Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

A coincidence that the newest Yankee Candle fragrance which is,"a merry symphony of cedar, bergamot, fir needles, and musk," is called Deck the Halls?  I think not!  Last year we didn't do much decorating for Christmas.  I was pregnant and Zach was deploying the day after Christmas and I didn't want to have to ask people for help to put Christmas decorations away, so we opted to keep it simple and basic.  Well, not this year!  This year we decided to cut our own tree.  We also decided we wanted to take advantage of the high ceilings in our house for our last Christmas here and get a really tall tree.  We wanted to have a Christmas feast and share it with family and friends.  Done, done, and on it's way to being done!

Pleased with our tree selection, and Asher with
the tree he chose for his stuffed lion
We had to cut the Christmas tree on Friday, December 2, get it up and the lights on that night/early morning since Zach was leaving for a trip on December 3 at 6 in the morning.  All six of us ventured out (in two vehicles: one for tree hauling-Zach's truck and one for kid hauling: my Suburban) to cut our 13 foot tree, that is so large it required a worker at the Christmas tree farm to use a chainsaw to cut it down.  What an adventure!  The kids enjoyed every second of it and I taught Frankie the song "O Christmas Tree," which she still sings in her "Frankie babble" while standing in front of the tree swaying back and forth, as we waited for them to return with the chainsaw.  Once cut, they hauled it to the barn where they shook out the loose needles and wrapped it with netting for "easier" transport.  Once home, Zach began the process of putting it in the stand and then carrying it (without any help) on his back into the house where we cut off the netting and set to putting the lights on it.  Amid dinner, bath time and getting four kiddos in bed, it was late when he and I finally got the lights on it.  Zach, always the over-achiever, handmade a gigantic wreath with the boughs he had cut off to fit it in the stand.  Our living room floor was covered in branches and pine needles as he fashioned our (approximately 5 foot in diameter) wreath.  Once it was finished, it was about 1 in the morning.  But we still needed to hang the wreath.  Not having an extension ladder and at the early hour it was, we didn't think our neighbor would mind if we quickly "borrowed" his ladder (which conveniently hangs on the back of his shed) without asking.  As I held the ladder to prevent it from slipping, Zach hauled the wreath 2 stories up to hang it from the front of our entrance.  This all sounds much easier and less stressful than it was.  It was late, therefore very cold and the ladder (circa 1970) has no rubber "feet" to help hold it in place.  Suffice it to say I pretty much held my breath and prayed while leaning with all of my might on the ladder (metal on frost-covered slate = not an ideal combination) as Zach proceeded up and down a few times to get it "just right." We finished the wreath handing about 3 a.m.  Zach packed and the car arrived at 6 to take him to the airport.  He spent the next two weeks in Hawaii, where I joined him for the last 10 days.  We had a delightfully relaxing time together in celebration of our wedding anniversary.
Whoa!  That's a tree!

Ensuring the tree of choice had a straight trunk, and
realizing the bow saw wasn't going to cut it, literally

Making the infamous wreath

We arrived home on December 18 and had one week to finalize all things Christmas.  The kids and I had finished decorating the tree and the house the first few days of Zach's trip, so that was completed.  Our Christmas cards arrived while I was gone, so I had to address those and get them in the mail.  I also had to wrap and ship gifts to our many friends and family that live so many miles away.  It is now Christmas Eve, Zach and my actual anniversary.  The turkey is roasting, desserts are made, and we are preparing to partake in a Christmas Eve feast with Grandma and Grandad who are still here from Michigan (having come to watch the children during our Hawaiian vacation and stay on through Christmas) and our friends, the Lares, who have recently moved to our area.  Tonight we will be busy elves as we put together and wrap Santa's gifts for the kids.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
I simply LOVE this time of year!  Yes, it is busy with all of the activities, gatherings, and parties.  Yes, it can be stressful with all of the preparations that "need" to be done.  But it is such a joyous, magical time!  The kids are great ages, truly in awe of the magic of Christmas, and their enthusiasm is contagious! Each year Christmas is a little different depending on our location and situation at the time,  sometimes we cut a tree; sometimes we don't.  Sometimes we host family; sometimes we don't.  Sometimes Zach is here; sometimes he isn't.  But we are also beginning to build a repertoire of our own family traditions, and that is really fun: red velvet pancakes on Christmas morning, making a wreath whenever we do cut a real tree, sending Christmas cards, and many more to come I'm sure. Amongst our personal ebb and flow there is one constant: Jesus is the "Reason for the Season!" He is loving and faithful! It is easy to get distracted with all of the commercial emphasis, but we make our best effort to stress the true meaning of Christmas to our kids.  It is a time of giving and love: God to us and us to others.  

This time of year, I always find myself with a reflective mind and thankful heart.  Our family is awesome, in my humble opinion :), and just seems to get better as the number of our kids increases. Although it has been exciting to build a family, it is also exciting to know that "Team Hall" is complete and we can work to develop relationships amongst all of the existing team members. :)  Zach and I become closer and understand more each year how vitally important it is for us to provide a firm foundation for these amazing kids of ours.  Our "old" friends continue to be cherished and close to our hearts, and as "new" friends are gained, we are thrilled and thankful to know that they will become "old" friends over the years to come!  We are so blessed to know the amazing people that we are honored to call friends and truly lucky to have the families that we do!
From our home to yours, wherever that may be, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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