Merry Christmas! And a happy feast of St. Stephen! (We’ll be singing Good King Wenceslaus all day in St. Stephen’s honor.) As I have a few moments before driving off to South Dakota, I thought I’d post a few photos from the last few days.
Now that we live in a forested area, naturally we drove to a Christmas tree farm to hunt down a tree for 2020. In order to do this, however, I broke one of my Advent Rules and blasted the Christmas music from the speakers of my Sweet Ride, for one cannot possibly buy a Christmas tree without listening to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “O Tannenbaum.”
But let me back up. In order to cut and buy a Christmas tree, one has three preparatory things to do first:
Prep the van. As our van does not have a rack on top, we had to remove a row of seats to make room for the biggest pine tree we could possibly find. (Kids will just have to double buckle. There’s no other way.)
Make coffee. Naturally one must prepare a thermos of hot coffee for such a stately endeavor involving hand saws and tree trimmers and loud, ecstatically excited children.
Get the Christmas music playlist ready to blast in the van, as I already mentioned.
After accomplishing the above, we were off, singing gleefully, for it was a joyous occasion. The children had great fun running around, sizing up all the pine trees and pointing them out to each other. I ambled behind and snapped a few photos for fun, which I’ll post below, but not before I mention something a friend had said to me a few days ago, as I was expressing my sadness in killing a live tree, which we do every year…and will continue to do…
She said, “Kim, Christmas trees are meant to be a living sacrifice to God. We give Him our best. We pick out the most beautiful offering, pay for it, and kill it. Christmas trees are sacrifices and gifts to God in thanksgiving for His Son. So quit feeling bad about it.”
Yes, you are right, dear friend.
As I likely won’t write anything for a week or so, Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!
Advent begins this Sunday. Have you thought about it yet? I have, and I’ve come up with a few things I won’t be doing. Next week, I hope to put together a list of things I will be doing for those of you who might be curious.
But for today…
8 Things I’m NOT Doing This Advent
I’m not doing a Jesse Tree. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I had a Jesse Tree, and the children colored paper ornaments and cut them out and decorated a dead tree branch. They had a lot of fun. This year? Nope. The Bible will have to do for making those lovely Old Testament stories come alive.
I also will not have an Advent Calendar filled with chocolates marking out the liturgical season. This is because I’d rather spend that $3.99 on a cappuccino. I guess, our 2020 “Drinking With the Monks” wall calendar from Tan Publishing will have to do.
3. I’m not going to make a single cookie during Advent. I restrained myself last year, too, and it was freeing. We will, however, make cookies during the Christmas octave and eat as many as we choose, while we lick the bowl and fight for the spatula. I do sympathize with those individuals, however, who make their cookies during Advent and freeze them for Christmas. This is laudable–and penitential too, if one doesn’t eat the cookie dough or the cookies until December 25. Oy.
4. I don’t have my box of Advent books out yet; it’s still tucked away in the storage room. I’ve just been too lazy tired to actually walk down the stairs, turn a corner, open a door, and get it. I’m really hoping that I’ll find the motivation to do so, at least by December 24th. We do have some good ones. So this one probably shouldn’t be on my list of “Things I’m Not Doing This Advent.” Rather this one should be on my list of “Things I Should Get Going On By Sunday.”
5. There is no Elf on my shelf. Nor has there ever been. I understand this is a fun thing for some children, but mine will have to be satisfied with Mary and Joseph traveling around the house, making their way to our nativity set, which I hope to get out soon with that box of Advent books…
6. I’m not going to listen to Christmas music this Advent. Maybe. Goodness, this is such a hard one for me. I love Christmas music so much that it isn’t uncommon for me to blast it any time of the year. Just ask my children. Who doesn’t love a little “Sleigh Ride” in July? This year, however, it’ll be “Advent at Ephesus” with the Benedictines of Mary.
7. I’m not going to buy a ton of Christmas gifts, which you already know about. (See HERE for my Christmas Shopping post.) We’ve been scaling back over the years, as we’ve found that less is more, and it teaches the children gratitude.
8. I’m not decorating for Christmas during Advent. This one is easy to not do for the obvious reason that I don’t have to do anything. We stopped decorating for Christmas during Advent a long time ago. Instead it’s become a family tradition to buy our Christmas tree the last possible minute and decorate it and the rest of our house on Christmas Eve, and I can’t tell you how much fun we have! So I’m not really worried about this one.
This time, however, we’re not just hopping across a river and strolling down the road a few miles. Nope, we’re trekking across the state, skipping over Minnesota, and landing in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where my husband will begin a new job at the end of January.
We’re very excited about this move for a few reasons:
La Crosse puts us within about 70 miles of Rochester, MN, where our son doctors. This will be a tremendous relief for us, should we need to race to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night again. (God forbid.)
