I believe there are two kinds of people in the world: Those that buy their dogs sweaters, and those who do not. I happen to fall in the second category, in case you were wondering. The holidays are right around the corner, and our dog Spencer will not have any gifts under the tree. Don’t feel sorry for him though. Our three cats won’t get anything either.
Today my son Jack asked me, “mom, when are we putting our tree up?” I replied in a highly irritated, sing song tone, “Well, Jack, in case you didn’t know, I’m in Nursing school, and putting up a Christmas tree isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.” Instantly I was sorry for being such a jerk, and tried to explain it in a nicer way. “See honey, the thing is, I’ve worked really hard for 14 weeks, and I only have two weeks to go, before I get a break. When that break comes, I promise the tree will go up, and you guys can help us decorate just like we do every year”. Not surprising, Jack had moved on by the time I finished answering, and was no longer even aware that I was speaking.
My conversation with Jack got me thinking about our Christmas traditions, and I thought it might be fun to share a few of them with you.
The first one, naturally, is to put up a Christmas tree. While we pass out the ornaments, the Christmas music cheerfully plays in the background. The kids fight over who gets to put on certain items, while Billy talks to himself while lying under the tree trying to figure out what light bulb is causing all the lights to be dead. Usually before the tree is done, I have to send one or all the children to their rooms, , to “think about how sad they’ve made baby Jesus” as they fight over the tacky Mickey Mouse ornament that’s missing a foot. Once everyone loves each other again, it’s time for the culminating moment. The final glorious decoration is an angel we place on the top of the tree. Once she is positioned properly, we all gather around and admire the splendor of Christmas. By Dec. 26th, I’m sick of vacuuming fake pine needles and I can’t wait to take her down. The children cry and beg us for a few more days of decorations, so I bribe them with a movie and popcorn, while Billy and I furiously work to get our house back to normal.
Another fun tradition we have around here is reading a book called, “One Wintry Night” by Ruth Graham Bell. We begin the first week of December and try to read a little bit every night, ending climatically right around Christmas eve. Some years we forget to read from about Dec. 2 through Dec 22, so that final reading tends to take up a good chunk of our day. That’s okay though. The story is simple, yet beautiful, as the author takes the reader on a journey from Creation, through key moments in the Old Testament, and ends with the birth of Jesus. Every year as I read this adventure to my kids, I see they are beginning to understand the real reason we celebrate Christmas. They still talk about Santa and toys of course, but hopefully deep down inside their entitled little hearts, we hope they are learning that the gift of Jesus is way better than any Lego set or American Girl could ever be. Also, Billy, you aren’t getting a new TV, so stop asking me about it.
The last few years on Christmas Day, we’ve had company over to eat dinner with our family. I could lie to you and say I was a great cook—that I wake up at the crack of dawn to baste a turkey and remove its giblets. Unfortunately I don’t know what either of those things even mean, I just heard about it one time while setting the store bought rolls on the counter at my mom’s. My main dish always comes from the Honeybaked Ham store, and please know, I’m not proud. However, I do make a few side dishes, and throw in a couple Marie Callendar pies that I get at Kings Soopers for BOGO. Last year I even bought a tablecloth and placemats that match, so the pretty presentation distracts our guests from the gold tinfoil that surrounds the ham. The great thing is that we don’t focus too much on the food part. We mostly just enjoy hanging out, laughing a lot, and reminding our kids to be thankful.
By the way, if your dog is wearing a sweater, I hope you’ll still be my friend.