We were in and out of the Christmas tree farm in less than thirty minutes, including the five seconds it took our bumbling tree guy to break the perfect point off the top of the tree as he tied it up to Ye ‘Ol Suburu. New record.
Granted, the sun was on its way down, and it was darn cold, which sped us on our way. I don’t think G felt we had sufficiently considered his opinion—or that we had given him any time at all to form an opinion—but once John put saw to trunk, he was satisfactorily convinced.
Gabriel is about all things Christmas. His delight in the tree (and its ornaments) is quite electric. He visits his guitar on a regular basis, and checks in with the various Santa ornaments. Once a day he opens the tree in the shape of a pear and laughs at the naked partridge therein.
This year we have been particularly considering just what to make of Christmas. We celebrated the real St. Nicholas on December 6th by attending a Vespers service the evening before, during which time J donned his altar robes and did his best not to fidget (“I had to pee the whole time mom!”). He also kept smelling his hands and wiping them on his robes (“My hands got all sweaty mom!):
The boys put out their boots on the eve of the feast. Predictably, Gabriel awoke around 4 a.m. to look and see what the Great Nick had put in his boot. I wrestled him in my bed for a good forty-five minutes to no avail; he’d caught a glimpse. It was all “Count Dooku” this (he got a Lego keychain) and “My own microphone!” that (walkie talkies). J awoke not much later, and the rest of the morning was spent trying to keep them asleep for a reasonable amount of time.
G is in a state of confusion about the multiple manifestations of Santa Claus. J is riding the fence as to whether he exists at all. And then there’s the question of gifts, of consumerism, of waste. And of course, money. It’s so fun to get; I’m as delighted as the next person to receive something I’ve really wanted or admired. That said, I have taken at least five trips to the used kids’ shop in the past year, selling back unused, forgotten toys and outgrown clothes.
Yet Christmas is my favorite and my best. My name day (Ruth) comes right before (Sunday of the Genealogy). The familiar refrain of “God with us” resets me; the cold weather and skeleton trees invigorate and make the contemplative girl in me wake up.
But the way to “do” Christmas remains a question we test and wrestle with every year. Especially far from family and the established traditions we grew up with.
In weather-related news, today is crystalline cold. We bundle up periodically to get outside and get our crazies out, not that that works. Someone at church remarked to me Sunday, “At least they’ll conk out at night.” Not necessarily.