Tag Archives: christmas

merry happy

We spent a lot of time choosing Christmas cards this year.  We don’t like the ones with glitter, we don’t like them too glossy.  We didn’t want a specially printed We-Had-A-Baby! photo card.  The cards we chose were simple, smart and sparse, with a decent printed message and plenty of room for supplementing that with notes to our friends and family.

Those cards are still hanging in their bag by the front door, waiting for stamps, addresses, and special messages.  It’s Christmas-Eve-Eve.  There’s just no time, alas, no energy or patience for trips to the post office or to look for the address book.  It makes me a little sad.

JSTOR Daily had an article this week on the history of the American Christmas card tradition.  I always love to read things like this.  I was especially interested in this bit:

In “The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship,” Yale anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo explains that the practice thrived amid postbellum industrialization and the demise of the family farm. As relatives spread out geographically, women assumed responsibility for “the work of kinship” and became caretakers of extended family connections. Christmas cards were a convenient way for them to nurture relationships among their husbands, children, and distant relatives.

I suppose I knew this already, that Christmas cards are “the work of kinship.”  The thing I’m telling myself, this year, is that this blog is also doing some of that caretaking work.  Our family and friends are spread far and wide.  This website keeps us close to them…or tries to, at any rate.

And so, dear friends and loved ones, we wish you a very happy holiday, from our little family to yours.  May all your days be merry and bright.

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Photo by Devin Nutter Photography.  Snowflakes are purely wishful thinking, as the forecast for Christmas here is 75 degrees and rainy.

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a babyproof Christmas tree

Today I am posting about something other than fibular hemimelia. ::gasp!::

There’s a lot of joking around the Internet this time of year about babies/toddlers and Christmas trees. Most of the solutions are fairly bleak. You can protect the tree with baby gates or try to block it with furniture. You can leave the bottom half unadorned, or decorate with baby toys, or do away with the tree in favor of ornament stands placed out of reach. My sister-in-law, a mother of four, puts the entire tree out of reach; fully bedecked, it sits atop a corner table, nestled between two couches. 

Short on space, we considered several of these approaches as we worried about how we’d protect Henry, our tree, and our holiday spirits. But we’ve found another way that’s worked for us, as you can see:

It looks as if he’s pulling up on giant presents. Really, though, this is our Christmas Tree Protection Barrier. It’s worked beautifully so far, in that our tree is still standing and its bottom half is not bereft of ornaments, so I thought I would share our strategy with you. 

I first got the idea for using wrapped gift boxes from Pinterest, of course. This link is the example I liked best, and it cautions against using this trick if you (like us) have a climber. We also have a chewer–no cardboard box or piece of paper is safe here–so I actually discarded this idea for a while.  It turned out to be the best start to a solution I found, though, so I made it work for us. Here’s how. 

First, we needed boxes. I went to Home Depot and found their heavy duty moving boxes were quite a bit sturdier than regular cardboard boxes. The large and extra large sizes are tall enough so that Henry can’t get onto them (for H, this means they’re above armpit level), so I went with those. We played with them for a few days to be sure they were up to a holiday season of use. Next, we needed sturdy wrapping paper. After Christmas last year, Michael and I bought a few rolls of super nice paper from The Container Store. The paper is heavy, much thicker than usual gift wrap, and has a sort of glazed or coated feeling about it. To finish up, I needed packing tape to build the boxes. I got the heavy duty kind from Scotch and used that for wrapping, too. And, since both Henry and our cat will be messing with these boxes for a while, they also needed some weight to them. As it so happens, I have a couple shelves of books around. All set. 

I built a test box and left it in the living room for a few days before I put up the tree. We had to be sure our plan would work…and it did! Henry managed to gnaw through the paper along the top edges of the box, so I covered that area with a strip of packing tape. I also added a few more books to the box to give it more weight. Once we were satisfied, we went to buy more wrapping paper (metallic thus time, which also works well) and built two more barrier boxes. I put packing tape on all the chewing edges.
 I also custom built the extra large box so that it wouldn’t jut into the living room quite so much and we could still have some variation in the boxes. Finally, each box has about twenty pounds of books in the bottom.
And this is the result! We’re pretty pleased. As a bonus, the boxes helped me keep Henry at bay while I assembled, lit, and decorated the tree. 

  

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think warm thoughts

It’s the 10th day of Christmas.  Did your true love remember your leaping lords?  Mine did not, unfortunately, but I’ve made up for it by listening to Led Zeppelin and David Bowie.  That kind of counts.*  I asked my true love to get me a bubble tea on his way home from work.

