The Life of a Christmas Tree

2006 Our first tree married, the word for this tree would new NEW!

2006 Our first tree married, the word for this tree would new NEW!

In October I wrote 31 letters to my mom to deal with the two year anniversary of her taking her life.  I thought about my mother almost constantly in October and now as the calendar has turned to December I can’t stop thinking about my Dad, whose been gone for 7 years now, which seems like a huge number of years to be without him.

7 Christmases without my Dad, blah.

I’ll never be able to do a Christmas season without longing for him, without wondering how he would have celebrated the season with his Grandkids.  I have his favorite ornaments on our tree and every year when we unwrap them his spirit is seems so close.

2007- Tiny apartment tree, the words for this tree would be SMALL BUT PERFECT

2007- Tiny apartment tree, the words for this tree would be SMALL BUT PERFECT

Every December growing up our family headed out to fresh-cut our Christmas tree from one of our local tree farms in Michigan.  My Dad always wore his ridiculous “Joseph and the coat of many colors” hat and brought along his rusty red handled saw.

We would scout for trees with great color and strong branches, but my Dad always focused on the trunk.  We’d spend an hour or so seeking the tree with the straightest trunk and fewest bald spots.  Then we’d pay and into the trailer it went.

Some years even the straightest looking trunks fooled my Dad and he’d find himself waging an epic battle coercing it into the tree stand.  A few years he ended up screwing it down into the floor, right through the carpet.

2008, Me 3 months pregnant with Noelle.  The word for this tree would be EXPECTATION

2008, Me 3 months pregnant with Noelle. The word for this tree would be EXPECTATION

Every freshly cut tree contained something intangible and special, it brought a forced togetherness in spite of the worst family storms we were weathering.

For me each year’s tree takes on a life of it’s own.  Even if you have an artificial tree, or three as we do, it never comes together quite the same.  The exact same ornaments and lights create something unique and lovely every year.

When I was a child they were filled with wonder, the smell of fresh evergreen and the branches full of ornaments, each with their own stories and memories.  The ones we made at kindergarden, the ones my Grandma put in our stockings, the parade of Hallmark rocking horses… they all made my child’s heart sing.

2010 - These trees never were decorated, my mom had just died and I was days away from having Caedmon.  The Word for these trees would be BROKEN

2010 – These trees never were decorated, my mom had just died and I was days away from having Caedmon. The Word for these trees would be BROKEN

My Christmas tree always speaks to the year we’ve had or the year we have on the way.  I can’t explain it, it’s bathed in something special, precious and full of memories, both remembered and made.

This year’s tree feels somehow hopeful, I can’t explain it.  When I sit in the light of our Christmas tree with the white lights and swirling red ribbon I feel like this is the best tree we’ve had in years.

This tree speaks not to grief or loss but to family, warmth and something new around the corner.

This year’s tree feels full of Joy and laughter even though it’s a full time job fending off the little hands of would-be ornament thieves.

2011- Our first year as a family of four, the words for these trees would be TENDER

2011- Our first year as a family of four, the words for these trees would be TENDER

As we decorated our tree this year my eyes trickled warm tears as Noelle sorted through our ornaments and hung each one with tender care. She told me at least a dozen times how happy she was decorating for Christmas.  As we decorated and the Christmas music played, I connected to her with a depth that has been sorely lacking lately.

The year’s tree somehow seems to be solidifying us as a family of four and bringing us a strength to stand tall in the gusts that seems to be finding their way through our front door.

2012- The word for these trees is HOPEFUL or HEALING.

2012- The word for these trees is HOPEFUL or HEALING.

Am I making sense?  Do your Christmas trees give off a feeling too?  

What does your tree feel like to you this year?

(yes I know that there is no picture from 2009 and yes I know that’s Noelle’s first Christmas.  It’s on our old digital camera which is broken.  I need to take the card into to Walgreens, maybe I’ll do that today… stop nagging me)

What I’m Into (November kind December edition)

69465_522123663967_618040025_n An amazing blog friend of mine, Leigh Kramer, is hosting a “What I’m Into” Blog Link Up.  I try to do these once a month or so because the simple and every stuff of life is a nice break and I like to pretend you’re super interested into what I’m into.

This weekend we needed to get outa town, so we headed up to Oklahoma City to the Hampton Inn in Bricktown, which is a lovely hotel complete with a splash pool designed for younger kids.  I didn’t spend a second on the sidelines, I went down the tiny water slide per Caedmon’s request and stood under the waterfall mushroom with Noelle.

In the evening the we snuggled up with our kids on the king bed and they fell asleep in  395153_522112675987_1483865209_nfront of Ice Age after we shared a pint of Rocky Road.  The next day Kel and I got to do some shopping just the two of us at Whole Foods, Sprouts and Petsmart.

It’s the little things these days, like fancy sea salt and a new litterbox for the cat called the Litter Dome.  I’m not sure if he should poop in it or cage fight other cats, but either way it hides his nasty business so I’m happy.

In the Kitchen– So per some doctor’s orders over the past month we’ve been switching our family to the Paleo lifestyle to see if it helps us out with some medical stuff.  So far I can honestly tell you that I don’t really miss bread, ask me again next week though.

