Twinkly Trees and Traditions

Last night I drove down my street towards my home at the end of it, and I noticed tree lights in a window.  Happy yellow-white glowing twinkle lights.  My spirit responded with a standing ovation, claps and cheers included.

Then I broke out of my mental auto-pilot and realized they were my happy lights.

I write this to you in case you happen to wander past and see the twinkle lights shining through the front window of my house.  I write this so you don’t wonder as my neighbors and even some of the folks who abide with me do–just why is the Christmas tree still up?

I wasn’t raised this way for sure.  The same Mama who didn’t do laundry on New Year’s Day or let us wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day made sure our tree and Christmas decorations were down by New Year’s Eve.  I think there was some line of thinking that carrying them into the New Year was bad luck.  Also, our trees from my Granny’s woods were usually shedding and in dire need to go to the high grass at the back of our property to live out their next life as a bunny habitat.  (I refuse to entertain the idea that snakes found joy in our old trees.  Because SNAKES. No ma’am.)

Then I married into a tradition of keeping the tree up until Epiphany, January 6th.  I liked this and had no problem embracing it after the first year or two of feeling slightly uncomfortable and apologetic.  The only problem was that January 6th only fell on the weekend a couple of years out of six or seven, so it was rarely the 6th when we actually took it down.  I remember attending a “Tearing Down Christmas” party once, and I thought it was brilliant.  It was after Christmas when folks were more relaxed, but she still had her home beautifully decorated.  It was the last hoorah before she put everything away.  I have yet to host such a celebration, but it’s still something I really hope to do one year.

This year things have been different.  There’s been a different feel in the air since October. I was looking at a milestone birthday in November, so maybe that’s why I missed Mama and Daddy so much–things were just different.  The month of November and first half of December flew by–with all my people taking turns having the cold crud that went through everyone we knew, with celebrations, having Thanksgiving at home (due to aforementioned crud), and three shows in a sixteen day period.  All wonderful things, but time passed quickly.  We always go tree hunting as a family.  With our oldest in law school and folks sick on Thanksgiving weekend, it was the 16th of December before we could actually make the hunting happen.

During this time I struggled with the idea of finally getting an artificial tree.  The only other time we haven’t had a real one was when we were living in Japan for those two Christmases.  I have wonderful memories of the tree hunts of my childhood.  Like other things I loved that I’ve not been able to share with my children, it was hard to let this go. Still, I felt like it was time.  With an artificial tree, we could put it up whenever we wanted–never mind if someone was sick or not.  And it could be decorated at leisure when my law student could come home.

Because as lovely as the ornaments are and as much as I love the stories behind each and every one (and if you have a month or two, I’ll tell you each one), it’s the lights, y’all.  It’s the lights that lift my spirits and give the room a glow like no bit of sunlight can.

Those lights create magic.

Lovely twinkling magic.

So I could tell you that it’s still up because my tree only went up on the 17th.  Or I could tell you that it’s because it’s artificial and I don’t have to worry about needles falling or fire hazards.  Or I could tell you that we just haven’t had the time, what with having wonderful family from out of state here with us after Christmas.

And while those things might be true to some degree–those are not the reasons why.

During these darkest days of the year, that tree with its little non-LED lights has given me hope.  It has been the light that draws my soul towards it and that hope like a moth to the moon.  The magic that I saw so brilliantly in the wee hours of Christmas morning before I retired for a few hours’ slumber remains.  It whispers to me–“All will be well, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

There is promise. The sun, the warmth, the days will lengthen.   The light will return.

But until then, I find joy and peace in the twinkling lights that someone in a warehouse somewhere painstakingly attached to my faux tree.  Bless them and bless that peace that surrounds me every time my eyes land on that luminous evergreen.

And bless all of you.  I hope that when you find something that brings you joy and peace and puts magic into your world, making your heart sing, that you will hang on to it too.  Some years are like that.  Some years we just need to keep those trees up.

And that’s okay.

Love  and twinkly lights to all.

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Rockin’ Around the Tree

Sharing just a few of the precious memories hanging on our tree…..

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A little porcelain doll that has hung on our trees for over fifteen years

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A snowman from my Aunt D I got so many years ago…..I’ve always loved him.  He spins!

