I don't know about you, but the closer we get to Christmas, the more I feel like quieting down and getting cozy.
Mr. M and I had a big discussion this year about how we were going to get a "real" tree this year. Our "Old Faithful" fake tree that we bought on a whim back in 2006 - the one we threw in the back of the Target shopping cart when Paprika was just three months old...the one that was on clearance for $9 and we said would be our "temporary" tree...well, this year that one just wasn't going to do.
We decided that THIS year we would really step it up. We looked for a place to cut down our own tree (like Mr. M did in his childhood). And if we couldn't find that (which we couldn't without driving two hours), then by golly, we would at least make our way to a Christmas Tree lot.
So, the plan was that on Saturday we would all bundle up in our long sleeved shirts and possibly a hoodie (if the weather dipped below 70 degrees) and brave the winter weather down at the Christmas Tree lot.
But...on Friday night, the girls decided to take matters into their own hands. I had already set up Old Faithful when they were at swimming lessons. And when they got home, their eyes got so big and they said, "This is the MOST beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen. Daddy, wait until we decorate it...you won't want to trade it in for a big tree then."
So, that night Mr. M went out for drinks with his buddies. I was in my room nursing the baby, when I peeked out to discover two-year old Ginger decorating the tree all by herself. All of the decorations were clear across the house in the family room, and she was taking each decoration one by one, and walking all the way across the house to put each one carefully on the tree. By the time I saw her, she had put about two dozen ornaments all along the bottom third of the tree. ;-)
So, I woke up the baby, and all four of us (me, Paprika, Ginger, and the baby) all decorated the tree together. The girls wanted so badly to surprise Mr. M with their amazing tree decorating skills. The whole time we were decorating the tree, they kept saying how they had never seen a tree more beautiful or special, and that when Daddy saw it he would be so proud of them.
Ginger was the director of the whole decoration extravaganza. She was telling us where to put this or that, and it was all very intentional on her part, including the garland only on the top half. Paprika let her do it, and even reached up to put the decorations up high where Ginger couldn't reach. And in the end, have you ever really seen a more beautiful tree? (If so, don't tell the girls!) ;-)
I am sure I don't have to tell you that Old Faithful is here to stay. At least for this year. The girls already have a little tree in their room, and truthfully, our 1200 square foot cottage can't hold much more than two little trees. I like that our girls see this tree with wonder. I like that no matter how many times we move (this is our third house in 5 years), that some things stay the same. I love that Paprika looked at the Christmas lights on this tree her very first Christmas, just as Ginger did two years ago, and now our newest babe does, too, on her very first Christmas.
I love that our girls get bundled up under blankets and ask me to read them stories by the light of their magical tree. And tell me that they will wait right there for Santa and that maybe he'll decide to come early this year.
How could any other tree bring more magic than that? As you might have guessed, we didn't visit a Christmas tree lot the next day. Didn't chop down our own tree. Old Faithful is here to stay.
On Saturday, we bundled up the girls and went for a ride in our own sleigh (you may call it a Toyota Sienna, we're calling it a White Christmas sleigh)...and drove around and looked at Christmas lights. Then we went to the mall and went to the one sit-down restaurant in our neighborhood that you can go to with three kids ages 5 and under...Islands, or "Surfing French Fry Restaurant" (as Paprika calls it).
It was our first night out at a fancy restaurant (as Paprika also called it) since the new baby was born. It went off without a hitch, the girls were so good...mostly. Ginger got her finger caught in the window next to our booth and almost amputated it. She started screaming, then Paprika started crying because she thought that meant we had to leave the restaurant, and all that noise woke up the baby. So there were a few minutes there that were a little less than perfect. But then all quieted down, and we had a great meal, walked through the mall, and got back in the sleigh to oohhhh and ahhhhh over more Christmas lights.
When we were at the mall, we asked the big girls if they wanted to see Santa, and they said no! (There wasn't even a line!) Paprika has never been a fan of those mall Santas. I think she senses something is up with them. Whether it's shyness or what, I don't know. But I don't mind it anyway. The magic of Christmas is so much more than waiting in line at the mall to see a man in a red suit. I think it's little things. Little things like finding the magic in a little bitty Christmas tree...and just being together.