Cut-Your-Own Christmas Trees!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

 Yesterday, we had a gorgeous December morning and we headed about an hour away to Heritage Valley Tree Farm to cut our own tree. I think this might be the first time we've cut our own since we've been married. Certainly since having our kids! It felt like a perfect year to attempt it-- the kids are a great age to listen, to enjoy it, and to even help a little. And we really did luck out on the weather! Originally, we'd planned to go get a tree the day after thanksgiving. But that entire weekend was gloomy, grey, chilly, and WET. this weekend was sunny and beautiful, with only a little chill in the air. We had a blast running around the trees and looking for the perfect one. 

Without further ado, here are the photos from our morning at the tree farm. 1. Hooray for some Big Camera photos! 2. Hooray that my new lens (85mm 1.8) was partly what inspired me to get out the camera to shoot. 3. Hooray for a pretty day and cute cute kids at a cute cute tree farm!

Up ahead this week: I need to start making three kids' tee pees for their Christmas gifts . I need to get dowels or poles for them, too. We want to go see Santa at our Bass Pro tomorrow. I have three sessions I need to edit and deliver to clients. I pick up my parents from the airport as they return from a trip to Hawaii. I want to finish putting up Christmas stuff so I can take my tubs/boxes back downstairs. I have various appointments and random things on my to-do list.... And I need to try not to spend random money just because something is cute or food to-go is more convenient. 

What's up ahead for your week? Happy things? Christmas is starting to sink in over here... Noah even asked if he could hang his old baseball sock on the mantle for Old Mai, so he is feeling the warm fuzzy giving feelings of Christmas, which helps me with my own. ♥  How sweet is that boy? 

So happy new week to you! I'm ready for it!

I'm Trying to Find My Christmas

Friday, December 4, 2015

(cute happy photo: Christmas 2014)

I'm trying to find my Christmas this year. For some reason, it felt really important for me to hold onto November to the very end, more so than usual... and I think that has stunted my early-excitement for this holiday season now. I'm still whittling down my massive workload from November... We're still waiting to get a tree (darn rain last weekend, thwarting our plans to go cut a tree.)... Joe is super busy with his end-of-degree classload, trying to just get to graduation in two weeks. (GRADUATION! With his MASTERS! I am so unbelievably proud of him! In fact, this might need a mime photo right now, from his last graduation:)

And in spite of the Christmas tunes we're listening to now, and the Advent calendar under way, it still feels a little like..... November. But a stripped-away version of it. 

so I'm trying to find my Christmas. My relief Society gave us this amazing little handmade scripture advent this year, and it has been an anchoring piece of my day since December began. It's helping. And when I have a sudden idea about a gift or a thoughtful gesture, I try to immediately go jot it down in my planner, so I can remember I want to do it and actually get it done. I finally remembered to upload all my Christmas music from iTunes into my phone... I think that if I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "The First Noel" a few times, that might open the floodgates more than a little. Definitely Mannheim Steamroller's "O Holy Night" will. 

We are 99% done buying gifts for our kiddos. That's pretty rare and amazing. I am going to make some things, like I almost always do, so I am itching to get started on that... Because sewing and making things always helps that Christmas spirit grow. But every night after the kids are in bed, I think about the clients that still need me to edit their photos, so they can have their own marvelous memories to share this Christmas, and I sigh a little and get back to work on those. Those first- then my own wish list. 

The world feels like it has turned a little crazy this year... Or else I'm finally grown enough for the illusions to have slipped a little and to understand that we're all flailing in the dark, so SURE we're right about so many things, when the person right next to us is flailing in their own dark, SO SURE that THEIR truth is the right truth... and that's been really hard on my soft, optimistic, artist soul. To realize we're all just a bunch of (mostly-well-intentioned) fools and the older we get, the more we fossilize and harden into our own way of thinking. The disillusionment is hurting me. I know that is taking away from the usual joy of the season for me.

I've been re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird this season, a little at a time. It's not one I can just binge-read. I taught it for four years, so there are layers of meaning and beauty in it for me from the multiple readings I've done of it. But this time is the first time I've read  it unabridged. (I did not know I was teaching an abridged version all those times. Can you believe that? I wish someone had told me.) And it's been slower because of it, but also.... it's been more..... raw. To read it as the world goes mad around me. To hear Atticus' voice and ache with his truth, and wish we were all more like Atticus. This morning, in particular, I've been feeling like this... reading and tearing up and wishing and hurting. 

I'm not sure what else to do. First, to find my Christmas, and second, to forgive humankind and keep pushing onward. I'm trying to be still. To listen inwardly. To look outward. I'm trying to protect that fragile part of my soul that threatens to be crushed by it all. I'm thinking fervently of my Savior and what He would have me do. I'm trying to start with Him as I get my kids into the Christmas spirit. I'm pondering things in my heart quite a bit. 

I think it'll come. Even though this season feels different, I trust that the magic and joy of Christmas, both the fun, nostalgic secular part of it and the deeper spiritual part of it, will come together for me, as it always has. And maybe I'm a little grateful that it will be more hard-won this year. It makes it more meaningful in the end, if I have to tune in rather than zone out in order to find it. 

Meanwhile, I am wishing you moments of peace and pondering... Wishing for you to get to hear that one (or two or three) Christmas carol that really does it for your heart. Wishing for you to remember when the universe whispers to you to do some good, so you can follow through. Wishing for you to try not to fossilize and harden as you age, but that you'll be like Jem and Scout and remain open and pure in your view of the world AS IT SHOULD BE. Wishing for you many smiles as you watch your loved ones bask in the magic of Christmas. 

It'd going to be okay. "It's not time to worry yet." All is calm, all is bright. For unto us a Child is born. All is well, all is well. 

(so grateful my kids decided to sleep in just now, because whenever would I have had the time to sit and think and pour out my heart and even be able to come to a conclusion that I feel peaceful about? Thank you, babies.)
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