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A gift from one of our favorite organizations doing amazing things–Bead for Life

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This little sweetheart was a wedding gift thirteen years ago from a very precious family.

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We have a few from our favorite movies.  Thankful we are.

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Hallelujah–the lights are all on! My decorating can’t hold a candle to Clark Griswold’s.

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There are ornaments reminding us of big moments or favorite things from that year.  (Marilyn and guitar–guess which one of my people these belong to?)

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There are ornaments to remind us of big life events….

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and ever so adorably small.

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We have ones that remind us of places we have lived.  (Yes, we have cute little sumo wrestlers from Japan on our tree.) 

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And we have ones that remind us of happy days with people we love and miss.  We gave this ornament to my Mama many years ago.  She loved Winnie the Pooh.  Now it hangs on our tree, and we find joy in the memories.  

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And we have sweet homemade ornaments that remind us of the Love and Light of the season. 

Tonight as I gaze at the lights and memories on our tree, I give thanks for the quiet and all of the memories that come flooding back in a rush.  So much love on one precious tree.

Love to all.

Christmas Lights and Marital Bliss

Today we finally got the lights on the tree.  We’ve had a time of trying to find time to actually go tree hunting, what with the Fella being gone, and Aub having finals and papers and all the things due this week, and all the things the littles do. And once we got the tree up, we had a time finding our lights we had stored away.  But today.   We got it done.

As I was wrapping the tree in light, listening to the best Christmas music, I found myself smiling.  Growing up, once I was old enough, it was my job to put the lights on the tree.  Every year. I suppose my parents weren’t as OCD about it as I am or maybe they didn’t enjoy being poked and scratched by those cedar trees.  Whatever the reason, it was my job, and I became pretty good at it, if I do say so myself as shouldn’t.

After the Fella and I married, he was the one who put the tree in the stand and got the lights on it, and I supervised the hanging of the ornaments with the littles.

It wasn’t easy, y’all.  I’d find myself going back and tucking a strand here or there, trying to rearrange it without anyone noticing, much like my Mama used to go behind us in loading the dishwasher.  Just a little thing here or there.  Nothing major.

Then came the year of the LED lights. I don’t know if y’all will recall this, but those things are the bane of my existence this time of year.  The blue-white ones hurt my eyes and the yellow-white ones just don’t look quite right to me.  Now if you like ’em, I’m happy for you, really I am, but for me, I just can’t.  Give me the old-fashioned yellow-white twinkle lights and let me load a tree up.  The year of the LED lights, I’d just about had enough.  I can’t recall, ahem, all what happened, but I do remember that the next year the Fella went out and bought me those twinkle lights I love, and I was the one to put them on the tree.  The LED lights we have are put on the bushes and trees outside, and all is well.

In just a couple of days, my Fella and I will celebrate thirteen years since we stood around the fountain at my alma mater and said our “I do’s.” While Christmas lights weren’t in the list, I’m pretty sure they could fall under our promise to love each other in good times and bad, in sickness (ahem) and health.  In fact, I’m fairly certain, that in 37 years, when we are celebrating our Golden Anniversary, when folks ask us, “So what’s the secret?  How’d you manage to make it this long?” my answer will be the same as it is now.

“Christmas lights. He buys the ones I like. I string ’em up.”

I mean, it’s brought us marital bliss this far.

May the lights in your life bring you all the joy today and everyday.

Love to all.

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Hmmmm, now that I look at it, it might could use another strand around that spot on the bottom…..good thing the Fella got an extra.  

 

 

 

An Anniversary, ee cummings, and Christmas

December 17, 1967.

It was forty-seven years ago that my parents said their I do’s and joined their lives forever.   With close friends and family present, and Mama’s best friend from school and my Daddy’s Daddy standing up beside them, they joined hands and hearts and stories.

Forever.

I’m convinced they are up at the House sitting on the back porch, side by side.  Mama will reach out her hand as they watch the beautiful sunset and Daddy will take it.  And though it might be quiet between them, they love each other more than any two people I’ve ever met.

They loved children–their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.  They loved all children.  They kept copies of “Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm” by the Provensens in the trunk of their car to give to children or parents they met whom they thought might enjoy reading it.  Daddy sometimes carried Matchbox cars in his pockets to share with little boys and girls he came across, especially at the doctor’s offices.  When he left this world, he left quite a few he’d collected yet to be shared.  He loved cars and children just that much.

