Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why My Christmas Tree Has No Theme

I like things with character...personality.  It's hard to explain but I'm the kind of person that loves mismatched forks and spoons because there's just something about things like that that makes a house feel like a home. It's as if things that are too perfect feel stiff to me.  It's something I've yet to figure out how to explain in a way that makes someone get exactly what I mean, but it is just a feeling I've always had (one that my husband appreciates very much and indulges by adding to my mismatched silverware on occasion ;).

When I was a little girl, I would sit and dream about my future Christmas tree.  I hated the plain ball-shaped ornaments, especially the kind made out of thread (yep, we had those and they always unraveled and got tangled in EVERYTHING). They were so...generic.  Like they could be anybody's Christmas ornaments. And there were dozens of the exact same one, which I found very boring.

I loved ornaments that had meaning...special memories behind them.  But even if they didn't have specific memories, I at least liked unique ones. I won my mom over to this way of thinking slowly.  I made or bought my family members ornaments as presents each year.  And each year when we pulled out the Christmas decorations, less and less of the plain balls made it on the tree (the string ones are now so rare that you have to dig deep into the left-over newspaper that we use to pack away ornaments to even chance finding one).  We made a habit of reminiscing as we pulled out our eclectic assortment of decorations:  a cross-stitched snowman I'd made in junior high, a glass snowman on ice skates we got at Opryland in 2001, an angel made out of a coke can by one of my Mom's mentally challenged patients, and many many more.  My brother's kindergarten picture inside a felt wreath circa 1985 and a reindeer I made from a clothespin circa 1995 were some of my favorites.  I love this tradition to this day.

I vowed as a child that my tree would have even more memories nestled on its branches someday.  My husband and I have been married since 2011.  Considering that we've only had our own "family tree" for 3 years, I think we're doing well on keeping my childhood promise.  (It definitely helps that my Mom gives me ornaments each year now too ;).

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

The ornament on the left was made for me in high school by a friend.  It was the first decoration given to me to save for my own tree.  I love that my initials have changed since I was given this.  It is a happy reminder of how much I've changed since then.  The one on the right is a relic of the days in which I still had time to wear perfume and make-up.  I was obsessed with the Very Sexy scent by Victoria Secret so my mom got me a mini bottle that came with an ornament one year.  A wonderful reminder of how far I've come in being secure in myself and my body (oh, high school girls!).
I was given these ornaments in college.  I was a Freshman and lived in the Ford Buildings which we at Berry College lovingly called the castles.  Each year, they have a celebration called Christmas in the Castles.  These bring back sweet memories of my first year "on my own" and of all the friends I made there.
These are from 2011, our first Christmas together as a family.  I love the picture on the left of our first dance.  It is beautiful.  It makes my heart and mind go back to that day we became husband and wife.  I'm one lucky woman!  I love the ornament on the right for the exact opposite reason.  This picture is not a professional one but it captures our excitement for our first Christmas as a new family (as well as our love for our furry babies).   It has a "rough around the edges" appeal for me that brings back a lot of memories of those first few months as newly weds.

In 2012 we became a family of three.  I am a mother so of course I will always melt when I see a picture of my newborn baby.  He was so tiny and new this time last year.  It always makes me stop and remember how quickly time flies and that I need to treasure each moment I have with my angel.
And these are this year's additions.  Of course, it is conjecture to say they are some of my favorites but I'm hoping they become that.  That I will look at these ornaments in years to come and remember the fun (and crazy) time that we had making the ornament on the right and marvel at how much our little guy has changed since our family picture on the left.  I hope I always remember this wonderful month of December in which I got to play stay-at-home mom and how much I loved it!

I understand that my tree will never be featured in Better Homes and Gardens for having some amazing theme but honestly, even though many of these "perfect" trees are beautiful, they aren't my style.  A tree is a beautiful display of a family in my opinion.  It should be filled with character and memories.  I can't wait until my kid(s) can make their own ornaments to add!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Not So Picture Perfect

This is our family picture for our Christmas card this year.  We look happy, smiley, together, and in my opinion, the cutest little family I have ever seen. I love this picture!  Don't get me wrong, I am blessed with the two best guys out there!  But, believe me, we are in no way as perfect as this picture seems to suggest.  Last night reminds me of the truth that we never know what lies behind the pictures we see on blogs and social media.  People aren't as picture perfect as they seem so there's no use feeling like you don't measure up!

I was thinking about this as my husband and I tried to address and stuff the almost 30 Christmas cards of this picture to our friends and family (and this was the shortened list because I knew this would be no easy task).  My husband, always the letter writer in the family, was meanwhile hand-writing short notes to each of his aunts and uncles.  It sounds like a magical night during the Christmas season.  Mommy, Daddy, baby boy and holiday traditions (and don't forget the beautiful picture on the cards!).

In actuality, the scene was anything but picture perfect.

My son, in between pulling my hair and attempting to prevent me completely from writing, scattered an entire bag of Christmas candy across the living room and threw each and every item (envelopes, cards, paper, stamps, return address labels, my list) from the coffee table to the floor (multiple times).  Every few seconds my husband or I seemed to throw out a half-hearted "don't eat that!" "that's not yours, Liam; put it back" "there's no reason to whine" "play with one of your toys" or "let Mommy write, PLEASE."

We barely managed to address and label 3/4 of them (which became my goal for the night part-way through because one can only handle so much crying!).  There was no drool or serious folds in any of them (who knew that could feel like such an accomplishment?). Liam had multiple tantrums/crying fits and there was snot running down his face by the end of it.

I really wish I had a picture of our living room and his face.  It was in stark contrast to the pictures we sent out today, but, you know what?  I wish I had a picture not only because it would be fun to share it with you, but also because that is a memory I know I will cherish (and laugh about) someday with my husband.  "Remember that time when Liam was one and we tried to get our Christmas cards together just a bit too close to his bedtime?"

That memory isn't quite as pretty as the card we sent out, but isn't real life better anyway?

This hits home for me because I often find myself comparing myself to other moms.  Craftier moms, ones that make pancakes in the shape of snowmen and a sandwich that looks like Rudolf.  But, you know what?  There's more to every story than what we see on blogs, Facebook, and Pinterest.  We don't know what's behind all those pictures.

I want to challenge us mothers to be real with each other. That's how we can best help each other through this crazy beautiful mess called motherhood.

Parenting is messy, stinky, slobbery, urine-soaked, snot-covered, and in general, just not picture perfect.  But it is beautiful, fulfilling, heart-warming, love-filled, kiss-covered, and snuggly.  Now, tell me, what could be better than reality???