Tuesday, December 20, 2005

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

(I apologize for the long-windedness of this post! I realize you all have better things to do right now than read my drivel, but as consolation, there's some knitting involved and I promise not to post again till after Christmas, so please bear with me! :-)

At t minus 4 days, it's beginning to look, smell and feel an awful lot like Christmas! As a child, I never quite realized how much work my parents put into making the Christmas season so magical and memorable for us. Full circle now as a mom, I take my hat off to my parents for managing to create the magic year after year without getting divorced in the process. As a kid, the only time separation seemed really plausible was during the setting up off the tree. My brother and sisters and I dreaded Tree Day. It was almost as bad as Window Washing Day, but usually with more profanity and threatening. Tree Day (which, you will notice, rhymes quite well with D-Day) always began with the proverbial noble vs. douglas fir debate and embroiled with the 6 foot vs. 7 foot debate. Apparently, year after year, nobody could remember whether our ceiling was 7 or 8 feet high, thus sparking the annual "How Tall?" debate. (Now you know where I get my tendency to "forget" to write down my little "pattern modifications.") This would result in my mom being royally pissed off before we'd even loaded up into our wood-paneled brown station wagon from the tree lot. Loading the tree up was an even riskier proposition, since my mom is a compulsive neat-freak. The nature of her disorder truly warrants capitalization- Neat Freak, Extraordinaire. Pine needles found anywhere other than the branches of the tree were grounds for decapitation in our house. Imagine my mom turning holly-berry red as the needles had the audacity to break off the tree, toying with her tenuous grip on sanity. It was not pretty. Neither was the garbage-bag lined demented "red-carpet" from our front door into our living room, that we so carefully tread, tree-in-arm, so as not to jostle any needles loose. Don't even get me started with the whole screwing-in-the-base -of -the- tree- while-ensuring- the -tree- is- perfectly- straight bit. By this point, my dad was undoubtedly calclulating alimony payments in his head while we progeny joyfully flocked to decorate the tree. In our hearts and our minds, this truly was the most joyful time of the year, as we reminisced about the history of each of the ornaments, remembering Christmasses of yesteryear. Of course, actually placing the ornaments on the tree was an entirely different deal courtesy of maternal OCD, but somehow I've repressed that part of the memory. As I grew older, I began to see the whole probable-grounds-for-divorce bit, but as a child, everything about Christmas was magical.

Fast forward several decades...determined to avoid the trauma of my youth, I really tried not to flip-out during Tree Day on Dec. 1st (Yes, I realize I've been very remiss about blogging!). I actually did quite well. No irreconcilable differences or anything. No debates, either. Slam, bam, 7-foot douglas fir, thank you, ma'am. I even managed to bite my tongue (hard) when Bossy and Stinky placed THREE of the same colored Macy's balls on the SAME branch. Aside from a bit of bleeding in my mouth, all went well. I'd even venture to say there was a bit of Christmas magic in the air...

I even managed to hold my tongue (albeit in a contortionist pose) as I watched Bossy and Stinky place all the candies and gum drops in one big glob on our gingerbread house. I think I even managed a smile as they tested whether the icing really kept the walls glued together. Just testing the laws of physics, right, smile, smile? I kept grinning as Stinky repeatedly dropped and retrieved candies from the floor and deposited them surreptitiously into her mouth. I vividly remember all those silver candy balls that never made it onto my mom's snowman cookies, having met a similar demise. Girlfriend, I invented that trick! Christmas magic is definitely tricky...

I gritted my teeth as I worked on my sister, Fredo's tote bag. Let me tell you, trying to figure out intarsia-isle (my own freaky mix of colorwork) for the first time while frantically trying to finish gifts SUCKS EGGS! My only consolation is hoping that my sister, the Hello Kitty fanatic, will like her bag. I used the Microrevolt Knitpro site to chart a graphic I downloaded off the Internet. I've got most of the front and back done, with just a gusset to go. I'd hoped to have the tote done and lined in time for Holiday Countdown KAL day today, but now I'm just hoping to have it seamed by Christmas Eve. Christmas magic is believing...

I've kept a smile through the umpteenth replay of "The Christmas Gift of Aloha," a local show put on at the mall that Bossy and Stinky are obsessed with. Smiled while paying the exorbitant fee for the 5 minute (!) Candy Cane Train ride around the mall... that was worth every penny to see the exurberant smile on Bossy's face. Christmas magic is special...

Smiled while being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Reality, who announced that ain't no way all that knitting, baking, wrapping and shopping gonna get done in t minus 4 days and counting, especially with Bossy's birthday on the 16th and a belated party on the 23rd to contend with. I sent that ghost off on his merry way. Who could begrudge this beautiful child? Seems like only yesterday that the midwife placed that warm and slippery bundle of joy on my chest, initiating me into the world of motherhood. We survived the terrible twos, held our breath through the torrential threes and here we are today at four. (Somebody, please tell me that the alliteration for four is positive! Fantastic fours? Fabulous fours? Somebody, anybody?) My little baby, my little boy, my little man....where did the time go? Christmas magic is remembering...