The last few years before Mama passed, she enjoyed picking out Christmas or winter stories for the children in her life. Last year, our first Christmas without her, I decided to carry on that tradition–the picking out of the holiday story.

I really enjoyed myself, and I was so happy when I found the right book and felt like Mama was there, giving my choice a thumbs up.  (Patricia Polacco’s “Uncle Vova’s Tree”)

This year I started earlier, reading and searching for just the right book.  I found several good ones.  My crew have really enjoyed the daily readings in “The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Christmas Story for Advent.”  But what one story would wrap up all the joy and delight and emotions of this Christmas season?

This past weekend I found out that my Aub, home from college, has a newfound love of ee cummings.  Sunday evening I took a few minutes to reacquaint myself with his poetry.  As I was reading some of his work, I found one he wrote called “Little Tree,” which has been published more than once as a children’s story.  I found a copy illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, and it called out to me.

Could it be?  Could this be the book for this year?

My copy arrived today.

I had already read the poem, and it touched my heart, but when put together with Ms. Ray’s warm and whimsical illustrations, it became a new favorite.

Just like that.

The littles and I read it together.  When we finished, they both sat still for a moment.  I asked if they liked it.  Both nodded.  Our Princess said, “It’s really almost like a Christmas poem, isn’t it?  It’s so beautiful.”

Yes.  Yes it is, as a matter of fact.  On both accounts.

We hunted for our Christmas trees in the woods on my Granny’s farm most of the years I was growing up.  Such great memories of beautiful afternoons wandering around, finding one we liked, but continuing on just to be sure. And then trying to find our way back to the one we’d chosen at the very beginning.  Daddy was so patient with us.  We never chose the “perfect” trees as there was an unspoken understanding that those belonged to the animals and the woods.  (Well, maybe I did speak it a time or two when someone dared to suggest us getting that perfect one.)  We usually looked for the ones that the deer had rubbed their antlers on.  Daddy taught us how to look for those trees, and he told us there was a chance that those wouldn’t make it.  So we chose one of those each year–we called them corner trees, which was perfect since we always put our tree in the corner of our living room.

Perfectly imperfect.  And every year Mama would say it was the prettiest tree yet.

That made me happy.  And I was quite sure it made the tree happy too.  Daddy taught me the word anthropomorphism many years ago, and it suits me.  I like to think that the trees have feelings and are happy or sad to be chosen or not.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons that ee cummings’ poem spoke to me.  I’m sure it was, but when I read the line–“and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy”–my heart was home.

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from “Little Tree” by ee cummings and Deborah Kogan Ray

 

Yes.

This beautiful book will find its way onto our shelf after the 12 days of Christmas, but it won’t be forgotten throughout the year.  This timeless poem turned children’s book is one that can bring back memories whenever it is opened and read. It is too lovely to be tucked away for very long, dreaming of when it might be able to share its story once again.

Tonight I’m thankful for this story I found (thanks Aub!) which brought back memories that were such a big part of my Christmas each year.  Those tree hunts with Daddy were a tradition I love and dearly miss.  I am also thankful for the story that began 47 years ago tonight, celebrated after all had gone home over cups of warm Pepsi, because they had heard it was so good.  I give thanks for the two who loved us and taught us and encouraged us.  And I’m thankful for their love of books and generous spirits.  They left some mighty big shoes to fill.  While I cannot fill those shoes myself, I can walk along the path they left, and do my best to live up to whom they raised me to be.

Happy Anniversary to my parents, and Happy Everyday, as my Mama would say, to everyone!

May today be a day that you will always remember joyfully in the years to come.

Love to all.

 

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I will be giving away a copy of the book “Little Tree” by ee cummings to a lucky reader.  The winner will be chosen randomly at 12:01 a.m. EST on December 18th.  To enter, comment below with your favorite Christmas book or like the “I Might Need a Nap” Facebook page and comment on this post on that page.  For handwriting practice for the week I will have the littles write your names down, put them in a hat, and we’ll let Miss Sophie draw out the name.  I will send the book out to the winner on Thursday, and it should arrive before Christmas, barring anything unforeseen happening.  Good luck!  Only one entry per person please.  

More of the story of the two who became one can be read here.

