Now, to tacky it up!

We always decorate to White Christmas.  Thankfully the kids love that movie as much as I do and because it is an incredibly long movie, it lasts the duration of the decorating.  I had a horrible (50th time) realization this Christmas.  I am a control freak.  Truth is, I look forward every year to sipping a hot beverage, listening to Christmas music and nurturing my nest with decorations.  I enjoy changing a few things up from year to year and leaving other things ritualistically the same.  

The kids throw open the Christmas tubs like they are filled with chocolate chips and cheetos.  It makes me nervous.  It makes me...well, let's face it - I think I had to use my inhaler.  The day the tubs came in from the garage this year, the kids jumped up and down with delight.  "Can we decorate now, Daddy?!"  "Sure," was his reply.  I think that is when I started to hyperventilate.  Enter control freak mother.  Can you hear the screeching halt that all the Christmas fun came to?  I knew I was ridiculous even as I was speaking.  And I could hear my children, decades later as we all gather for Christmas talking about me.  "Remember every year when we would get so excited when Dad brought out the Christmas decorations?  And remember how Mom micro-managed our every breath?  That was loads of fun!"  So I tried to back off a little.  And what used to take one day, took about a week and a half...more because of a two year old and an infant, though, not because of my micro-managing...I hope.  In the end the house was warm and lovely and hopefully I won't get such a bad rap in 2033.

 I got a cramp in my fingers cutting out those felt nativity pieces.  I think they kids played with it twice. I still loved looking at it on the wall beside the tree.  Worth it.

 This is one of the great things about Joseph - he is one Emotional kid - but he can go from this (note huge tear under eye)... this in seconds.  I think he was frustrated because his popcorn kept breaking up.

 Is there anything better to do by the tree?

We used to be legit, sorta

Remember the days when we bundled up, packed a snack and pulled the kids in a little sled to find and cut down our Christmas tree?  Granted it was a Christmas tree farm, not the great open wild.  But still.  We used a hand saw and got sappy and drug the thing a quarter mile to the cash register.

They don't have Christmas tree farms here.  Just sheds filled with firs that have been shipped in.  Don't get me wrong, it's better than Home Depot (no offense Home Depot-ers).  There is a bit of nostalgia to it.  There is often Christmas music being piped in from somewhere.  And there is usually a little barn filled with fresh wreaths and garland.  And sometimes there is a free candy cane hand out.

This year we decided to try a new place.  We liked the old "farm."  Honestly, it's been a month - I can't remember why we tried a new place.  But we did and we ended up at the soft grand opening of a cute little nursery that had no Christmas trees.

 But they had lovely poinsettias.
 And a pond
 And a 100 year+ old cabin
 So we bought a poinsettia and headed out to Oma's Dairy and (we ship in our) Christmas Tree Farm.
 And Oma's had...a petting zoo
 And a barn filled with cotton seeds on which to sled (wish we had a picture from further back)
 And a dairy
 And peddle carts on a dirt track
 And pull carts for your baby

 So here in California it's all about the full experience.  I was happy with the sled, the hand saw and the fresh cut tree.  But none of us will deny that we had a great time at Oma's and will probably go back next year.  Our tree, on the other hand, was by far the worst looking tree in McBride history.  Mike and I have a nack for picking out what we feel, every year is the best tree we've ever had.  I just didn't have that drive this year.  I liked the hole-y, scraggly tree we came home with - I think because that is a bit how I have felt this year.  It felt false to come home with a perfectly shaped tree and create a perfect looking holiday scene when the truth was that very day had started with a knock down drag out between Olivia and me over what she was going to wear and "we are going on a family Christmas outing and making memories and might have a photo opportunity and you better get a better attitude because we are going to have fun if IT'S THE LAST THING WE DO!"  Or something like that.  The hole-y tree felt more like us.  And dressed up with our conglomeration of ornaments - made from panty hose and feathers, passed down from grandparents, marking first Christmases alive and first Christmases married (only one of those thankfully) - I loved it until it's death - which unfortunately came before Christmas, but it still stood tall and proud and hole-y, shining it's peaceful lights in our home and reminding us of the Holy that came for our hole-y-ness.

Thanksgiving 2012

When we started this we only had two kids and the Millers were pregnant with their first.  Now there are 6 total.  Henry was...somewhere.