La Crosse, as you perceptive readers may have noticed, has gorgeous churches, complete with Traditional Latin Masses every single Sunday. As this is what our hearts long for, we are truly delighted and grateful for this opportunity.
My husband is very pleased too with his new job. It looks to be just what we need.
And…it’s warmer in Wisconsin! And the sun shines more. Not kidding. My husband looked it up. Any move closer to the equator is a Serious Plus.
There are a few downsides to moving south (and east), however.
We will be leaving behind family and friends. This will not be easy, and it does tear our hearts. We have been so blessed over the years with devoted grandparents and caring friends. We thank God for them every day.
It will also be terrible to leave the prairie for a forest. How does one see the weather coming in Wisconsin? My goodness, I’ll have to actually look at a Weather App.
My husband has frequently commented that he’ll miss his boss and coworkers. His boss in particular is a good man–a man he looks up to. He will be awfully hard to replace.
In any case, though, God has clearly made His will known to us, and we are happy to move. Wisconsin, here we come!
And we did the unthinkable…
Due to the impending move, we did the unthinkable and put the Christmas tree up early. Yes, we are still observing our Advent rituals. For example, here are the little girls joyfully watching the Advent candles burn:
But we did it; we committed Liturgical Sin and bought a huge, 9-foot Fraser Fir right smack in the middle of Advent.*
Oh, what a tree! Just for fun, here are some photos of the children decorating it.
All said and done:
If you look closely at the foot of the fireplace, you’ll see our Nativity Stable and Inn. (You know, the Inn that rejected Joseph and Mary.) Of course Joseph and Mary aren’t there yet, in fact, they wandering around in the kitchen cupboards right now, and the children are having a jolly, good time playing with all the shepherds, sheep, and inn keepers.
Favorite Christmas Ornament?
All my birds. One cannot have enough birds in a Christmas tree.
Ok, I really like this ornament too. It’s my husband in 1987. He made this ornament for his mother, and she graciously gave it to us.
*Next year, however, we do plan on waiting until the last possible moment for buying and putting up a Christmas tree. Truly, there is something really special about that. See HERE for it.
A few weeks ago, here’s how I worked on my Christmas cards:
And here is how I scrubbed onesies full of poop. (Laundry doesn’t go away during the holidays.) It just so happens that a dear friend stopped by and gave me the coffee. May God bless her thoughtfulness!
Here is my son traveling to his doctor appointment wherein we didn’t discover much of anything.
Here is our sweet Christmas tree. It has a gaping hole in the back. But that’s what you get when you wait until two days before Christmas Eve to buy one. (As of last year, we decided to wait until the last possible moment to get one. Oh the excitement!) Then we decorate it on Christmas Eve. Click HERE for last year’s Sweet Thang.
And, here are the rest of the children helping with the cookies.
In any case, I pray that your Christmas may be holy and jolly! Come, Lord Jesus!
Well, this year we decided to do something we’ve never, ever done before – wait until the last possible minute to buy and put up a Christmas tree, which was Saturday, December 23rd, as we didn’t want to shop on Sunday, Christmas Eve.
Now normally we drive to the local tree nursery and pick out a big, beautiful 7-8 foot Frasier Fir the first or second weekend of Advent. Twice we even bought a potted tree, which we planted in our yard in the Spring. Of course potted trees are a bit more expensive, like $200 compared to the $100 for a cut tree, but then you have the benefit of a lifelong tree in the yard.
Anyway, it is then our tradition to let the tree sit until Christmas Eve, when we all decorate it together before Midnight Mass. This year, however, we wanted to enter more fully into the season of Advent and not be bothered with a tree, until necessary. The result?
I have never been so excited to get a Christmas tree! It was so hard to see all those beautifully decorated trees in the windows of everyone’s houses! Let’s face it – Christmas trees are so festive and cheering. Who wouldn’t want one up all year round? (Well, maybe the dead pine needles would deter some…) And the children were positively giddy when we drove to Menards to buy one. (The local nursery was not open.)
The selection, however, was as one might expect. There were about 15 absolutely dead trees. So, we picked out the least looking dead one and drove home, still very happy with our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. After all, this tree just needed a little love – like Linus’s blanket wrapped around its base or some sparkling lights and shiny ornaments. And it turned out all right, as you can see by the picture.
But there was another reward for waiting. We only spent $2.13! Unbelievable.
And there is even one more, unlooked for advantage to purchasing a really dead tree. You see, we need not concern ourselves with watering it. I mean, we do have it sitting in water, but it hasn’t soaked up any yet.
Now, let’s just hope this tree makes it until Epiphany without completely falling apart. (Oh that we lived near a Christmas Tree Farm, so that we could get a fresh one, which might last until the Feast of the Presentation on February 2.)
But will we do this again next year? Yes. The wait was worth it, even if only for the sheer excitement of the thing.