Christmas Tree Magic

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of getting a Christmas tree. The funny thing is even thought I am approximately eight and twelve years older than my sisters, I don’t really remember getting a tree before they were born.

Kids make Christmas fun!

We always cut our own trees. There was ALWAYS snow, so we bundled up in snow pants, boots, hats and mittens. Mittens were doubled up because they did double duty. Not only did they keep your hands warm, but they were also used to put on top of the trees, as a signal that tree is in the running to be “the one.”
Ready to go, we would make the happy trek to Hunt’s Tree Farm on the other side of town. We always found the perfect tree and watched in wonder as dad, dressed always in jeans and a Carhart jacket, wiped away the snow with his boot, lay on the ground, and cut down the tree.
GO DAD GO!
My husband and I have had a tree since the first year we lived together. We have found our perfect trees in a number of ways. We have gone alone to cut our own, tagged along with family to cut together, paid too much in an overly-lit lot. While always fun, and always special, there was always something missing.
I don’t remember where we got our tree the first year we had Ben. But I know the year after we started going to a tiny little tree farm down the road. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. It doesn’t even have a name! There isn’t more than a couple of acres of property, and you have to walk behind the owner’s house, through his back yard, and around his gardens to get to the trees. But it’s so homey, and the owner so welcoming, you don’t mind. I love going there.
The first year we took Ben, when he was about 20-ish months old, we had a ton of snow! We pulled him around the hilly farm on a sled as we searched for the “Griffin Family Christmas Tree.” He laughed and ate snow, and we found the perfect tree, and daddy kicked the snow away with his boot and lay on the ground to cut.
GO DAD GO!
The second year we took him there was even more snow. While daddy strapped the tree to the top of the car, I sat Ben in a snow bank and snapped silly pictures of him.
We have continued the tradition with Genevieve, although it was only her first year that we had snow, and it was only a little bit. But she has enjoyed our trips to the tree farm, and her brother showing her the ropes. One thing about there being no snow, is you can really tear through the farm, racing from tree to tree to inspect them. Or, in her case, hug them and tell them you love them. We have a pine tree hugger on our hands, folks.
This year the trees are looking a little sparse at our little farm. I’m a creature of habit, and so I’m worried about what we will do next year, as I think they will need another year to become perfect trees. I’m going to shelve that worry though, because I know no matter where we get a tree, we will be together. Creating memories. Creating magic. Them for us as much as us for them.

Kids make Christmas magical.

cutting down the Chrismas tree
GO DAD GO!

Where do you find Christmas magic?

I’m dreaming of Christmas cookies

Some of us dorky girls decorating cookies!

My mother is a baker. Every year, in her small Georgia kitchen, she spends countless hours making several kinds of Christmas cookies that she treks to us in Upstate NY. Sugar cookies cut into at least a dozen Christmas shapes. Chocolate gingerbread cookies. Chocolate crackles. Thumbprints, both with and without almonds. “Fart blossoms” – peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses on top. Two kinds of kolaches. More that I can’t even remember.

All of this baking and traveling is followed up with a huge family cookie decorating party. Much fun.

But this year, suddenly and unexpectedly, there is some illness, and they can’t come. So now I’m faced with cookie baking. There won’t be a decorating party, but I will bake, although two kinds only. Sugar and fart blossoms.

Being faced with this made me wonder: where do other people get their cookies?

So I pose these questions: do you bake your cookies or do you buy them, or does someone make them for you? If you bake them, do you make them from scratch, or do you “slice and bake?” What is your favorite cookie? Do you have any other Christmas cookie traditions? A lot of questions, I know, but I would love to hear about what everyone else does!

Stream of conciousness Sunday: Christmas peace

#SOCsunday
It’s been a while since I actually wrote anything, let alone wrote anything with any substance. I guess it’s the season of busy. And also not being able to get out of my own way. The last three weeks have been hell on my brain. I’m fillied with worry and upset. Trying to see the light through the dark. Not worry, and be happy and thankful for what I have. It’s hard though. My husband doesn’t understand my constant worry. My kids pick up on my feelings and become monsters. My cute little monsters. There is just constant noise – in my head in my space. I find myself yelling – I JUST WANT TO BE ALONE! BACK OFF!