Guest Post: Miss Sophie Writes…..

A note from the paws of Miss Sophie:

Miss Sophie Ru

Miss Sophie Ru

These people, I sure have a hard time figuring them out sometimes.  They know my name, and yet, they call me “No” and “Stop It” almost more than they call me Sophie.

And it’s not like I picked out that name for myself or anything–they chose it.  If I’d had my druthers I would be called Geraldine.  Yeah.  I like that name.

Anyway, yesterday they said, “Bed,” and I went and they gave me my treat on command.  I’ve got them trained well.  When I sit in my bed, I wait, and they give me a treat.  It’s a pretty sweet deal actually.  They left for a few hours and when they came home, I could hardly believe my eyes.

And I have pretty good vision.

The people brought a tree in the house.  You know, one of those things that lives outside that I like to sniff around and eat things out from under?  In. the. house.  Well!  I mean, these are the same folks who take their shoes off in the house and flip out if I go anywhere near the mud puddles way back in the yard behind our house.

I don’t get it.

It immediately started shedding, something I can proudly say I do not do.  It was pretty disgusting.  The Fella promptly vacuumed it up.  I actually chose not to bark while he was vacuuming this time, and the people didn’t notice or anything.  Really?  Fine.  Next time then…..

After all of the hullabaloo about getting this tree in the house, I watched as the Fella brought in a big box of things on the ends of green wire.  (I like green wire.  I like wire.  Twist ties are my favorite, but they never let me play with one for long.)  They spent much time discussing these things and untangling them.  It was torture.  They did all of this beside the tree which they put in the room I’m not allowed in.  Honestly, you mistake a rug for a piddle pad once or three times too many…..

After things were untwisted, the people talked some more.  The one they all call Mama, the one who sits up with me late at night, kept saying the letters, “LED” over and over and wrinkling up her nose like she does when she tells me my toy is “nasty.” (It’s not, it’s delicious.)  I don’t think she cares for whatever that LED thing is.  The Fella took several of those strand thingies outside and the littles went with him.  Then the one they call Mama twisted the rest of the wire thingies all around that tree.

Can you imagine what that’s even about?

When she was done, she stood back and then flipped a switch.

Wow.

They’ve been doing some pretty crazy things around here, like putting some lights in different places and putting these red and green things all over the place, but this was amazing.

It was all lit up, that tree, only there was no fire like what the one they call Mama turns on in the living room at night.  These were all sparkly and warm and I wanted to crawl right under that tree, drink from that big water bowl, and gaze up at the twinkly lights.    And look for treats…..

Tonight they went through a box, each one of them, and they hung things on the tree.  It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.

That tree--INSIDE the house with lights all over it!  Have you ever heard of such?

That tree–INSIDE the house with lights all over it! Have you ever heard of such?

And they won’t let me anywhere near it.  I can’t imagine why.

They keep me away from everything fun–the trash can, the mud puddles, and now this–this tree.

I just don’t get it.

But tonight I’m thankful my people are back home and that it looks like we’re going to bed a little earlier tonight.  I’m thankful for the food in my bowl and the water in my dish, but I still think that tree offers a lovely new eating venue.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the happy faces and the singing of songs that keeps happening around here.  It seems like they are more relaxed these days.  And happy, relaxed people make for a happy Sophie.

Love and barks to all.

 

*Note from Tara: As I was stringing the lights on the tree this morning, I saw Miss Sophie watching intently from the other side of the gate.  I wondered what she thought of all of the goings on, and she was more than happy to share.  Tonight I’m thankful for that.  And for a word my Daddy taught me long, long ago.  Anthropomorphism.  I love that word.   Love to all.  

O Christmas Tree

It has been decided.

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christmas tree farm (Photo credit: The Shifted Librarian)

Tomorrow is Christmas tree hunting day.

We’ve had more to work around this year, it feels like, to make this work.  Between the evening/after Fella gets home schedule and Aub being gone during the week, we have finally circled tomorrow as a day we can all make it happen.

Which brings us to the next decision.

A tree farm, a live tree from the local hardware store, or a Frasier fir from the big name store over near the coffee shop?  They all have their pluses and minuses.

