Saturday, December 11, 2010

Calm in the Midst of Chaos

This past week has been one of those weeks that makes me dislike the Christmas season, not Christmas itself mind you, but the season.  Why in the world everybody feels the need to schedule something...anything during the busiest month of the year, I have no idea. 
I just gird my loins and just bulldozer through the best I can.

For seven straight days I have been literally on the run and have only slept in my own bed for 2 of those nights.  I have been in 3 states, attended I have no idea how many meetings, spoken to entirely too many people and then returned home to a marathon day of getting 7 classes of final grades into our computer system.  I was only an hour past the final deadline so I guess that's pretty good. 
I always feel guilty for being the last one to turn grades in. 
But, then I get mad bc I feel guilty; it's not like I've been on vacation all week. 

The guilt follows me into my personal life as well.  I made it 30 minutes late to a soccer game last night.  I thought it started at 6:30 and it started at 6:00.  More guilt. 
I could barely keep my eyes open and had to beg off my work responsibilities for Show Choir Dinner Theatre after the soccer game.  Double the guilt.
I will somehow have to redeem myself at the 2nd performance tonight. 
The Head of My Household informed me last night that we will be attending a Christmas Party after Dinner Theatre tonight.  HUH???

January and February are not looking much better unfortunately.  I have a trip planned for the first of the year and realized last night that said trip is the same weekend as the Soccer championships this year.  Geez...when will the guilt end?
Do I not plan the trip in case we go?
Do I plan the trip assuming the team won't make it to the championship game?
And, then what if I plan the trip assuming they won't make it...and they do?
And, what if I cancel the trip assuming they will make it to the championship...and they don't.
No win situation.

I have not had time to read, blog, decorate, bake cookies, etc...all things which make feel better amidst all this madness.  If I can make it through tonight, I hope to be able to remedy that next week.
Unless there's something else I've forgotten about.

The only thing that has kept me going this week is to look at pics like this:

This is my brand new little best buddy (newphew) Greyson.
He was born Dec. 2 and is my only brother's firstborn.  I actually was able to see him before I left on my whirlwind tour this past week.

I don't wish I had a baby...don't anybody panic.
I have daughters so a baby boy is a new experience for me.  I also have other nephews...but this one is different somehow...maybe it's my age...maybe it's my own close relationship with my brother who is 11 years younger than me. 
But, I'm so enjoying be an aunt...I get to look at little boy things in all the stores...pick out books I want him to read...look at his little face and remember his little baby smell :)

This is what life is really all about.
Thank you Little G for keeping me sane :)
For a little while longer anyway ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Virtual Advent Tour - 2010

Welcome to Day 8 on the Virtual Advent Tour!

When I signed up to participate in this Daily Christmas blog event I had no idea what I would post.  I just knew I wanted to participate in something that focused on the genuineness of Christmas and not all the crazy ridiculous stuff that goes on in the mall over the holiday season.
During the few days of rest in between the calm peacefulness of Thanksgiving and the start of the panic attack of Christmas, I actually sometimes get a little down...will I be able to accomplish keeping the true meaning of Christmas in our family's heart this year or will we be engulfed and overwhelmed by the outside world?

During my down time this year, my youngest asked me every 5 minutes about when we would get the Christmas tree down?
"Are you going in the attic today, Mama?"
"Mama, please get the tree"
"The tree, Mama, you PROMISED!"

Finaly the Head of My Household took the extra card table and chairs up to the attic and came back down with the tree...I almost moaned.
Here we go again.
I watched my middle child put the pieces together as she always does.
Then, my firstborn and her boyfriend added the lights.
I began to feel a little bit of the Christmas spirit when they turned off the overhead lights and all that brightened the room was the soft twinkling glow of the tree lights.
Even so, I went to bed, promising my youngest that "Yes, yes, we'll get a box of ornaments down tomorrow...or maybe the next day."

