I always feel blindsided by December. It's like I imagine the stretch of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is as agonizingly endless as it was when I was a kid, rather than a mere three-and-a-half weeks.
This season inspires in me the equal and opposite desires of wanting to both hand-make and -bake my way to holiday magic and run away and hide in a cabin in the woods. It's like Martha Stewart and Henry David Thoreau are dueling in my gut. And you know Martha wins.
We started our book Advent (aka Christmas Book Countdown or CBC) on time, although it took a couple of nights of me just wrapping up just the one book (even with remade gift bags and printed tags I couldn't muster the time/energy/after the kids were in bed combo last weekend). I wondered if maybe the boys would be over the CBC this year, since E and Z hardly ever read or ask for picture books anymore, but they've been enthusiastic so far, especially when their favorite Jan Brett books about naughty trolls come up, and M will gamely open the book when it's his turn, although he doesn't stick around to hear it.
St. Nicholas visited us Friday night. He dropped into each boy's shoe a small wooden puzzle and golden walnut (I've been meaning to make Catherine Newman's gilded walnut ornaments for like ever, and finally got the supplies together last week and made them Thursday night while watching "Upstairs Downstairs." That's how wild and crazy C and I are...while the rest of the world is obsessed with "Breaking Bad" and "Orange is the New Black"--or whatever the rest of the world is obsessed with these days--we're getting Netflix DVDs of a low-budget show made when we were babies. But it is really good, I swear). I love stocking stuffers more than anything, and like the idea of spreading them out to other holidays before (St. Nicholas's Day) and after (Three Kings Day) Christmas, since the stockings get kind of passed over in the gift-stravaganza of Christmas morning.
Saturday was rainy/sleety and we spent the day inside, cleaning in preparation for the tree (can I tell you how great the kids helping me clean is working out? E and I pulled out and vacuumed behind all the living room furniture a couple of weeks ago, so when we moved things around to make room for the tree, there was hardly anything we needed to do. It also makes it possible for me to do cleaning I never had time for before--like dusting, sorting through piles, tidying my own things--while they're picking up and vacuuming). I also made apple cider caramels and cookie dough (I never got the cookies made, but there's always next weekend), and ordered Christmas cards. And we watched The Muppets Christmas Carol--my favorite.
Sunday afternoon, after some more housework and homework (E and Z were assigned a project this month, ai-yai-yai!), and after the sleet had melted off the woods, we went out in search of our perfect tree.
We've had three or four nor'easters already this fall (and another one coming tomorrow!), which have been hard on the fir trees; they break in half or fall over in the high winds of such a storm. We had such good luck with a storm-toppled tree top a few years ago--the branches and needles are much denser than in a younger, smaller tree--that we decided to take advantage of the storms' destruction and look for a downed tree.
We found a fine specimen hanging upside down (like the original Christmas trees) from the branches of another tree. Its parent that had sprouted three leaders, so our Christmas tree has three trunks and a kind of crazy, bushy top.
I couldn't decide which of the many tips to put my fluted glass tree-topper on, and it's a good thing I didn't (and also a good thing that I ran out of time before I put on the last box of ornaments--the breakable ones) because the tree fell over today. It seems the multiple trunks were a bit more than the stand could handle. C has since strung it to the window frame with fishing line, so it should be okay, but still, I might hold off on the glass ornaments until I'm sure it will stand.