Dia de los Reyes is just around the corner!  I celebrated that with my friend Lauren’s family for a few years before I began celebrating Christmas proper again with Michael.  Now that I do Christmas, I make sure we really do it.  I can’t say we do it right – we’re not incredibly religious, and we tend to celebrate the Christmas season during Advent rather than using that time to prepare and anticipate – but we certainly get all twelve days of Christmas, we enjoy every second, and our tree stays up until Epiphany.  I’ve made it a point to look at our Christmas tree a lot this afternoon since I’ll take it down on Monday or Tuesday.  It’s so pretty.

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Scotch Egbert has enjoyed our thrifted tree skirt this year.  To his credit, he’s only knocked five or six ornaments out of the tree since we put it up!  That’s pretty impressive considering the damage he wrought last year.  Michael’s poor LEON train lost a couple of wheels thanks to Scotch’s grinchy disdain for the holiday, so we had to rethink its placement this year.  It rests securely on the living room bookshelves.

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Anyway.  I will miss our decorations.  They brighten winter just enough to make it seem bearable.  It’s gotten rather cold here in the past day or so, and while I know better than to complain – especially since we don’t have the blizzard that’s snowbound so many of our friends to the north – I will admit it drains my spirit.

And so, I leave you with spirits!

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More precisely, I leave you with mulled wine, to which you can add spirits if you wish.  I wish we had some of this around tonight.  It’s quite warming.

4 bottles red wine (cheap stuff will do just fine)
3 tangerines
3 oranges
cinnamon sticks (a handful)
star anise (to taste)
nutmeg (two or three, whole please)
cloves (also whole, to taste)

Slice the citrus and squeeze them gently before placing them in a generously sized stock pot.  Add the wine and other ingredients, and allow the mixture to simmer over low-medium heat.  It’s best to be conservative at first.  If the wine becomes too spiced for your liking, you can always add more citrus, but it’s better to add spices bit by bit.  Once the flavors have mixed to your liking, reduce the heat.  To serve, strain into mugs, and allow guests to add brandy or whiskey as you deem appropriate.  Serves between 12 and 20 guests, depending on personal taste and what else is available.

*It especially counts since many early versions of the song reserve the 10th day for piping pipers.

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lucky seven

It’s the seventh day of Christmas, so make sure you’ve gotten the appropriate swimming swans in order for your love.  Michael’s variation of this gift seems to be sitting with me while we watch episodes of Great Chefs focusing on French cuisine…which I suppose is fine, considering the familiar cumulative carol likely originated in that country and undoubtedly describes the preparations for a great Twelfth Night feast.

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I’m fairly new to this whole Christmas thing.  My parents celebrated with a tree and gifts when I and my brother were little, but  it wasn’t a religious holiday for us, and we fell out of the habit once neither of us believed in Santa.  Once my grandmother died, we didn’t visit her house for the holidays either, and so I planned to spend Christmas alone the year Michael and I began dating.  (I ended up driving to Mississippi to visit my parents.)  Michael could barely stand it–Christmas is a big deal for his family–and so, the next year, we put up a tree in my little apartment and I went with him to his family Christmas for the first time.  I was reluctant, but Michael won me over with promises involving smiling children’s faces, twinkly lights, and as many decorations as I could possibly stand to put up.  Since then, I’ve come to embrace the holiday season.  I especially love the idea that Christmastide carries joy and celebration beyond Christmas Day itself.  Since I also love our growing collection of decorations beyond measure, I refuse to take down our tree and lights until Twelfth Night.  Absolutely refuse!

Our Christmastide has been lovely so far.  We travelled to Tennessee to visit with Michael’s family for the few days leading up to and following Christmas Day.  We stayed with Michael’s mom, had a grand time playing with Caroline and Ella, and generally enjoyed ourselves.  Melissa and Michael cooked delicious meals for the festivities in Spring Hill on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the second day.  On the 27th we drove to Memphis for dinnerwith the extended family, hosted by Gramme and PopPop, which was delightful.  The next day we saw Josh and Suzanne, friends of ours who will marry in May, then drove back to Atlanta to greet my parents.  We’ve spent the last two days showing them around Atlanta–Dad especially liked IKEA and The Varsity–and finally, today, Michael and I are by ourselves.  We plan to slip into the New Year quietly, together, sipping Prosecco and enjoying the glistening of our Christmas lights.

This year has been especially kind to us, and I must admit, I’m a little sad to see it go.  We’ve been loved and lucky.

Lucky life isn’t one long string of horrors / and there are moments of peace, and pleasure, as I lie in between the blows. / … / Lucky life is like this.  Lucky there is an ocean to come to.  –Gerald Stern

Still, the coming year promises at least as much in the way of happiness and love, surprises and beauty, change and luck.  We’re glad to ring it in together, sweet and close,and maybe a little tipsy.

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It’s Christmas Eve!

It's Christmas Eve!

We wish you and yours a lovely couple of holiday days.

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