I am looking forward to today, though, and looking forward to the week to come. I’m just going to do what I can to make peace with the holiday, and make peace with my family not being able to come home for Christmas, by creating my own family memories and happiness. Today we are going to get some breakfast and then decorate our house. We got the perfect tree. The best we’ve ever bought. Tomorrow I’m going to try to finish up some graphics projects and get some blog design comps to a client. And then I’m taking the rest of the week for me. I have cookies and bread to bake, the last of my shopping to do, tutu’s to make, and presents to wrap. My husband has Friday off so I think we are going to let Ben stay home and we can decorate cookies. I need a hair cut. I may even splurge and get a holiday mani/pedi. I can’t afford it though. And then we are off and running, this way and that.

I’m looking forward to peace, though.

I choose Santa

Santa
Santa image courtesty of bjmcdonald on Flickr

Do you believe?

Close your eyes for a minute, and imagine yourself on a magical Christmas morning. It could be anytime – childhood, adulthood, whatever. Now let’s say this together.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Now how do you feel? Magical? Nostalgic? Warm and fuzzy in your belly? Do you – like me – want to cry from overwhelming happiness?

This feeling is why I believe, and why I want my children to believe too. There really is no other feeling like it.

Our children ask, “who is Santa?” Well, he’s jolly old Saint Nick, of course! Kris Kringle! Father Christmas! Sinterklaas! All fun, happy jolly names for a guy who brings you shit. Which is cool, but I like to wonder, WHAT is Santa?

Santa is magic.

This is a special kind of magic. It’s the magic of wonder and awe. The simple act of believing that something magical can happen. It’s the magic of giving and receiving. Thinking of others – remembering that one small thing they said in a conversation 6 months ago, and making it happen for them. Or giving to people in need. It’s the feeling of being remembered – especially by someone who is outside of your regular circle of life. A stranger who gave your kids a Christmas. Santa.

This is what I have taught my son, and what I plan to teach my daughter.

Some people think this is lying to children, or that when children find out that Santa is not “real” it is traumatizing. So they refuse to believe or teach their children about Santa’s magic. I say why? This world is so harsh. Sex, drugs, violence, poverty – why do we have to be honest about this too? I want Christmas to be magical and untainted. I want, no I NEED to believe that there is a safe-haven where we can live in our own bubble and believe in peace and harmony. And I need my children to believe in that magic too. I need them to be able to take a step back and be filled with wonder and awe. To not be hard. To be kids. And I want to join them.

So, I choose Santa. Do you?

When did Macy’s buy Justin Bieber?

I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t enjoy the Justin Bieber Black Friday ad during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I did, and I laughed. Every one of the one hundred times they played it. If you haven’t seen it, here it is. If you have seen it, please enjoy it again. You’re welcome.

I even kind of enjoyed the “All I Want for Christmas” video. But kinda I didn’t. Watch it, and then we can discuss.

First of all, when did Macy’s buy Justin Bieber?

Second of all, who was in charge of this project? And why did they forget that Mariah Carey is 41 and Justin Bieber 17? Don’t get me wrong here, because I’m not trying to slam Mariah Carey. She’s still hot. But shaking your ass to a 17 year-old is just…inappropriate. And weird. And inappropriate. And I don’t know about you, but I’m sitting here doing some super fancy math and my counting fingers tell me that if there were some very unfortunate and also inappropriate situations, she is bordering on being old enough to be his grandmother. Extreme, I know, but almost true.

Am I totally off base here?

I want to thank Nicole from her social network for bringing this to my attention! Go check out what she had to say about it!

December is upon us…

And so is the cray-cray holiday rush to buy everything we can, make ourselves crazy, and totally not enjoy time with our loved ones. In my attempt (let’s hope not totally futile) to relax and enjoy some time off, or, at least a little break, which I SORELY need, I thought I would plan it all out. ‘Cause you know, that’s just what I do.

December goals

Get out Skippy-Joan Jones (our Elf on a shelf) tonight. I WILL! I WILL NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!