Tree farm–support local business, beautiful place to hunt, adventure, closer to what I grew up doing, but really expensive.  Depending on the tree, it can be either hard or easy to string lights and hang ornaments on.  Just depends really.  Most of the varieties they’ve had in the recent past were trees with less hardy branches.

Live tree–almost as expensive as the tree farm but we can plant it later, it’s environmentally responsible, natural color (the tree farm sprays theirs–not kidding), but it is harder to string and hang ornaments.

Big name store tree–it’s the least expensive of the three; the adventure aspect isn’t quite there, but it’s been the only place I’ve found a Frasier fir and those are awesome for stringing and hanging.

We’ve done all three.  And while we lived in Japan we had an artificial tree.  This was decided after I viewed the trees on the roof at the BX and saw what I deemed a pitiful offering at three times the price.  So we found an artificial tree.  The whole time I dealt with the tree that California code or whatever that warns of cancer risks when handling the tree and lights and so on kept ringing through my head.  (Yes, I’m a hypochondriac and I own it.)  It was beautiful, held every ornament we had, but I just couldn’t totally embrace it.  The retired Japanese gentlemen who were friends of my Fella’s came over for breakfast around Christmas.  They were fascinated by it and kept asking how many ornaments I thought we had on it.  I had no idea.  It was neat to see them so intrigued though.  Almost everything in Japan has to be done on a much smaller scale because their houses are on a smaller scale.  Our tree would have taken up half of a living room in a normal sized apartment home there, and it wasn’t even that big of a tree.

When we returned from Japan, we went back to the Christmas tree farm I’d visited years before.  One of the Christmases my Fella was deployed, Daddy went with us and helped us cut it down.  Aub and the littles have loved trekking all over trying to find the perfect tree.  It’s just that over the years the price tag has started turning my stomach.  It just broke my heart to pay that much for a tree we would gaze upon for a month, and then it would be gone.

So two years ago, less than a month after Daddy died, my heart just wasn’t in it.  We simplified Christmas. I didn’t pull out any ornaments or decorations.  We went to the local hardware store and found an evergreen that was more tall and straight than anything else.  We strung the tender branches with lights, and the children and I made ornaments–homemade cinnamon applesauce ornaments and we painted letters and glued them to rope to spell love and joy.  And that was our precious tree that year.  We planted it out back.  I think it’s a tender fellow still, and very timid, not quite sure if it wants to commit to living here or not.  There have been times I’ve seen brown among the branches and thought, “Well there he goes.”  But then he’ll green back up.  I have no idea.  Just thankful he’s sticking around.

Last year my heart needed Christmas.  The lights, the festivity, the decorations all over the house.  (Our Princess even has a tiny pink tree with glitter she puts in her room.  Gotta love it.)  I brought out things we hadn’t set out in a couple of years.  In the end we decided to go to the big name store because the prices were about 1/3 of what the tree farm was and the live tree selection wasn’t that good at that time.  We made it an adventure as much as we could.  It still took us quite a while to find the one we all could agree on.  In a way we made it the fun time we’d hoped for just with the right attitudes.  And my heart was much lighter as the cashier rang us up.  Yes.  That’s what I was hoping for too.   It was a beautiful Frasier fir, and it held the white lights (I insisted on those myself) and ornaments as long as we wanted it to.  Maybe it got a little dry a little sooner than we’d hoped, but it was a beautiful tree.

And so the discussion continues this year.  I was given the grace I needed today NOT to pull out all the things I have.  I am happy for Christmas to be here, but I just don’t have it in me–physically, emotionally, or energy-wise–to get it all out and pack it back up in a month.  *shudder*  I can’t do that to me this year.  My mind goes back to this past January, helping my Mama pack up her Christmas things, so much simpler than it was years ago, but so much history in it all, and I just want to cry.  So yes, a tree, ornaments and lights, candles, but I think that will be it.  I hope it will be enough for all to feel that Christmas was special this year.

I believe we will probably go “over the river and through the woods” back over to the big name store.  (It’s actually more like drive by the grocery store and past the Waffle House, park next to the coffee shop.)  I love that my family will make it an adventure, and the cashier will make me smile.  It’s what we make it, and it will be okay.  I know too many folks who are in need to spend that much on a tree this year.  Not judging anyone else, just know what feels right for us.

