Monday, December 31, 2007

Attack of the Killer Christmas Tree

My Most Beautimous Tree

So last Wednesday, as we sat sobbing over the dramatic ending to South Pacific (a present from my Hubs), I glance over at said husband and realize that our Christmas tree was in the process of falling on his head! Needless to say, I screamed. He reached out and caught the tree. My mother dove to the other side to hold up the rest of the tree, while the rest of us proceeded to pick up the several broken glass ornaments and pull the rest of the ornaments unceremoniously off my beautiful tree! And so, my Christmas tree is down and packed away already; although, I do have my other decorations still up. I have been very sad about this, as I love decorating for Christmas and try to enjoy my tree and all the other decorations for as long as possible (within decency!). I was planning on enjoying several more weeks with said tree...but, alas, that shall not be.

Taking down the tree after it's suicidal dive from the stand.

Drowning my sorrows in a bottle of Martinelli's.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas: Family or Gifts?

Merry Christmas one and all. I hope you each had as much fun as we did.

Christmas Eve we had a friend over who works with me whose family is across the country and across the world. We had a fun evening of game playing and fellowship and corrupting her by teaching her to play one of my famiy's favorite games, Hand and Foot (a variation on Canasta for those who are unfamiliar with the game).

Christmas day, we had a big breakfast and then spent the morning getting ready for Christmas dinner and playing games while waiting for my brother and sister-in-law to drive in from her parents family (several hours away). We had a good British meal – roast and Yorkshire pudding – and then sang Christmas carols, read the Christmas story, and prayed as a family (these moments have always been my most favorite growing up – as long as those three things, or even just the reading and prayer time, occur, I have had Christmas)! Following that was presents and then more games ("dictionary" this year – my favorite word/made-up definition – “mummichug” – a Tibetan dance done by pregnant women!).

In my normal, daily life, I find it relatively easy - most of the time - to enjoy my life as it is, even with my parents half a world away. However, holidays away from my family are always the hardest time for me - as they are for most people - and so when I can actually be with them at Christmas, I could go without a single present because their presence is enough. However, not only did we get to be together, but we also did the great present exchange – much fun!

I love giving presents. Well, let me qualify that. I love giving presents to people who don't judge the value of the gift but accept the concept of what a gift is as being the most important. Growing up in a culture where one didn't even open a gift from someone else in front of that person because one does not want to betray even the slightest flicker of disappointment or ingratitude, I have learned the lesson that what a gift is does not matter (and trust me, I - and my family - have gotten some weird gifts over the years!); what does matter is that someone else thought of you and took the time to find/make something they thought you might like. And that is all that matters.

Now, I just know there are people out there who will twist around a concept like that and say then that "because you like writing, I could give you one sheet of piece of paper then and you should like it and that should be enough since that's all that matters." Obviously, though, if that individual's attitude was simply to prove a point, they would be approaching the whole gift-giving concept with the wrong attitude, which kills the whole concept. And that poisonous attitude is what can ruin presents (both giving and receiving).

In my personal opinion, if I had a friend give me a plain three-ring binder filled with blank paper which cost them maybe three dollars total because they knew that I enjoy writing and that I despise perfect-bound notebooks but can only write in spiral bound ones, or even if they gave me a perfect-bound notebook because they didn't know my insane writing preferences but knew I liked to write, that is an act of love. If someone spent $200 on me and bought me all sorts of stuff – maybe even stuff I wanted – and yet they were ungracious or unloving in their attitude towards me or my life the rest of the year, that “stuff” would become just that – “stuff” from someone who has a bad attitude – and therefore meaningless. I’ve even run into a situation where one individual is really good at buying gifts – just a talent that person has – but she is so critical of what others give her, that I have become paranoid and disgusted about the concept of exchanging gifts with her because it’s lost the fun aspect, the love aspect.

Fortunately, we did not have to deal with such attitudes this year, and so the time of presents was sweet not for all the presents but for the love shown through them.

And that is my Christmas summary and gift-giving rant.

I take family love over gifts any day!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Garage Doors, Christmas Parties, Anniversaries, and Family "Fun"

Where does time go? I suppose if I could answer that question, I would be a millionaire, and yet I look at all that has happened the last few weeks and how little I have even been on my lovely blog, and I am bewildered by the disappearance of time.

