Saturday, December 02, 2006


I didn't think I would feel any holiday-related pressure this season, but when I turned the calendar over to the December page, I did suddenly get the sense that I had too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Reason quickly took over and I realized that there really isn't all that much to do. We have only two gifts left to buy, and I have two left to make. That's certainly a better status than we've ever before had on December 2nd. There are cards to write, gifts to wrap, and packages to send, but those tasks really aren't all that monumental.

Tomorrow we are going to get our Christmas tree. I'm really looking forward to it. We're going to get it from a tree farm this year. We've always bought pre-cut trees in the past, but since Elise is old enough to enjoy outdoor activities, we decided to go and cut our own this year. Should be fun. I love decorating the tree. I don't have any of the ornaments from my childhood, unfortunately, but we have dozens of ornaments from Andy's childhood, and we have added quite a few of our own over the last five years. We inherited some special ornaments from Andy's grandmother. Even though I never met her, these ornaments hold special meaning. We have one ornament from our honeymoon, one from our first Christmas together, one from our trip to Austria, and one (actually several) from Elise's first Christmas. There are a few from former coworkers, a few from my kids at church. Our tree is full of memories and stories. It's fun.

Tonight we went to a Christmas party. It is an annual event that provides us with a good opportunity to catch up with some people whom we don't see very often. It was a bit awkward this year because we didn't know most of the people there, but it was still nice to visit with the few we did know. Among that particular group of friends, we are the only ones with a child, a fact that is becoming less and less common. It was interesting to watch and think about. Everyone seemed to enjoy Elise's presence (although next year I think we'll leave her with a babysitter for the evening), but it was obvious that...well, that our lives were very different. The closest parallel to us was the couple who had brought their dog with them. They bring it everywhere. Tonight they had forgotten to bring his food with them (something I have been guilty of with Elise), so our hostess made a big bowl of rice for him. They had to let him out of the car periodically so he could stretch his legs. They have labeled themselves the "quintessential yuppie dog owners", and...well, they may be right. But I mean that in the nicest way imaginable. They are dear friends and we always enjoy spending time with them.

Our holiday plans changed this afternoon. We had planned to spend the weekend of the 16th and 17th with my family in Portland. Today, however, my mom asked if my younger brother could stay with us next week while my parents are out of town. Since my parents will be driving up to pick him up next Saturday, Andy had the fabulous idea of just celebrating Christmas with them then, rather than making the drive down to Portland the very next weekend. As I think I mentioned in a recent post, Elise simply does not travel well right now, so we were looking forward to a sleepless weekend trip. This way works out so much better, at least for us. I hope it works well for my family, who have all graciously agreed to it. I think we'll have a good time with Joe, my brother, as well. I have really never spent much time with him without the rest of the family around. I moved out when he was five, and now he is fourteen. Anyway, my plans for the upcoming week have changed rather drastically, but I think it'll be a good week. I just need to make sure that we have enough clean towels and sheets, pillows, and food for a small army.

By the way, the reason my parents will be out of town is that my older brother, Nathan, is being commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army, and they are flying out for the ceremony. He enlisted in the Air Force eleven years ago, when he was nineteen. He has received awards and commendations for excellence at every job to which he has been assigned. He has earned his bachelor's degree in his "spare" time. He married a wonderful, lovely woman, Laura, and the two of them have two beautiful children. Nathan adores his children and is a wonderful father. Becoming an officer has been a longtime dream of his, and unfortunately an opportunity to pursue that dream did not present itself in the Air Force, so he decided to transfer to the Army. He has been in OTS, away from his family, for several months, and next week he will be commissioned. Not surprisingly, he has received commendations for excellence and has been placed in a position of leadership in OTS. I am immensely proud of him. From what I understand, he will be stationed with a unit that frequently deploys to Iraq, which is more than a little unsettling to my family. But Nathan loves his country, and I think he would welcome the chance to serve in such a way.

Well, that was a detour from my holiday thoughts. We are looking forward to a few Christmas-related events in the coming weeks, but what I am most looking forward to - and actually enjoying already - is introducing Elise to Christmas. We have read the story of Baby Jesus several times, and she has learned that Santa Claus says, "Ho, ho, ho!" I have told her that every time we've seen a Santa Claus over the last several weeks, and a while back she started responding, "O, o" when I would ask, "What does Santa Claus say?" Well, last night I was rocking her late at night (see Andy's post) and the television was on. I wasn't paying attention, but she must have been, because she sat up suddenly and said, "O, ho, ho!" Sure enough, there was Santa Claus on the TV screen. It made my night! I am really looking forward to having the tree set up, as I think she will just love it. We have determined, however, that we won't be able to keep the wrapped gifts under the tree prior to Christmas this year. Too tempting for our own little Curious George. Oh, well.

Right now I am going to stop typing away on this tiny keyboard and instead am going to drink the tea that my husband made for me some time ago, wrap a blanket around my shoulders - it's freezing in here - and watch Miracle on 34th Street. Good night.

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