When Jeff and Bracken went up in the woods looking for a tree for us this year (and found those chantrelles), it took some searching, but they finally found one that would work. (None of them would have been described as full and bushy, but they wanted to find a tree with branches that could hold the weight of ornaments.) When they returned, I took a break from my work to admire the tree they had chosen, and then we kept it outside (in some water) until we had the opportunity to set it up in the house. Last weekend, while I was at Stash, Bracken and Jeff set up the tree, strung lights, and hung the ornaments. We had all decided on a place in the living room this year, near the front door and Bracken’s corner with his art supplies and toys, which was the best place we had for it. (I know vertical pictures look wonky on here, by the way, but I couldn’t fit the whole tree in otherwise.)
Jeff had told me on the phone when I was driving back that when they had set up the tree he had noticed how sparse it was in places and a lot of it was more lights than tree… but when I walked in the door that night and saw it all lit up, what a wonderful sight that was. I wanted to drop everything, curl up on the couch and simply stare at it and do nothing else. To me, that night, it was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. There’s just something about trees covered in twinkly lights that looks so magical, isn’t there? It’s a tradition that keeps our spirits bright, and gives us a warm cozy feeling during a time of year when it’s darker and we need the reminder that the light will return.
Bracken was proud to show me the strands of beads he had strung across the branches (and necklaces, yarn, and all kinds of things he found around the house.) Covering our tree were special ornaments from when I was a child, ornaments Jeff had made in wood (including some of the ones we all painted), and random little beads and things that were made into ornaments over the years. Each year the tree has a story or a special memory. Last year was the frozen tree that left a puddle in the back of the car, and the year before that another tree from the woods by our house (the one a bird landed in when it flew in the front door.) I love our sweet tree this year, full of whimsy and character. (The next day we were startled when our tree fell over, but Jeff stabilized it further to keep that from happening again. I guess this year’s tree will be remembered by that. Ha! One of my mom’s customers, by the way, had their tree fall over three times and finally had to attach it to the wall.)
For so many people I talk to, the holiday season feels like such a whirlwind with the places they work or the businesses they own so much busier than usual. I thought this year the holiday season would feel slower for us without the market, but it felt like the whole month (and the one before that) went by in a flash and we were working to keep up the whole time. (Thank you to all of our customers who kept us busy, we’re grateful to you!) On Monday I mailed out the last big push of orders in the shop for the week, to get them out in time for Christmas. It was such a relief to do that, and then it was time to focus on getting our gifts for family mailed out in time.
Sometimes we’re so busy mailing out orders for our customer’s holiday gifts that it’s hard to find the time to even think about figuring out our own holiday gifts. We got gifts mailed out, though. I felt like I was finally able to catch my breath after that had been done and on Thursday, Solstice, we went to the ocean to unwind for a few hours. It was just what we needed. I love giving gifts so much. Sometimes I wish I could slow time down in December and take the time to make the thoughtful, full of love, handmade gifts for everyone that I would like to. As it is, things feel a bit rushed (and there may or may not be something handmade), but the love is there as I wrap things up and think of each person I’m sending a gift to.
For our little family, we’re keeping our gifts to each other simple, like we usually do. When I saw my mom’s cousin recently, she told me that when her daughter was young she kept things simple and her gift giving was inspired by the saying-
Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.
I’m not sure if I’m writing it down here exactly like she said it, but I liked it so much that I wanted to share it here. I followed it this year when deciding what to get for Bracken. I realized that this year is the first Christmas Eve that Bracken has had at home (every other year we were working that day), which I can hardly believe. Our Christmas Eve may not have gone exactly how we’d envisioned it with one of us being under the weather, car problems and plans changed, and all the things like that which life brings, but we’re together at home and for that I’m very grateful.
Happy Holidays everyone!