He is very frugal, which automatically takes a lot of "fun" things off the table (helicopter tours of Seattle, owning a pony, spending a week on a dude ranch learning how to be a cowboy, hanging out in a hotel for a week just because I love hotels). He is also a liberal, which takes even MORE fun things off the table (gun fights, sky-diving with George W., growing a chin-strap beard, Nascar, ATV races, and, in fact, anything that uses any environmental resources at all- we have a three sheet of toilet-paper-per-pee bathroom rule.). And, I' conservative. So at least we will always have fun political debates where we call each other names and accuse each other of trying to ruin the country.
So you can just imagine that our holidays are ton of fun.
First step is usually acquiring a Christmas tree. It's usually cold. There's a lot of walking involved. Then there is the (mostly) friendly annual tree debate (fir or noble). And then we are off to `schlep the kids around a gigantic forest full of weird strangers wielding handsaws. This time Jacob wanted nothing but to run and hide in the trees. Ryan hates anything to do with Christmas (lights, Santa, etc) so I can only imagine that his refusal to nap on the car ride over is due to some philosophically opposition to Christmas trees. He cried and begged to be held the entire trip. These things are exactly why doing things "as a family" makes my husband crabby and twitchy. And then there's me: determined that everyone is going to have fun damnit and make some good family memories.
"Look at all these trees!" I exclaimed. "Isn't this fun!?" As I said that, Ryan was clinging to my body screaming his eyes out and my husband was yelling at Jacob to put down the handsaw or else he would single-handedly cancel Christmas for the next five years which set Jacob into a giant tantrum. At that exact moment, a stranger approached. Seeing the camera slung over my arm, he asked if we would like him to snap a family photo.
"No." My husband immediately snapped.
"Yes please!" I returned.
I always win.
My boys, pretending to have fun. Very good fakers.
Also: go Seahwaks!
Quality Control checking to make sure Dad is doing a good job.
Dad needed a little break.
Somehow, we all survived. With a tree in tow. And all children and fingers accounted for.
As the tree was getting set up in it's stand, my next task was to tackle the Christmas lights, for both the house and the tree. When it comes to Christmas lights....well, it never comes to Christmas lights. At least, not so long as my husband is concerned. In the six years we have been married, I've had to do the Christmas lights every year or go without them. This isn't bad, except for one thing: me. I kind of suck. I'm lazy. I take short cuts. I'm much more inclined to throw away a strand of lights than try to find the culprit-burned-out bulb. In fact, I'm SO lazy that this year I finally bought an outlet timer so that I don't have to go outside and walk the two feet necessary to unplug the lights at night (we can't leave them on all night because....see above about my husband being a frugal liberal).
But still....the lights got done. I only got three splinters in my finger and dropped the f-bomb two times.
When I came inside, it was time for the best part- decorating the tree! I clearly instructed Jacob not to put any ornaments on the three until I got the lights and the ribbon on first. I only had to remind him of this one instruction fifteen times, each time I caught him trying to place a rebellious frosted pinecone into the no-trespassing Area 51 of the un-ribboned and un-lighted tree. One lengthy time out later, and I set him loose to decorate to his heart's content. Ryan is still not a fan of the tree. He thinks the lights are "hot" and screamed in response to each of my attempts to get him to put an ornament on the tree.
By the time the tree was decorated, five ornaments had been broken. Good thing 70% of our ornaments are homemade salt dough forged into pathetic renditions of angel, reindeer, and stocking shapes.
As I hung up the stockings and set up the nativities and Christmas candles, the boys tackled the sacred tradition of "Sweep Up All The Rogue Pine Needles." And we embarked on a nearly month-long journey of trying to share our tiny home with a Christmas tree. Even without a giant Christmas tree in the middle of our living room/entrance/dining room, our 950 sq. ft. house with it's four residents and all of their crap greatly resembles a can of sardines. With the Christmas tree, taking up every precious inch of extra floor space, it's.....um....cozy. Cozy is simply code for "it's so crammed in our house, we have to step outside whenever we need to take in a breath." That may be a slight exaggeration. But not by much.
After 70% of the needles (I gave up on the rest) were swept up, we were finally done (except for the five empty rubbermaid buckets marked "X-mas" which will probably litter the house for the next three weeks, instead of finding their rightful place in the creepy basement). I made some hot coa-coa so that we could sit in the living room and enjoy the results of our hard work.
We leaned back, side-by-side, gripping our mugs and staring happily at the glowing tree, which was in steep competition with the glow eminating from my husband's violent computer game just four feet away. We watched the twinkling lights in short-lived peace, which was only occasionally interrupted by the sound of blood and guts splattering the screen nearby. A smile spread across my face as I finally got to enjoy the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of my young boys.
And then Jacob spilled his hot coa-coa in my lap and began to cry. Ryan screamed repeatedly, "Mess! Mess! Mess! Mess!" My husband looked away from his virtual fist-fight just long enough to yell, "Jacob, clean that up! No more hot chocolate for the rest of your life!"
Ahhhh, the magic of the holidays.