So as far as recipes, I don’t have many to share, but of course we will be cooking some totally NON-Paleo Christmas cookies this week for the Cookie Exchange Link Up.

On my Nightstand– I just bought myself Spirit Led Parenting and Love and Logic Magic  For The Early Years.  So I’ll be diving into some parenting reading soon.

This month I finished Summer People and Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand, and I’ve started on What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  Although now I can’t find it and it’s a Library book so… blah.

On our TV– I have been (as per usual) DVR-ing Chopped, Restaurant Impossible and The Next Iron Chef Redemption (Who are you rooting for?  I can’t decide between Alex guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag) And I haven’t watched last nights episode so if one of them goes home don’t tell me)

Also, we have been rapidly catching up on Once Upon a Time, this is the reason I chopped all my hair off, I truly feel as though it was a God thing.  Yes, I’m still loving the pixie cut.

On the Blog- The top three posts on the blog this past month were:

The one where I cut my hair (and get so much out of it) – I never knew so many people would care about my hair.  You guys made me burst on the inside.

The Thanksgiving that almost wasn’t (or the one where I get smacked with truth and it hurts)– Thank you all so much for sharing your Thanksgiving stories and being honest about where you are with gratitude.

Kid Questions, Suicide & railing against a WalMart Christmas– “May we be the ones who rail, RAIL against the thief that comes to steal and destroy the Christmas God’s trying to give us.”

In my headphones– I’m not very much fun on music this month, it’s been too insane around here to hunt for new tunes.  So I’ve been re-listening to “Some Nights” by Fun because it feels like a battle cry of sorts and “Babel” by Mumford and Sons.

We’ve also been rocking SortaCrunchy’s Christmas Music List on Spotify

On my crochet hook- I am working on a time consuming, yet gorgeous, bobble scarf as a Christmas gift, but since this month has brought precious little down time, it isn’t growing as I’d like it to.

Christmas corners around the Casa.

Christmas corners around the Casa.

 Around Our Home– I’ve spent the past few weeks getting ready for Christmas, here are a few of my favorite nooks and crannies from top to bottom, left to right.

First our Christmas tree grove, all lit up and lovely.

Secondly the newly hung antique mirror and window that I salvaged which is being used to showcase my new Christmas wreath.

Then there’s my stovetop potpourri, which can be found here and should be made immediately.

Finally, candlelight, wine and ornaments displayed in milk glass.  Enough said.

Alright, that’s what I’ve been into, what about you?

Thieves and Curve Balls (A Guest Post by Sarah Crisp)

Today I’m honored to host a guest post by my new friend Sarah Crisp.  Sarah is a  wife, mom, pianist, blogger, and writer from my former home, Kentucky.

Sarah has a gorgeous, two part story to share about the tender and painful journey of loss from being the victim of a robbery.  I hope that you tune in here and then head over to her site to finish it up!

I never thought I would attest to understanding in full the verse that says, “Do not store up treasures on earth where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19).” It’s not something I was even worried about or prepared for.

So often, life takes a curve ball.

March 2009

March 2012

My husband and I are big time University of Kentucky basketball fans. We started early in our marriage going to games together and every spring going to the SEC basketball conference. It gave us an excuse to go somewhere different and root on our team.

In March 2009, we were very excited to be going to Tampa, Florida. We made extra plans to visit Bryan’s sister and her family in Fair Hope, Alabama prior to going to Tampa. In Dave Ramsey fashion, we had our trip money via cash. All that was left was to drop off our Collie at a friend’s house who would keep him while we were gone.

When we returned from dropping off our dog we came home ready to leave.

“Did you take the money from the table?”

“What money”, I asked?

“The money for our trip”, my husband said with a please say you took it tone.

When we left we noticed our teenage neighbor watching us leave. She was as usual up to no good. It didn’t take us long to realize we were victims of a robbery.

We were scared to leave, and yet so scared not to leave. Our entire trip had been planned and we had looked so forward to the week ahead.

Tampa Florida 2009

We decided to go. We tried to make the best of our trip but the thought of what happened did loom over our very long drive to Alabama.

We returned from our trip and life went on. We were cautious about our neighbor, but we had no evidence to convict her. The cops that had visited the day of the robbery were unable to get any fingerprints. If only I hadn’t touched the door handle he said.

We tried to dwell on the blessings God gave us. It was only money that was taken, not any personal items.

Telling my family I would be a Mother on Mother’s Day 2009 (Sarah and her Mother-in-law, Annelle)

The months that would pass were filled with great joy finding out I was pregnant. Something I didn’t think was even possible. The robbery was behind us.

In mid July of the same year, I was in a hurry running late for a Bible study. I got a couple miles down the road and realized I had left my phone at home. I had this wash of worry about going back home to get it. I can’t really describe it. I insisted on instead getting to the Bible study.

When I arrived home around 9 pm I couldn’t find my phone which I distinctively remember leaving it charged in the kitchen. I glanced at the sofa where I had left my laptop and noticed it was gone as well.

I knew it had happened again.

Please read Part two to this post for the surprising ending.

What curve balls have you experienced in your own life, that you weren’t prepared for?