Have a merry Christmas with my husband, kiddos, and family.

Clean my house from top to bottom. I only do this annually.

Do as little work and stressing out as possible between December 17th and January 1st. I can do this. I KNOW I can do this!

Deal with my dining room/office situation. Right now I’m mostly working at the dining room table, which doesn’t get cleaned off for dinner. So we eat in front of the TV. Which is embarrassing to admit, but there it is. The truth. I think maybe a rolling card would help my situation?

Start blogging on my business blog, and get marketing already! Laying foundation and groundwork only goes so far….

Work on switching gears more easily.

I will exercise.

I will exercise.

I will exercise.

So that is really it. I am leaving my calendar open and NOT filling it!

What are your goals for December?

Let’s talk Christmas food!

Christmas dinner from lejoe on FlickrMy parents are coming from home for Christmas, and I love to cook for them!

First night here – a big meal after a long day on the road – pork loin, homemade applesauce, potato pancakes, roasted root vegetables.

Pizza!! We have an annual family cookie decorating party and we order pizza. Yum!

On the lighter side – heirloom tomato bisque, grilled cheese on homemade bread and a big salad.

Christmas eve – appetizer potluck! We usually have shrimp cocktail, 7 layer dip, crudités, antipasto platter, fruit, some sort of soup/chowder/chili, cheese, crackers, and pepperoni, and cookies.

Christmas dinner – Sirloin roast with mushrooms and onions, baked potatoes, lasagna, salad, homemade rolls, roasted brussels sprouts, cheesecake.

With all this food we are sure to have leftovers!

What are your holiday plans? Do you have special visitors? Are there special foods you enjoy preparing?

Holiday traditions part 1

Elf on a Shelf
We love holiday traditions, new and old!

This week on our podcast, Kate and Laine’s Ultimate Podcast, we are gearing up for the holidays and discussing our favorites, like shopping, food, music, etc. In preparation for recording the podcast, I thought it might be nice to outline some of my holiday favorites. So here we go:

Favorite place to shop – local, green, great deals, and online: I like to shop as much as I can in Downtown Ithaca.  I also like to buy music for people on Funkyside. I honestly don’t do a lot of green shopping. I love to shop at Target, and I USED to shop at Borders online but alas, no more. Mainly, though, my big shopping joy comes from remembering something obscure someone said and then making their dream come true!

Where is your favorite place to shop?

Favorite traditions: My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is that my family celebrates on Saturday after Thanksgiving. It really eases the stress of the day, since many of us have more than one family to visit. This is a win-win situation for everyone because we can all enjoy our time together without rushing around. My favorite Christmas tradition is actually making breakfast. After we exchange our gifts we ladies (and sometimes the gents) all gather in the kitchen to make breakfast together. They guys hang out and the kids play with their new toys and argue. It’s so fun to just cook and chat and then EAT! And chat. SO FUN!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Favorite foods: I think my favorite Thanksgiving food is dressing with gravy on it. And squash. And cranberry sauce, both homemade and canned. I’m not really sure, I love it all! I’m not sure what my favorite Christmas food is. I guess cookies, and also anything we have for Christmas dinner because it generally involves some sort of large cut of beef and a lot of sides. Remember this post? This is what I’m thinking for Christmas dinner this year – not to be freaky, it won’t be my last meal!

What are your favorite holiday foods?

Favorite music: Man, this is a hard one!! I love all the children’s classics. James Taylor Christmas, Boston Pops, Bing Crosby. I also have a new Jackson Five CD I bought on Borders clearance last year that I am ready to bust out. I’m sure it will be great. This is getting me psyched – I think I’m going to have to start listening to holiday music today!

What is your favorite holiday music? When do you start listening?

Favorite movies: All of the children’s classics – Peanuts, Rudolf, Frosty, Jack Frost, etc. Elf! National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a Wonderful Life. LOVE THEM!

What are your favorite holiday movies?

Favorite new tradition: Elf on a Shelf!

Do you have any new favorite traditions?

Now I’m super pscyhed for the holidays!

Do you have any holiday favorites? I want to hear them and feature them on future blog posts and on this week’s podcast!