (either accurately or not)
the gift recipient and tape them to the package. It brought us endless entertainment.  

This is one of AB’s. “Lively” and “unlimited talk.”

Sesame loves looking at photo books so she had the idea to give Christopher one.
Her secretary put one together and her accountant handed over the cash. She took all the credit. 

Baby Ivy isn’t a baby anymore!

The above secretary/accountant took Christopher on an overnight trip to Boston.
We stayed in a lovely old hotel, walked for miles around the city, and visited the prettiest bookstore.

all tree-d up

We purchased our real tree from the store that inspires all Hallmark Christmas movies- Lowes. There was one random, lonely tree sitting out by the grills which is obviously where you would expect to find a tree. It was just the right shape, the perfect ratio of fluff to scraggly, and had the Christmas tree smell. I fell in love. 
Our theme for the year was Noah’s Ark. All the animal ornaments marched/swam/flew two by two around the tree. Our cats also showed up in a pair the minute I pulled out the roll of blue water ribbon. AB hasn’t played with our ark toy in years but I haven’t been able to make myself get rid of it. I pat myself on the back for being so sentimental and unable to get rid of toys because it’s the perfect tree topper. Noah and Mrs. Noah sit onboard and watch the goings on. I recently painted the mantle after no less than six trips to the paint store and trying five paint samples. I may repaint it in a few months but for now, it’s this unexpected hue. I painted the nativity sign with my friend at work last year. We got so frustrated doing it and there was a spot we could not fix even after hours of painting. Neither of us can identify the spot now and I love it so much. It’s on my list of items I’ll grab in a fire.

And so, they all followed the stick of butter until it stopped over the manger. There, they found Joseph and Mary engaged in a heated debate about why they suddenly had two babies instead of the one that Mary had told Joseph about. Did Mary misunderstand the angel’s words and, in her shock, forget about the second baby? Was Joseph too stressed by his sudden fatherhood that he zoned out when Mary told him it would be twins? Did someone lose the first baby Jesus under the couch, buy a new one, and then find the first, resulting in twice the holiness at the nativity? Who’s to say. Rumor has it all the guests at the manger were awkwardly silent except for a loud “Happy birthday” yelled by Pedro the wild-haired donkey on the left. Some people can’t read the room.

the real theme here is how many piles I hid to take these pictures

We got our real tree from the tree mecca featured in all Hallmark movies- Home Depot. It was hanging up like a ham at the butcher and didn’t look like it had much potential, but after several shakes, taps, and sniffs I deemed it worthy of our home. Even after all these years, Christopher does not remember my multi-step tree picking process. “Sure, that one looks good. That one is nice too. Whatever you want. Why are you taping it against the ground? What do you mean, the branches will settle?” AB was running laps around the garden center and would have agreed to a pansy as an appropriate tree.

All the morning shows and the BBC have been on me about announcing the 2022 theme tree. Here it is in all its slightly scraggly glory. It is a book tree. It’s in my top three favorite theme trees. I was going to do only books we had read this year, but that would have required a great deal of effort, so it’s a combination of books we read this year and favorite books. We discussed making a library card topper and AB suggested a topper that said “shhh” but there again, time was not on our side. 

Everyone who was within a 150-mile radius of the stable is represented in our nativity scene. Jesus is the size of a middle schooler. He came out the size of his mother.I made the nativity sign at work and we made the wooden houses last year. I was trying to create a little town of Bethlehem.


Buddy and the bamboo forest

Annabelle wanted to dress up as a spy for trunk or treat this year. She assured me this was vastly different from when she was a detective last year even though her costume was virtually the same. She’s always hated her costumes being misidentified (she still talks about when our 90yo neighbor in NY asked if she was a leopard when she was actually a tiger), so we made a tag clearing showing that she was a spy. Nothing screams secretive and on the DL like letting everyone know you’re a spy. Or was it a mind game? Who’s to say.

Our trunk was decorated as a bamboo forest. Elizabeth gave Sesame a stuffed panda named Buddy for Christmas and he was the inspiration behind the forest. There are a few places near our house that have bamboo patches but I didn’t feel like going to jail for trespassing and bamboo thievery nor did I have the courage to ask the owners of said bamboo if I could have some. I bought 10 pool noodles from the dollar store that I was going to spray paint green and attempt to make stand up straight, but low and behold Christopher got real bamboo from someone at work. We had to cut all the leaves off since they would have been dead and shriveled by the night of trick or treat, so I was going to attach alternate leaves back on the morning off. I did not. You know who doesn’t care if you hot glue leaves to bamboo to make the forest more authentic? Six-year-old Iron Man who can’t see through his mask. Or the inflatable dinosaur who can’t get her arms out of her costume to reach the candy basket. The kids did love the stuffed animals. Several of the children wanted to pet them and talk about their stuffed animals.

Annabelle was not interested in me playing games with her in the church parking lot. “I can handle this on my own, Mom. You can go back to Dad.” I cannot handle you doing it on your own! Where are the songs about Halloween heartbreak? Besides, what if I want to play pumpkin ring toss or fish for rubber ducks? I found a different child to play with. Bradley was happy to be seen with me and she even wanted to join our photo. (Christopher wants it to be clear that I know Bradley and Bradley’s mom. I didn’t steal a random child to play with. He always wants that disclaimer for some reason.)