Happy December First!
In honor of it actually being acceptable to listen to Christmas music, put up the lights, etc, I present you with our family hunt for a Christmas tree.
My menfolk head into the
tree farm forest to find a tree.
What do you think of this one, Daddy? I like it.
Let me help!
He was so very proud of his helping!
Supervising Daddy’s tree removal methods.
This week’s prompt: a memorable camp experience.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was the summer in question, but I think I was in middle school.
The week or two a year that I spent at camp was a magical time for me. I loved everything from the counselors, friends, and campfires to the canoe paddling and tie-dying. Loved. It.
In the middle of the week, in the early evening, just as we were all getting ready for bed, our counselors gathered up the twenty-five of us from our platform tents, and hustled us to the cabin which served as the central meeting place for our campsite. We were counted, recounted, and roll-called before being lined up, sent to retrieve our sleeping bags, and hustled off to the dining hall.
We speculated as to the cause. Storms? Fabulous all-camp surprise? Upon arrival we were told it was an all-camp slumber party. The other three campsites turned up, each with about five staff and twenty-five girls. They settled us on cot mattresses in the dining hall, and attempted to quiet us all down.
There was some singing, and then lights out. It took a long time for one hundred girls to fall asleep under such unusual circumstances.
We continued to speculate in whispers late into the night. There was a crackling intensity running through the room. The adults seemed keyed up, surfing a current of unease that they were trying desperately to hide with false cheer.
In later years, I was a counselor, and I remember waiting out tornado warnings and other emergencies in the same dining room, trying valiantly to hide the strain. I don’t know why I didn’t remember this night, remember that children feel emotional currents so strongly.
The next morning, we packed out, returned to our campsite and started the day, returning to the dining hall a scant hour later for a raucous breakfast, as per usual. The rest of the week passed without incident.
Except that the camp director, whose name I’ve long forgotten, made a point of saying hello to me every morning. Just me. By name. Every morning. Until I left with my Mom on Saturday.
On the long ride home, my Mom told me a scary story.
She and my Dad were home, my brother was in bed. The phone rang. She answered it, and a man told her that he had me. That he had taken me from camp. She called the police. She called the camp. The camp director radioed my counselors, who ascertained that I was where I belonged, untouched. Safe.
Camp went into quiet lock down. An all-camp slumber party.
And the camp director, whose name I’ve long forgotten, made a point of saying hello to me every morning. Just me. By name. Every morning. Until I left with my Mom on Saturday.
In anticipation of our annual Tree Trimmin’ OysterFestivus, we headed southwest to Sutton to try out a new tree farm. We went to Sleighbell Tree Farm, which was far more of a traditional cut your own tree farm than we’ve been going to these last few years. They have hayrides, hot cocoa and cider, and it looks like a Christmas tree farm (and yes, that matters to me). I think it will be fun in subsequent years with Felix. For this year, however, he rode in the backpack in a purely suprvisory role.
Two days left to the year, and I’ve got a lot of things I meant to say, but never did. Somehow the kid got in the way 🙂 I found this list on a blog I stalk, and thought I’d spend a little time answering the questions, in lieu of something more original.
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags, if I have some to recycle from the year before. Brown craft paper is my favorite, with pretty, shiny ribbons and bows a la Martha. Or scraps of paper leftover from previous years, if I happen to have a newborn in the house.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real. Preferably cut from a tree farm. Though, nest year I may invest in a smaller pre-lit fake tree for my best ornaments. (Yes, I have enough ornaments for two trees…)
3. When do you put up the tree? On OysterFestivus, of course.
4. When do you take the tree down? Just in time for the town curbside tree collection.
5. Do you like egg nog? Yep. Yum. With a drop of bourbon and some fresh ground nutmeg.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Favorite ever? I couldn’t say. But one Christmas I got an indoor play tent, a bright orange vinyl monstrosity that I loved with all my heart. I remembered it this fall, and now I can even remember the smell of the plastic.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope.
8. Hardest person to buy for? Daddy. I haven’t finished his gift yet, but when I do, it will explain much…
9. Easiest person to buy for? Mom. I think of something every day, the trouble is what to decide on?
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? This year? Not applicable. But I like mailed cards best.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I’m fairly sure that any Christmas gift I might not have loved was still given in the proper spirit, so how could I say it was the worst?
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Charlie Brown Christmas special, and the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as narrated by the great Boris Karloff.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I have no hard and fast rules on this one, but, believe it or not, I did start my Christmas knitting in August, and due to Felix, still didn’t get it done.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. And I’ll never say which ones.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mimosas and my Mom’s coffee cake on Christmas morning, and pumpkin roll anywhere you serve it.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I prefer clear, Mark prefers color (and lots of it!), so next year, my fake tree will have clear, and the main tree will have color, and we will all have a Merry Christmas!
17. Favorite Christmas song? So many. I have hundreds of Christmas tunes in my holiday playlist. I love Silent Night in the original German, and the Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of God Bless You, Merry Gentlemen. Also, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, but not the chapel melody. And O, Holy Night, in big, grandiose full choral harmony.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We’ve been splitting the holiday since Mark and I got together five years ago, but now that we have Felix, I think a little boy should be able to have Christmas morning in his own house.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I am a nanny, and a Christmas music junkie. Of course I can. And I don’t need to prove it.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I have an angel Boyd’s Bear.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or christmas morning? With two households to visit, it takes all day Christmas Day, though when Mark and exchange gifts, we usually do it Christmas Eve.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Not enough time to do things the way I’d like to.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I love glass and things that sparkle. But our big tree has all these goofy ornaments from the OysterFests that are awesome because they come from our friends and have stories and memories attached to them.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I actually always loved when my Mom made lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. And we’re not even Italian.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? We got everything we could have asked for, except maybe a gift certificate to my favorite spa. That would have been dreamy.