Tomorrow came and so did the first box of youngest had been teased enough...she was NOT going to stand for anymore stalling.
I handed her the box and said,
"Have at it, Sistah"

As she chose certain ornaments from the box my youngest started asking me questions about the ornaments...she wanted to hear the stories...stories she'd heard before...but stories just the same.
Because you see, we don't have a fancy schmancy tree with shiny breakable non-touchable ornaments.
We have a tree that literally is made of little snippets of each of our lives.
Little snippets that are forgotten through most of the year...
and revisited each time we get the ornaments out of the box.

Here are a few examples of those stories told by our Christmas tree each year:

This little bear was one of the first ornaments that my mother-in-law collected for her firstborn, the Head of My Household. She was way ahead of Hallmark so she had to write the dates and each child's name on the ornament herself.

I hang this ornament that belonged to the Head of My Household right next to...

...this ornament that belonged to me

Did you notice that they were both dated 1977?  Our mothers were both collecting ornaments at the same time, never realizing the significance they might have many many years later.

In 1991 we moved to a new city, a new state, and a brand new house.  We were young newlyweds and we went through the process of buying our first home together...our entire lives of opportunity in front of us.  Both of our older daughters were born while we lived in this home.

This is one of the may handcrafted in a classroom little ornaments that we have on our tree...this is one from a teacher who liked to focus on photos...a captured moment in time with most of the work done by the teacher.

and this little bell oranament was actually worked on more by my daughter...I don't like either ornament better than the other but am very glad to have both.

We have quite a few Disney ornaments...but not because they are Disney, but because the character portrayed held some significance for one of our daughters.  Esmeralda here was a favorite of my firstborn.  My firstborn has olive skin like Esmeralda and black fact, my firstborn dressed up as Esmeralda one Halloween and carried her stuffed Djali the goat with firstborn is a very convincing gypsy :)

We have quite a few Winnie the Pooh middle child was a stubby little chubby and stuffed with fluff baby with a soft heart so she quickly took on Pooh like qualities.  As you can see by Pooh's nose and Piglet's missing ear these are well loved ornaments.  I'm noticing now that Pooh's boots may even be a little scratched up.  That's because each of our three daughters has played with the ornaments on the tree.  They each remove their favorites and pretend with them as if they are dolls.  My youngest is the one still in this stage at the moment.

This is an ornament from my childhood tree that was not necessarily mine but was an ornament that I attach vivid Christmas memories to for some reason.  We had more than one of these Santas and each Santa had a Mrs. Clause to go with him.  I wanted them to stand next to each other on our tree.  Over the years we lost one or two of the Santas or Mrs. Santas and I would rather the remaining of the pair stay in the box rather than hang on the tree alone.

When the Head of My Household and I first began dating, his family still attended a large Christmas gathering on Christmas Day at his paternal grandparents' home.  This particular ornament hung on his Grandmother's tree and was given to us with a few other precious reminders of her after she passed away following a long scary battle with Alzheimers Disease.  Grandmother and Grandfather loved each other so much that when she was a danger to herself and had to be placed in a home, he sold everything they had and went with her.  When she didn't like it at the home, he bought it all back.  When she died, he lost all will to live and follwed her to heaven 6 months later.
How's that for true love??

My two older daughters were the only two for quite some time. They are very different and always have been.  I always tried to find Sister ornaments that showed two silly little characters, whether they look the same or different, actually enjoying each other's company.  I  buy one for each daughter, hang them both and hope that one day these ornaments might hang on their own trees.

Ahhhh, Starbucks.  As my girls grow older they join me in a some of my guilty middle child's favorite drink from Starbucks is the Double Chocolate Chip youngest also appreciates this chocolate chip, chocolate, whipped cream and cream delight while my firstborn enjoys the Pumpkin Spice coffee and I crave the Peppermint Mocha...but with only 1/2 pump of peppermint and mocha (not too sweet, please).

And finally the family ornaments...what's interesting in these ornaments is to watch the evolution of our family...from two, to three, then quickly to four, and finally 10 years later to five.  Our animals hold a special place in our memories as well so you'll  see them included in many of our family ornaments.

These stories are what Christmas means to me...the love passed down from generation to generation...that is there for the taking...unconditionally.
I cannot even imagine life without family and memories of times past...what could be better at Christmas than to remind ourselves of all the truly meaningful gifts we've received in the past?