I miss the days when I was growing up.  Oh the joy of the Christmas tree hunt!  My Granny had a good-sized farm with lots of woods divided through the middle with an open area.  We’d visit with Granny for a little while, and then we’d walk around back, past the horse and cow pastures, and head for the woods.  Daddy had all that he needed to get the job done, I especially remember the saw and his gloves.  We’d wander through, and it amazed me we would never get lost.  Daddy’s internal GPS would take us right back up to Granny’s house each and every time.

As we wound our way through the woods, we’d see some of the same cedar trees from year to year.  The perfect ones.  Getting bigger and stronger and taller each year.  Those were off-limits.  We never questioned it.  We knew.  Those were the woods’ Christmas trees.  The ones the animals would gather around on Christmas Eve and share their stories with others there.  We would get excited when Daddy would point out where a deer had been rubbing its antlers against the tree bark.  We called them corner trees because we could put that spot against the wall and it would never show.  Daddy said those trees didn’t have much of a shot of growing much bigger anyway, so we didn’t feel too bad cutting one down.  Finding one of those “deer trees” didn’t mean the hunt was over though.  We still had to walk around, just in case there was a more perfect one over the next hill.

Which is how I met the snake that time.  Daddy must have stepped right over it and never even noticed.  I turned to follow him and there in front of me, curled up asleep (at least I assume it was) was a snake.  What kind, you might ask?  A LIVE ONE, that’s all that mattered to me.  I refused to move another step; I was terrified.  Daddy came back and got me.  He didn’t harm a hair on its head like he did the one we’d found in the horse barn.  We were on its turf.  It’s also very likely it was not a poisonous one, but I didn’t take the time to ask or wait on an answer.  I wanted to be as far away as I could get from it.

Finally we would choose a tree.  As Daddy sawed and cut and moved around, laying flat on his back on the ground beneath the tree, we all clapped and cheered and yelled “Timber” as loud as we could as it fell, our echoes and the resounding thunk of the tree falling to the ground the most beautiful Christmas music of all.  Daddy would grab the tree at the bottom and drag and carry it out of the woods.  I took the hand of whomever was youngest (who had most likely spent some time riding in Daddy’s arms or on his back on the way in) and we walked back to Granny’s house.  I remember the crisp smell of the air and the satisfied and happy song in my heart.  It was about the tree hunt, but it was about so much more.  It was about being with the people I loved more than life itself and being ready to help my Daddy whenever he asked–something that brought me joy right up to the last time I held his glass for him to sip or helped him get in a more comfortable position in his hospital bed.  It was about love.  The tree became a symbol of that.

We did that every year when I was growing up (and after I was out of the house) until Granny moved to town.  The only exception I remember is the year that Daddy was so sick.  I was eleven or twelve I think.  Daddy had been struggling with bad headaches for a while and wasn’t able to take us hunting.  Mama went and bought a little magnolia (or was it a gardenia?!) in a pot and sat it on top of the piano.  She hung a few of our lighter (poor little plant…) ornaments on it, and we called it Christmas.  A stickler for tradition, I am sure I did not make that choice easy on her or Daddy.  I am sitting here right now, remembering looking at it in the beginning through glaring eyes, as though I could make it go away with my stare.  Oh my.  Mama told me years later we were lucky we didn’t lose Daddy then.  Sort of puts that poor little magnolia (or gardenia) into perspective.

So though our trek will be different tomorrow it will be about the same thing.  Love.  And laughter.  There’s always plenty of that to go around with this crew.  We’ll find a good tree I hope, but while I know I loved the way our trees looked each year, and that every year Mama would tell us we’d outdone ourselves and found the best one yet, I also know it’s not about what the tree looks like.  It’s about the memories attached.  And it’s about the children remembering what each ornament reminds them of–who gave it to them or why they got it.  It’s about another year of stringing the lights–that was my job growing up, and the simple action of hooking a hanger on the ornament and handing it to the right child.  (They will tell me if I get it wrong!  Of that I can be certain.)

I hope that your journey this season is filled with love and laughter whether there is a real tree or not, from a tree farm or the market down the road, or no tree at all.  It’s whom we are with that matters most.  But I am curious–real, artificial, pre-cut, cut down your own, Charlie Brown tree, or magnolia bush?  Or none at all?  Where are you this year?

Merry memory-making, my friends!