26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Not applicable.
27. Who is least likely to respond to this? Again, not applicable.
28. When did you stop believing in Santa? I don’t remember how old I was, but I was older than most. I held on, even doubtfully, until I found “Santa’s” wrapping tissue under my Mom’s living room chair. I was heartbroken, like any smart kid with a big imagination. I really wanted it to be true, even though I knew it was unlikely. I kept “believing” for a long time after that, though, since my brother is six years younger tham I am.
29. How many people do you have to buy for at Christmas? I try to keep it simple. My immediate family, and Mark’s, and my godson (whose gift is coming, I swear!), and the family I work for.
Since Monday, a rhythm has surfaced to our days at home. Felix is, as defined for someone his age, sleeping through the night. By this, I mean that he goes to sleep around midnight and only wakes once between 12 and 6. I feel human! He can also be counted on to nap (ie: alone, in his crib or bassinet) for 2 to 3 hours in the afternoon, along with all the other baby-related dozing in arms or slings or in the baby-papasan. This has meant a shocking amount of cleaning and organizing has gone on around the house.
We’ve ventured out to the library, to the mall, to the post office, to drop off some stuff at the Salvation Army, gotten gas, gone to the bank… He’s really becoming a functional member of the household, in his way. Hooray! Now, if he’ll only let me get some more Christmas knitting done. Some folks may be getting IOUs this year. Having a baby six weeks before Christmas can be taxing on a gal’s knitting mojo.
The dogs continue to be neurotic and weird, but not at all hostile towards the baby, which gives me hope. They’ve taken to eating things like dog beds and cushions, and Maurice still enjoys rabbit droppings in the yard when he can find them. Yuck!
We’ll kick off the holiday season this weekend with a couple of friends and more than a few oysters, a far cry from some of the parties we’ve thrown, but I hope everyone would understand the need to scale it back this year. I suppose, in years to come, it will evolve into a more family friendly affair, but we’ll see about that as the year goes by.
I’ve been too tired, and distracted, to blog effectively these last few days, but today I’m feeling pretty good.
So, Felix continues to excel in growing, but needs improvement in distinguishing between day and night. He has been given lines to do this afternoon, which is why I have a few minutes to blog:
Night is when I sleep.
Night is when I sleep.
Night is when I sleep.
Night is when I sleep.
We went and killed a Festivus tree on Saturday, and let me tell you, it was cold out there!
Today, I’m setting a pot roast up in the slow cooker and baking a batch of Cranberry Fig muffins. No hazelnuts, please. I dislike crunchy bits in my moist baked goods.
My pot roast is smelling delish: 2.5 pound eye round roast, browned in flour and olive oil, with broth, oregano, onions, carrots, celery, dried apricots and plums, and a splash of cabernet. Mmmmm….
Back to getting life in order, must snatch these moments while he sleeps!
Well, blogging has gone right down the holiday shitter, now hasn’t it? I heart me some Christmas, I do. I loaded my 16ish hour holiday playlist into my iPod 12/1/06, and our OysterFestivus was a smash, but people, I am pooped.
And I’m seriously considering making two wee buches de noel for various family holiday visits. That idea might have to go down the holiday shitter, too.
Shopping’s almost done, though… Just a few more little things.
Anyway, since I last wrote, almost nothing has happened.
|From Brasserie MoMP|
I spent the day cooking – I know, you’re shocked… but I also trimmed the tree(still have one more box of ornaments. eeek!) and ran a few elfy errands. Oh, and laundry, since I was too busy making merry last weekend to get any done.
Now, I’m no Christian, so the Christmas I celebrate is very secular in terms of creating light in the dark and cold of the year, and celebrating family, community, etc… I’ve been reading about the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which, incidentally is tonight, and I’m into it. Family feasting, pranks, drinking, merry-making… sounds familiar? Perhaps because it is the Roman festival from which the early Roman Christian leaders pilfered in order to attract converts from the Roman people, much the way some winter solstice practices were adopted from the celts and anglo-saxon types in Western Europe.. crafty… Perhaps OysterFestivus is our Saturnalia?
Rituals include images of Saturn (a jovial, but dignified old man, often seen with animals, and symbols of plenty such as oil jugs, a cornucopia, or a bag of gifts… hmmmm…), red, peaked caps (the mark of freed slaves, which was a role-play in households with slaves in ancient Rome), and a week’s worth of feasting and all that jazz, which comes at the time of the solstice, and/or the lunar month of capricorn…
Emma and I were having a chat about how many cultures have holidays near this time of year which emphasize light in the darkness, feasting, and celebrating family and community, and I guess this is just one more.
Pass the twinkle lights, please.
…something gets broken: only one wine glass. We must be getting old.
…someone puts their foot in their mouth: Drunk Girl says to N, “Why are you so grumpy? You could have that (gestures to Fibby) if you weren’t so grumpy.” N gestures to nearby wife, H, and says, “But I’m already married to that.”
…two-and-a-half pounds of bacon is cooked: description unnecessary.
…drunk dialing occurrs: We missed you, Burger!
Seriously, it was a great night, and a great morning/afternoon. Bacon, pug dogs, tree trimmin’, cheap wine, couch surfers, sixteen hours of Christmas music, oysters, nine cars in our driveway. Kudos to all who came out! Happy Holidays, Merry OysterFestivus, and a Happy New Year!