And so, even though Stinky's advent cookie ribbon has been on "Christmas Eve" mode for the past 5 days since she snuck and ATE all her cookies last week, and even though our DIY Costco holiday cards will probably arrive after Christmas, it's all good. Somewhere, somehow, I think we've managed to nurture the magic and peace that Christmas is all about. I had one of those maybe-you're -doing-a-decent -job-as- a- mom moments when Bossy asked if we could buy a toy for kids whose parents can't afford Christmas gifts. And I realized that all that knitting, baking and wrapping...well, sure it's nice, but superfluous, really. Isn't it funny how the voice of a child can bring it all home to you in a single moment? The magic of Christmas is love....

And since our greeting cards have all been sent (C'mon, you all know what a Karen Carpenter freak I am, I had to fit that line in somehow! ), I thought I'd end by sharing the e-version of our (late-to-be!) paper greeting. Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday, filled with love, joy and the magic of the season. . . Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

38 comments:

Lolly said...

Christmas magic is reading dear friend's hilarious blog posts! :)
Your tree is lovely! We did not put one up this year - so I love seeing all of the ones that my blogger friends have. Great gingerbread house too!

The Hello Kitty tote is SO cute, Chris! Your sis will love it! There was a Hello Kitty knitalong last year, wonder what ever happened to that...

Love to you and the family - that picture at the end is too cute!

Sheryl said...

I get to be the first to comment. Being up at 5 am has its advantages. First, the tree story is priceless. My childhood trauma came with the installation of the lights. It tested every nerve my dad had to get them untangled and on the tree. My hubby has less patience than my dad, so we went artificial and I put the thing together and string the lights. I do miss the smell of a real tree though I don't miss the needles. Your tree looks great. I LOVE your Hello Kitty! I am a Hello Kitty fan too and will check out the website for charting. Lastly, you are an awesome mom - I can just tell by the way you write about your kids, the things you do that they are highly cherished, loved, cared for and instructed in the ways of life. Kudos to you!

Anonymous said...

You got the perfect photo for your cards!!! It looks great and captures their impishness.
Your tree is beautiful and your holiday memories warm my heart.
The Hello Kitty tote for your sister is fabulous. She will love it.
A belated Happy Birthday to Bossy! You are a wonderful mom and I bet he knows it!
Karen
http://nothingbutknit.blog-city.com/

Karen said...

How is it the you are able to write funny post after funny post, one more hysertical than the last?? Would it surprise you to say I identify greatly with your Mom and was just grumbling about needles all over the house? (Didn't think so.) I had friends over one year to help trim the tree, but I had to rearrange all the ornaments after they left because they hung them in the wrong places. (You probably think I'm kidding, but sadly I'm not.) Your tree and gingerbread house are wonderful - and I'm proud for all your tounge biting in the process. You've made the whole season even more fun for Bossy and Stinky! And Happy Birthday Bossy - your thoughts back over the four years brought a tear to my eye. It's so great that he wants to donate a toy this season - it everyone family did that it would make a lot of Christmases better. I'll sign off on the worlds longest comment by saying you are doing a wonderful job on the Hello Kitty bag - so impressive!!!

mamma said...

My husband is just like you. Every ornament must be hung in precisely the right spot. Well you've seen on my blog how christmas decorating goes. the holidays really are stressful. Making memories isn't easy.

Merry Christmas to you and your.

Anna said...

Omgosh! Karen Carpenter!! I LOVE her!!! I have their Christmas album (it's on cassette, but I lost the case). It's my favorite Christmas album.

Have a wonderful Christmas!!!! And since you're in Hawaii, Mele Kalikimaka!!!

Teresa said...

Woohooo! Intarsia-isle! Love it-and it looks great! It is funny how much work it does take to make memories. I always thought it just "happened", but now with kids of my own I realize how much work really goes into it. Happy Birthday Bossy!! Four is good, but brings a whole new plate to the table. More independence, bigger vocabulary...you get the idea. Lots of funs though.

Have a wonderful Christmas-and here is to another happy memory for all of you!!

Laura said...

It sounds as though you all are having a beautiful Christmas! Way to go, mom! I'm not sure how much Christmas magic I'm creating around here, but I plan to get cracking on that soon. LOL!

John's birthday was yesterday -- those December birthdays are killers. I mean, you have to create birthday magic and Christmas magic practically concurrently. That's rough. I bet you are so proud of Bossy. He's a cutie.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Terby said...

We will never complain about reading long posts from you - you're too funny.

