Tag Archives: Christmas tree

Winter and flipping the switch

Day three of our Advent calendar asked the question, “Do you like winter?”   Mythankfulboy’s response was, “Yes and no”. He answered yes because he likes the cold and not the heat of summer, and because he likes snow and days off from school. He also likes winter because it contains Christmas, and during Christmas he gets to see his extended family, this year, down south.  He did note that sometimes it seems like we say too long, and he would like to have a Christmas at home, but he says it doesn’t feel like that when we’re there, just when we get back.  He answered no about liking winter because he doesn’t get to be outside much, and it is the only season without baseball. Momma likes winter for this reason, just because she needs a break!

I am happy to report that B came home from school today a different kid.  He had “flipped the switch”,  as we called it when he was younger, and came home with a happy and giving heart, ready to finish decorating the tree, happy to help with dinner, and asking when we could go shopping for gifts for his teachers.  And he gamed less without being asked.  I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  I’m still breathing a heavy sigh of relief.  I am also happy to report that I did better, as well. I kept it light, I kept it thankful, I threw in the nostalgia that comes with the season, and I was (we were) much happier for it.

Plus the tree is done.  No more baggage…

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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Tree decorating baggage

Day 2 of our Advent calendar.  Mythankfulboy’s direction was to tell me something he looked forward to in the coming year.  The first thing he asked was, “In high school, or in 2016?”  I was still putting lights on the tree.  I had had to fuss to get him off of Xbox after having given him plenty of warning of when he was supposed to be done, and I was annoyed.  The thought that crossed my mind was something along the lines of, and please forgive the blasphemous language of my inner thoughts, “Jesus Christ, B, what do you think it means?  It says ‘in the coming year.'”  Luckily, I checked this thought (or, as we say at work and at home, I kept it in my thinking bubble) and said, “2016”.  This is where I started the evening.

Between his question and the chalice lighting, I finished the lights and strung the garland.  I was in my element.  I then began hanging glass ice cycles which happened to be in the box with the garland.  I asked B to hang a few.  He sighed heavily and laid his head on the arm of the chair as though he were just too exhausted.  I went straight to guilt.  “The tree obviously means a lot to me.  You can’t even muster enough energy after hours of gaming to hang a few ice cycles?”  He got up and hung a few ice cycles all in the same 12″ square area.  I told him to actually move his stinkin’ feet around and spread them out.  He told me he didn’t want to do it at all if I were going to correct how he did it.  I said he wasn’t 4 anymore, and he knew I didn’t want them all in one spot.  And then I cried.

Ok.  I suck.  He’s 13, and he’s going to act like this sometimes, and he had had a migraine earlier in the day, so he may not have been at 100%.  I’m 47 and I shouldn’t act like this.  And, there’s the little thing you may recall from past years – I find some reason to get upset around the tree every year.  I have tree decorating baggage.  He stood there and looked at me, as a scientist might when trying to understand the origin of an odd behavior in a monkey.  He wasn’t annoyed or frightened, and the truth is, I’m a pretty emotional person, so he’s fairly used to my bursting into tears over everything from Christmas coffee commercials to any meanness in the world.  This time, though, he knew he had a hand in it, and he was trying to figure out exactly how the situation had devolved so quickly and what to do about it.  He wisely said, “I’m going to brush my teeth and then I’ll be right back.”  He then returned, asking what was next to do on the tree.

This part of the evening done (thank goodness?), we moved on to the snowglobe chalice lighting.  I brought in a snowglobe and a silly stuffed singing reindeer that sings “We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new deer”, and neither worked.  We changed batteries and got partial function in both.  We turned out the lights and talked about his Advent calendar prompt and did our snowglobe chalice thankfulness ritual.  For the prompt about what he looked forward to in the coming year, he said, “More independence”, quickly adding, “but not from you, mom – I’m thinking about high school”.  I pushed back the hair on his forehead and kept in my thinking bubble that I knew that it was okay if he meant it.  He continued on to say, “and I’m thankful you were there for me when I was sick at school”.  I said, “Yeah, that was what I was going to say, too.  It was so nice that I was close to home so I could keep up with your texts and be ready to go get you if you needed me to”.  I told him I was sorry for my outburst at the tree; that I had overreacted because of some of my own stuff.  I said that he may have noticed the theme lately around his not paying attention to what other people need or want, and that it affects me, yes, but that my bigger thought is for him. I really want him to practice and develop this skill because it is a skill he’s going to need in future relationships, and one that will have a huge impact on his happiness.  He reached out and put his hand on my arm and we sat quietly for a minute, listening to the Chrismas carols played by the miniature retro TV that had a snow scene inside of it.  He said, “We’ll do better tomorrow night.”

God bless him, and may it be so.

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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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What does kindness look like

Advent is upon us, and I realized I didn’t really know much about it.  My friends M, J, & S have an Advent wreath with four candles, and B has an Advent calendar in the form of 26 small cubbies behind tiny little doors in which I have typically stuffed candy.  When I was small, growing up in a Methodist church, I remember celebrating it, vaguely, but it’s meaning?  Yeah, gone.

