This was the year Shannon and I
trekked out to Granger's Tree Farm
and harvested a tree.
It was a mild day, probably nearly 50 degrees, with a soft gray sky. We drove out in the rusty old van, the car I finally love (I never love them until they are beat).
On the way, Shannon regaled me with stories of her chemistry department and the personalities therein. We arrived at the farm and found a person to direct us, even though it was about 3 p.m. on a Friday late in December, all the wreaths were sold, and we were were the only customers there. This man also gave us a plastic sled on which to drag our tree back.
We hiked up the hill in the wind which was turning chilly. The ground was mushy. After inspecting a number of trees, we found one we agreed on... a fat, jolly one, the fattest, jolliest tree I have ever seen. Shannon went about trying to cut it down while I held the trunk. She ended up positioning the sled beneath the tree so she could sit on it and keep her backside mostly dry while sawing. This turned out to be a good use for the sled, which was not much use otherwise.
Finally, the tree felled, we headed back to the barn to pay. The tree was so fat, it rolled off the sled twice, after which we just picked it up and carried it, dragging the sled awkwardly behind us.
The man at the barn tied up the tree for us and then asked for his money. I handed him a credit card. He said, "We don't take credit cards." So... to make a long story short, we left the tree on the ground in front of the barn and drove across the rural wilderness of northern New York State until we came upon a gas station with an ATM. And we ended up, service fees and all, not getting such a great deal on the tree as we otherwise would have. But we got a great tree, and Shawn was not angry with us.
This was the year that the girls and I
went for pedicures.
During the week between Christmas and New Year's, Lulu got a bit bored and blue from the quietness of life at home in contrast to the excitement of dorm living. So I scheduled pedicures for the three of us, and Shanny, Lulu and I went, all 17 feet and 5 inches of us (that's our combined heights), and had our feet "spa-ed" and toenails painted by tiny giggling Asian girls. It's a bit intimidating to have your feet done by minuscule creatures who chatter to each other in a foreign language and laugh while they work, but we tried not to imagine what they were saying and just enjoy the sensation of hot, damp, peppermint-scented towels laid across our calves. Shannon and Laura had their toes done in deep reds. I got a girlie, pearly lavender.
This was the year that Jonathan
played a triumphant trumpet fanfare
with four other trumpeters at church
on Christmas morning.
It was an arrangement of Joy to the World. I wish I had a recording of it. What an amazing way to begin Sunday service on Christmas Day! I really like when Christmas is on a Sunday.
This was the year when I realized
that I should be thankful
for my Christmas birthday,
because it meant that my entire family was home, in our house. That night all the beds in all the bedrooms were occupied by their proper occupants.
This was the year that we had a glorious,
warm (well, 50 degree),
sunny, green Christmas.
I have had enough white Christmases in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the change this year.
This was a year of feasts...
A fantastic ham dinner at the O'Briens' house on Christmas day, a turkey dinner (with cranberries from scratch!) on 12/29, and prime rib and shrimp cocktail on New Year's Eve. Usually we just have nachos on New Year's Eve, so it was a pretty big deal.
This was the year I got Shawn
a contraption that would
convert his slides to PDFs,
so he went to town and got all his slides from his youth missions trips loaded onto his computer. On New Year's Eve we sat in the family room and he projected (onto a large sheet of Masonite leaning on the entertainment center) the photo-journal of his journeys to Australia and China. He took a picture in Tienanmen Square a number of years prior to the massacre. A strange thought. The kids enjoyed seeing what their dad looked like when he was about 17.
Shannon baked cookies; Laura organized David's desk; David worked on writing essays and personal statements for all kinds of things he is applying to do in the future; Jonathan was happy that his sisters were home; and we all slept until we woke up without alarm clocks every day for a week. That was Christmas 2011.