So. Alex and I made the decision to forego gifts to each other this Christmas (for which we had saved), in order to be able to actually decorate the house FOR Christmas, for Bella. It's something we've never really gotten serious about since we got married, because, for one thing, we almost always "did Christmas" at our mothers' homes, and frankly, they are REALLY good at it, both of them. And then Bella was born. Well, that first year...I'll just say it was a ROUGH year. She was born in October, we had a bunch of our own stuff going on, and we didn't even manage to get a tree up in our own house. In the following three years, we did decorate outside, with lights up and down the driveway and all over the house, and a giant star over the barn (cute, right?), and did put up a tree. On at least one of those Christmases, the tree was unadorned except for lights, and last year, we once again did not put one up at all, because of our impending move. But my mother's decorations and tree more than made up for our shortcomings:
But. BUT--this year, darn it, our first Christmas in our first "grownup" house, with a daughter who is now FOUR years old and is darn well starting to build forever memories, we just can't get away with decorating like we did last year, including the single dominating piece of decor in our tiny kitchen/dining nook, the poodle stand-dryer:
So, back to the master-plan. That new Sony 10-mp digital camera we were buying for each other as our single shared gift? Buh-bye (but we will meet again, my love). This year, we're spending that camera money on a tree (two, actually, because we got a smaller one for the living room window), and the decorations with which to cover it, and if there's anything left, maybe some lights for outside and around. Our existing ornaments, as pitiful as most of them were, should be sufficient for the window-tree, but we had nothing, especially nothing that wouldn't clash horribly, color-wise, with our hearth-room, which is where the tree HAS TO BE, by Decree of Isabella, because that's where the fireplace is, and we don't want Santa getting lost or disoriented, you know.
My first minor nervous breakdown came when we bought the 7.5', pre-lit tree. It was just a LOT of money, to me. The second was tonight, when we spent slightly MORE than what the tree cost, on ornaments for the tree, specifically chosen, for the first time in my life, to compliment the room in which they'll be. But OH, they are beautiful. SO beautiful. Want a peek? Just a tease? They're unusual, but try to picture them in the proper setting: Our house, nestled in the trees, wildlife all around, in a cozy hearthroom full of deep, rich earthy tones and a crackling fireplace:I'm seriously hoping I can pull it off. That doesn't QUITE eat up our camera money, but it's darn close. I figure we can squeeze a tree-topper out of it, and a few yards of rich, honey/copper/cinnamon fabric of some kind in which to swathe the base of the tree, in lieu of a traditional skirt (we have a beautiful handmade tree skirt that was a gift from my grandmother that will go on the tree in the front room). It needs to be pretty, because there won't be as many gifts with which to cover it this year! Fortunately, we already have a nice Nativity set.
Yes, at our house, Christmas 2006 is going to be pretty much all about Bella. We're trying to keep the gift-related materialism to a minimum, and she's going to have to make some tough decisions about gifts, and which ones she REALLY wants, and we're trying to figure out the best way to involve her in some charitable giving, too. We're finally at the age where we realize that these things ARE "for the children," and that's the way we're approaching this year. We plan to purchase gifts for the children in the family (this is where having a smallish family comes in handy, because we're basically talking five kids), and for our own mothers and grandmother.
For the rest, we're scraping together what we would normally spend on Gifts You Don't Need from Stores You Don't Like Anyway, and sending it to the Arkansas-based Heifer Project. Heck, the way we figure, we're already at the point that even if we stop now, someone in South America's getting a water buffalo! So if you get a card from us explaining that you contributed to the self-sufficiency of some poor third-world family, and eventually their entire community, with a gift of llamas or geese or trees or even a water buffalo...well, just know that it means we think the world of you, and trust that you'd be totally behind us in this effort. Last year we split our giving between the Union Rescue Mission and Heifer Project, but I think this year, it's going to be Heifer all the way, because we have learned that they don't just help people in faraway places, but also perform their outreach within our own state and many others in the U.S. I'm proud to have even any small association with this amazing organization, and if you're looking for a cause, may I please encourage you to thoroughly check out Heifer Project. You're not just "giving a man a fish," or even stopping at "teaching him to fish," but through Heifer gifts, you're helping THAT man (or woman) to teach yet ANOTHER person to fish, and that "giving cycle" goes on and on and on, ever growing, ever helping. Again: Heifer Project.
And after that plea for altruism, is it wrong of me to admit that Alex and I are both pining for (but have resisted purchasing) a pair of these?Yeah. Couple of the big ones, which would be a RIDICULOUS $180-worth of crazy vine-woven reindeer. I mean, honestly. We won't do it. WE WON'T. But aren't they yummy? And perfectly matching my warm terra-cotta-ey hearthroom? le siiiiiiigh. But after seeing how much this store's Halloween stuff is marked down already, my plan is to lie in wait until about January 1st, and see if these babies are astonishingly less expensive at that time. Hey, that's the way my grandmother would play it, and that lady's NO FOOL.
But yes, Isabella, we WILL have a beautiful Christmas tree this year, and those sparkling snowflake decals you like so much all over the giant windows, and as many lights as we can afford festooning the outside of the house. I promise you won't have to visit your grandmothers' homes to see what real decorations look like this year. And no dog drier anywhere to be seen!