Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's that time of year again...

In our little family, the first weekend after Halloween is Tree Raising Weekend!

I'm not much for the commercial celebration of Christmas, but I sure love the feeling I get, surrounded by soft lights and greenery and... plaid tree skilts.

(Did I just coin a new word??)

I didn't used to feel that way. I used to dread the winter holidays. Some of my more dominant memories were always of people bickering and fighting about having too many or not enough ornaments on the tree and lots of hustle and bustle and parties where I had to behave properly (or, better yet, not be seen).

When I was still dating my wife, the topic came up as we were decorating her mom's Christmas tree.  Or, rather, as THEY were decorating the tree and I was sitting in the other room not having a terribly good time. That day I realized something - that I had to make my own positive Christmas memories, that I've changed a lot over the years and it doesn't have to be a holiday I hate!

So, the year we moved into our new house, we decided to start a new tradition and get into the holiday season a little earlier than most.  We always make a small party of it - invite a few close friends over to a good meal, good beer, Christmas music (this year's first album was Rob Crabtree's A Piper Christmas, which is a repeat from last year... it's a great album!) and then we went to something a little more hands-off, using Pandora to (mostly) play a good variety of holiday tunes.  (I say "mostly" because Pandora and I have been known to fight about what is deemed "good" music.)

We've minimized the dangers to Finley a bit by only using non-breakable ornaments. We try to stick to wooden ones, when we can find them, but also use cloth, pressed tin, and pine cone ornaments, as well.  He seems to be drawn to the simple ones, like little sleigh bells on a cord. He certainly had a blast last night.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tree stays up all season without any major mishaps...

While the tree is the main decoration, it isn't the first. The first decoration I always put up is a lighted wreath out on the front porch.  I love seeing how long it takes my neighbor across the street to get a wreath up on his front door, too. I imagine the discussion with his wife to be something like, "Well THEY already have decorations up... why don't we??" "Alright, I'll get started on them this weekend... *mumble mumble* damned neighbor and his Christmas spirit *mumble mumble*"

(It's usually about two weeks.)

As per her usual, Baby Teeters took position under the tree before we even had it totally put together.  This time of the year, if the tree lights are on, you will find her sleeping under it.  She does look lovely under there, I must say.  She tends to leave the presents alone, as long as I leave a spot for her to sleep, but I have had to re-wrap a few over the years.

Let me be the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!  I hope the season brings you the same kind of joy I get from it.

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