Garage Doors
Shortly after I wrote my previous blog, our newest crazy thing happened. My dear husband went out to his car to go to work, and the garage door would not open. That was three weeks ago. We still have no idea what is wrong with the door, and quite frankly, we’re half-tempted to just leave it permanently because maybe nothing else will happen if we just leave this broken! Sigh. What else can I say?!

Christmas Parties
Ugly Tree was the first party of the season for us. We held our annual Ugly Tree Christmas party on December the 8th. For those of you who have never heard of the delightful Ugly Tree, let me give you a brief explanation. Essentially, my best friend and I have hosted a party together for the last four years in which everyone buys the ugliest tree ornament they can find. These get hung (secretly) on two of the world’s most hideous fake trees (see pictures below) then we all vote (by secret ballot of course)on whose ornament is the ugliest. Whoever wins gets a cash pool to which we all contribute, all the ugly ornaments, and the honor of baby-sitting the two ugly trees until next year’s party. Basically, it’s an excuse to have a Christmas party with a fun theme.

I about killed myself to get the house decorated in time for the party, but I did it, and it’s pretty and happy and we had a lot of fun. The week of the party, Monday and Tuesday (Monday being the day the garage door broke) I had a bunch of paper-work type stuff I had to take care of the evenings. Once we finally got that done, I had two nights to get the house decorated. The Friday before the party was my brother’s 30th birthday. And, it was also my sister’s Christmas concert. So we were out late enjoying the concert (minus one very annoying photographer who had the world’s brightest flash and seemed determine to cause seizures in the audience with his incessant picture taking) and then celebrating my brother’s birthday. Saturday morning of the party, I had to finish cleaning, finish last minute decorating, and it was the Saturday for Social Suppers – so I had to go do that in the morning! However, Amber came over in the afternoon, and we had all the food prepped and everything ready to go a good hour plus before the party! We were so proud of ourselves J

The other parties have included a dinner with two good friends of ours, my work party, and Chris’ work party. Needless to say, we’ve been busy. My Mum was able to come with us to a couple of those, which was nice. I think one of the hardest things about being so far apart from my parents is that it’s hard, sometimes, to picture normal life for them (or them for us) because we often don’t see or know any of these places. Getting a physical picture of people and places is helpful in feeling a little less disconnected.

Our anniversary was last week. As my parents had just got into town around this time, we didn’t actually do a whole lot in the way of celebrating. However, we’re going to St Louis in January for a few days, and that will be our actual celebration. We have been married six years. It just doesn’t feel that long. Either way, we’re excited to be moving into our seventh year of marriage. I can’t imagine living my life with any other person. And that’s a good thing J

Fun Family Fun
Well, the good part of family has been that my parents are now with us and will be here until after the new year. It’s been so good to see them again; I hadn’t seen my Mum for a year and a half, and I hadn’t seen my Dad since August. My sister is also staying with us (she gets kicked out of the dorms at Christmas), and since my brother and sister-in-law only live a short distance from us, we’ve got a full house most of the time! And I loves it!

Fruitless Family “Fun”
The bad part has been that Chris’ father took it upon himself to contact us again, via a letter. We are not answering this letter because there is really nothing that could be said. How do you respond to someone who is so willing to twist truth and blatantly ignore or block out everything that is said to them? I have shed so many tears the last few months over all of this (particularly over the pain I see my husband in), I sometimes wonder if I will ever will be able to cry again. And yet, I know, despite all of the negativity and horrendous stress of the last few months, God is doing something good in our lives.

I’m not a big New Years resolution person. In fact, I find them somewhat obnoxious. But, truthfully, this year, Chris and I have set quite a few. We have had to learn some harsh lessons this year, ones that in the long run will change the shape of our lives – for the better, I believe. But they have still been painful. These lessons are giving us some new goals we want to focus on in the next year(s) because we have to do something. And at this point, that something doesn’t seem to be capable of involving his family.

We’re not happy about this. But how long do you beat your head against a brick wall before you realize that you’re going to kill yourself if you don’t quit?

So, that is the latest in this drama that used to be my everyday, commonplace life.

God bless you all and MERRY CHRISTMAS! Because, despite all, we still have thousands of reasons to rejoice, not least of which is the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...