Enjoy the magic. And of course, you're a great mom. I think we tend to focus more on the chaos when we're older, and as kids, it all seems pretty seamless and perfect.

Your tree is lovely, your gingerbread house (!) wowed me, and the Hello Kitty will make a great gift. Cards? Cookies? You're so far ahead of me this year...

You're doing an amazing job. Merry Christmas!

Talitha said...

Ack, a tear. That picture is adorable. And the stories... ahhh you're definitely a lucky mom. I definitely understand what you mean about the Christmas tree OCD. I was never even allowed to put anything on until a ripe old age. And here, where it's usually minus 20 celcius when you go to get a tree, you have to wait hours for it to unthaw once you get it in the stand. I think if you guys had lived here you may be a child from a broken home like I am. All because of the tree, ha ha. Mmm... I think I need to bake me some gingerbread. Oh, and my mom never let us forget how hard it was on her to make those Christmas memories... maybe it wasn't just the tree that formed my broken home ;). Merry Christmas and post again if you feel you want to, I'll read it no matter how long.

Jennifer said...

My dear, you don't write drivel. Your post brings back memories of my own, and makes me think of all the smiling I've been doing lately amongst the Christmas Crazies *ahem* I mean Joys.

You have a Merry and peaceful Christmas with your beautiful family.

Ragan said...

I love all your pictures & projects! That Hello Kitty sweater is coming out great! I hope that you have a wonderful holiday break, now that your classes are over! Enjoy the time spent with family and all of that last minute knitting!

Alison said...

Happy Birthday to Bossy. My oldest was six-years-old on the 16th.

We have a really good artificial tree. I'm too lazy to go trudging around in the cold to look for a perfect tree when we can just grab one out of the basement ;)

Jenn said...

I am totally OCD about our Christmas tree. Lights must be just right. Ornaments must be just right. And then I screw around with it all month, moving this here and oh no, an empty spot! Move something there!

And oh, how i laughed when you said no one could ever remember if you had seven or 8 foot ceilings. We thought we had 8 foot ceilings and got a 7 and a half foot artificial tree (yes, artificial makes me sad but we're going away for Christmas and don't want to come home to a stick in the stand) and...it turns out our ceilings are seven and a half feet. Doh! On the plus side, it keeps us from having to find a tree topper we both like.

Learning intarsia for Christmas presents! Holy crap. It looks great!

Your Christmas card photo is so cute, who cares if they're going to be late? It's worth the wait.

Happy Belated Birthday, Bossy! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Kim said...

Great story! I have some very similar in my past. Enjoy your 4 year old because once they enter Kindergarten they go into this very trying "preteen phase"--where you become the most ignorant person that walked the planet(at least that's been my experience with my 5 year old) if you aren't their teacher you know nothing. Happy Holidays--do me a favor and go to the beach on Christmas day--it was always one of my favorite things to do when I lived there :)

christine said...

Chris - I'm dabbing my wet eyes right now, what a beautiful, and funny post. The picture of Bossy and Stinky is precious, and I had a good laugh at little Stinky's love of candy.....
Unfortunately, like Karen, I can relate to the Christmas OCD - got it bad. And for a person with OCD, a live Christmas tree is the ultimate challenge.....shudder....
Happy Birthday to Bossy, and Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family. (P.S. Now I have to meet your mom, too..........;)

Sonya said...

You are a good mom, Chris. Bossy and Stinky always look like they're having a ball! I love Stinky's pigtails, BTW. Your tree and gingerbread house look so festive. My mom, brother and I did a gingerbread house one year. Let's just say that my mom and your mom have a lot of similar tendencies.

You are a brave woman to take on intarsia during the Christmas panic. It looks great and your sister will love it.

No more apologizing for long posts. We love 'em! Merry Christmas!

Acornbud said...

Thanks for sharing so many precious moments and memories. Sometimes I think you grew up with my parents! That Hello Kitty tote is just so cute and what great colors.
Stinky and bossy look so peaceful and happy...I think you hit on the true meaning of Christmas.
As the 17th commenter, I see I'm not the only one starved for your posts:) Have a most happy holiday season.

myra said...

Happy belated birthday Bossy!!

Wow, what a super Mom you are. I'm constantly amazed at how much you manage to get done with 2 kids and school!

Your tree is simply gorgeous and I love the hello Kitty tote.

And I too bit my tongue while I watched my son decorate our tree this year. I've since grown to love having all the ornaments on the lower part of one side of the tree. It's modern and hip!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

knittinmom said...

Oh, your tree looks so lovely! And it sounds like you're doing a great job of making Xmas very magical for your kids. I'm afraid I'm not nearly as Martha as you are... I'd love to make a gingerbread house with Sydney, but I'm afraid the pre-cut sugar cookies from Tollhouse are the closest we're going to get over here. Fortunately my mother-in-law is VERY Martha and only lives 2 miles away...