So, I did some very light research, enough to decide that Advent was intended as a period of deprivation towards cleansing in preparation for welcoming newcomers into the Christian faith, and later to prepare for the coming (first or second) of Christ.  As with so many things, I wondered how we’d gone from a month or more of giving meaningful things up to getting something each day.  I decided that I didn’t want to change the candy-in-the-calendar tradition because mythankfulboy really looks forward to the treat, but I wanted to add a little meaning.  So, I borrowed and adapted from (which I found through the Alice the Chalice facebook page) a series of questions designed to ask kids at dinner each night of Advent.  I wrote one for each day on a thin slip of paper and tucked one into each box.  I asked him to respond on the back (tiny paper means wording doesn’t have to be elegant) and to deliver it to our evening chalice lighting for a bonus piece of chocolate.  Yes, a bribe – I mean, a reward.

Yesterday the paper read, “What does kindness look like?”  Mythankfulboy’s response was “It looks like going out of your way to make people happy.”   He delivered it to me while I was putting lights on the Christmas tree, which is a two-evening process because I wrap each branch (I know, I know, but it makes me happy!)   He sat in the red, cushy chair beside the tree and watched me wrap lights while we talked about his answer.  His first thought was that it was a hard question to answer without mixing “kindness” with “happiness”.  I said I thought that was because happiness – specifically someone else’s happiness – is usually central to kindness.  We talked about times that making someone happy wasn’t the goal of kindness, and our examples were usually around supplying something that fulfilled a need instead of a want, which came around to happiness again because, when you step up and help someone get what they need, they are relieved and happy that someone cared enough to help them.  He also brought up that kindness doesn’t have to mean going out of your way – that it can be something that barely takes a moment, but has a big impact, and maybe a bigger impact than you’d ever imagine.  He said it was easy to be kind to me, because it’s easy to make me happy.  At the time I just smiled, because it’s true for the most part, and it was sweet to hear.  Now that I reflect on this, though, I think I’ll go back to him and ask him about being kind to people who may not be easy to make happy, or to people who may reject our attempts at generosity.  Things worth spending time thinking about, right?  Thank you, Advent.

We revealed a favorite snow globe from his collection last night – a light-up Santa with a glowing globe in front of him, a long scroll to which he’s referring, and swirling glitter.  B has a sizeable collection, and this year I thought we’d get one out each evening instead of plunking them all down at once.  In the glow of the snow globe chalice, B said he was thankful for a good day.  I was thankful for having gotten lights on the bottom half of the Christmas tree…

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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Christmas magic

A quiet Thanksgiving was had with J & M & S.  Snow almost kept us from going, but we woke on Thanksgiving morning and found our way out of town.  M was sick, and J was getting sick, so we chilled for the most part, but J did his usual, fabulous smoked thing with the turkey.  We returned home in time for Crossfit (really?!), and the next day did our annual tree shopping with our friends J and V.  The snow on the ground, and the love of our friends, made it picture perfect.  The tree came in the house and B headed off to his dad’s for the night and the following day.  When I went to bed late that night I had a moment of complete magic – Dobby, the Christmas elf passed down from my mom’s tree when I was a little girl, was propped up on my side table.  Our tradition is that he arrives the night of the tree.  I had no idea that B even knew where to find him in the Christmas things.  But when I saw Dobby beside my bed, my first thought was not that B had put him there, but that he had arrived on his own.  What a wonderful gift – Christmas magic.  What a sweet boy.

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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Uncategorized


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I find that there is a lot of parental angst, especially around Christmas for many of us, around handing down traditions and making sure our children appreciate and enjoy them. Maybe it’s even broader than that – it’s making memories in general for our kids. On the other hand, maybe it’s all just a fight against the social withdrawal around technology.

Case in point. Getting B involved in putting up the Christmas tree this year was like pulling teeth. I can be a little obsessive about the lights, I can own that. I believe what he said to my friend the other day when talking about last year’s lights experience was “I died a little on the inside” (drama king). Still. Where was he for the garland? The ornaments? The star at the top? Sitting on the couch playing a game on a screen unless I fussed at him. By the end of the night, I found myself telling him that I wasn’t going to do this next year by myself, and that he should go ahead and decide now if he valued the tradition enough to put down his blasted iPod and participate (I don’t know where he gets the dramatic flair).

He was very upset. So I made my point; good for me. One point in the “Momma making Christmas memories” category.

A few days later, B went sledding with a friend and his little brother. The kids’ mom dropped him off and apologized for ending early, but her boys were fighting, and she had just had it. She said “I just wanted them to have a great memory of going sledding!”, and then she burst into tears. Boy I knew how that felt.

Why the pressure? Are we trying to replicate our own beautiful childhood memories? To make up for something we think we missed out on way back then? Darn it if I don’t think I just want to raise a tuned-in kid who sees the beauty in being together, working with our hands, and exploring nature. I don’t want the habit of the non-tangible, non-social, immediate feedback of technology to snare him.

This is going to take a while to process. Good thing every parent I know is trying to work it out, too, so I’ve got plenty of folks to talk to.

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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


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