Love the Hello Kitty bag! Fredo will adore it. Lucky sister!

Agnes said...

You are certainly one busy mom during Christmas time ... so many things to attend to! My household is a simple one ... and our apartment a small one ... that simplified things a lot ... especially when it comes to the tree! LOL!
Wish you an awesome Christmas with your awesome family!

Say said...

Yes, you sound as though you've captured the Christmas magic of your childhood, and with fewer calculations regarding alimony payments. ;) I love the ginger bread house! It's been so long since I've made one.

BTW, if you can master intarsia (the idea of needing bobbins for anything terrifies me), than you would adeptly master fair isle.

Merry Christmas to you too!

Jenn said...

We've missed your posts! The tree and gingerbread house look lovely - very nice work! And your hello kitty bag is great - I can't believe you're learning colorwork at christmas - you go girl!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday, no matter the imperfections - after all, they make it memorable! :)

erin said...

Such a fun read. In my house, my hubby puts up the tree, I put up the lights, then the kids put up the ornaments, until they get bored, then I finish up. The worst part is not treeday, the worst part is taking it all down. One year, I refused to be the one to take it down, so we left it until Chinese New Year!
Have a blessed CHristmas.

Mimi said...

It's a such a fun description of your Christmas preparation, I had a great time reading it. I am sure your kids will grow up with wonderful memories. You are certainly a great mom! All the pictures of the tree, gingerbread and the kids were adorable!
The Hello Kitty purse for your Sis looks so cute! You are knitting it pretty well and is only your first time doing intarsia!
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Jen said...

Thanks much!

My parents were also a bit OCD about christmas tree decorating. Though it was always a Douglas fir. The tree was always perfectly straight, and the exact correct amount of limbs were always trimmed from the bottom. And the concentration of lights and ornaments by color and type always evenly distributed.

Better still, after christmas. The ornaments all went back into their original boxes, and yes, that includes the lights! Just TRY and put strands of 150 christmas lights back into their original boxes and get them to close again. Then multiply by 10 because darn it we like our trees bright!

Ahh, Christmas trees. I miss them.

Merry Christmas!

amylovie said...

You are one busy lady! Merry Christmas, and I'll look forward to hearing from you after the holidays.

Amy

kimberly said...

It sure sounds like you're doing a wonderfully job at creating a magical Christmas for your kids! The gingerbread house is so cute. We've made them every year but this one. oops. You're good-I didn't even get a card going this year. Your kids look great, how many pictures did it take to get that great one? ;)

Cheryl said...

wwe called them the gawd-awful fours....sorry...

Lynda said...

Hee Hee - talk about blog-stalking... you don't post near often enough - no one makes me laugh more than you... ok, well maybe Keohinani sometimes!

Ahh... what is it about a Christmas tree that turns the best of families against each other! Yours is beautiful.

And Bossy and Stinky - can't get enough of those two!!

Debi said...

Hilarious and tender post! Your friendship has made my Christmas a little more magic! Blessings and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Stricken madchen said...

Your family tree story is too funny. Christmas is a lot of work for parents. But somehow the kids always make it worth it, don't they?
I love your sisters bag! I'm seriously wishing I was her right now...hehe.
And as the mother of 2 boys, I think that when they turned 4 I was finally able to breath again and every year since then seems to just get better. Your little guy sure is a cutie!

keohinani said...

sorry for the late comment :( but my, you've been up to some fun stuff lately! intarsia-isle, huh? you'll have to enlighten me one of these days. it looks adorable, though!
and yeah, seriously, if i have to hear that christmas gift of aloha candy cane train song one more time i'm going to walk in front of it and try to put an end to this misery! or maybe i should just stay away from ala moana? wouldn't wanna traumatize any of the kiddies...
your kids are absolutely the most adorable in the world! (next to my niece and nephew, of course) ;) have a happy holiday!!!

Olga said...

that post was awesome! it completely captured the magic of the season (which, let's face it, the fact that we haven't killed our relatives by the end of it, that's magic). and that picture of your beautiful kids! you deserve to be very proud. merry xmas!

Cat said...

Merry Christmas to You and Your family!! As we say in Sweden: GOD JUL!!

Cathy said...

Your posts are ALWAYS wonderful (no pressure to keep it up at all ;)), the knitting is phenomenal and your kids are absolutely ADORABLE! I hope you have the most fantastic Christmas ever, you most certainly deserve it. You are a special person, and I am very grateful that "Blog land" put you in my path! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Mrs.Curvy said...

Beautiful pictures of the kids!! Love your projects! Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season!!

Wanda said...

That's truly such a beautiful sentiment. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's to you and yours. Thanks as always for the wonderful posts and funny stories!