Tag Archives: tree

A Charlie Brown Christmas……………

About a year ago, I was decorating our house for Christmas and getting ready to move our family around the world. It was an overwhelming time and it felt a little rushed. In many ways, it is mostly a blur. Immediately after Christmas, I literally stuffed all the decorations into boxes, shoved them in the closets, and checked one more thing off my to do list. Christmas – done and undone – check. Then I began really focusing on moving my family to India.

What I didn’t realize is that almost exactly a year later, I would visit Singapore all decorated for Christmas and I would hear Christmas songs in every store. That I would buy candy canes in Singapore just because I could – they just don’t seem to be available in Delhi. And that when I got home I would just stick them in the cabinet. Because we were treeless. I don’t think I have ever been treeless. In fact, we usually put up two tress in the U.S. – one that has decorations the kids made and one that no one is allowed to touch but me. But now, all of our decorations are in the U.S. – except for a few that I bought at a craft show a few weeks ago.

My parents got divorced when I was pretty young, so I often celebrated Christmas twice. My mother’s birthday is Christmas day. It’s always been a wonderful time of year for me. After I got married, we started celebrating Christmas three or four times – just depending on how many different groups of family members were gathering together. Christmas Eve with number one hubby’s family is a wonderful, cherished tradition. Christmas morning with most of my family is magical. Then of course, we have our own party of five celebration. Throw in a few parties and some cookie baking and a white elephant gift exchange and you have yourself a Christmas season.

Well, most of that simply cannot happen when you live around the world from the people you hold most dear. Even putting up decorations seems like just going through the motions. But not being able to put up decorations is really depressing. We will be home for literally 20 hours Christmas day – the rest of the time we will be traipsing around the world. We are counting our blessings and know just how very lucky we are. But, something is missing.

Until last night. Last night, number one hubby brought home this. Now you know how he earns his status. Today after school we are going ornament shopping. We might even make some hot chocolate and sing a few Christmas songs.

Charlie Brown would be very, very proud. (For those of you not familiar with Charlie Brown – he is a cartoon character and one of his stories is about how he finds this little twig of a tree and brings it to life with love and lights. He turns nothing into magic with the spirit of Christmas.)

P.S. Someone is probably curious – so I will go ahead and answer the question now – yes, there are over a million Christians in India and they celebrate Christmas. Lucky for us! There are stores that sell trees and ornaments and decorations. It’s just that the town won’t be all decked out in red and green – it’s a big difference! But it feels better now.

And then there is this……..

One of the first posts I wrote when we moved to India was about the beautiful trees in Lodhi Gardens. India has some wonderful trees!

If I had ever heard of a banyan tree before we moved to India, I had completely forgotten.

I will never forget this tree…………..


For the love of trees………..

This is a park near our house called Lohdi Gardens. Holy moly – these trees are amazing. I am a lover of all things tree and I might just have found nirvana.

YeS, ViRGiNia, THeRe iS a SaNTa CLauS………………..

Or at least there might be and that is good enough for me.
Bear is thoroughly confused. Yippeee.bear-in-santa-hat
Angel and Flower have no doubts whatsoever. Santa is the best.

Very long story short, Santa normally comes to our house on the night of the 23rd. This year, I explained to my kids that asking him to come early was just too much and we weren’t going to do that again.

Let the reindeer games begin.

On Dec. 24th, we went to my mother-in-law’s house for our Christmas celebration with number one hubby’s family. While we were gone – and in the middle of the day full of bright sunlight – Jolly ole St. Nick snuck into our house and filled our stockings and stuffed our tree with slippers and put a few presents under the tree. What? How did that happen? You should have seen the look on Bear’s face when we walked in the door and we saw the very full stockings. Total confusion.

It did not hurt that one of Bear’s gifts was one I refused to buy. Totally unnecessary, expensive, and no way to get it to India. Sorry, not this year. Don’t even bother asking Santa – it’s not going to happen. Hee hee. My nose was redder than Rudolph’s.

We have not talked about it – that would not be wise – he can out question me and I don’t want to slip up with my normal over-explaining things. It’s better left as confusion.

Flower and Angel were not a bit confused – they just knew Santa would never let them down. Apparently he outranks parents and can come whenever he wants. Okay.

So, as my children get older – I am thinking about the lies I have told them. The ones that were easy to maintain and the ones that were, well, not so much.

If you have young kids, think very carefully about what you tell them. You may have to perpetuate those stories/traditions for a very long time. Just as my kids are getting old enough to not believe, I am getting smart enough to make them believe forever. Minus, of course, the one child who is kind of sort of unconvinced – but is now, at least, very confused. Some of the things I know I have learned from very kind moms with older children who have shared their Santa lessons with me. Some I have learned the old-fashioned way – by falling flat on my lies.

Remember to always have Santa use a different kind of wrapping paper for his presents. Santa can write right on the paper in big fat magic marker – no tags needed – thank you Santa. Make sure the wrapping paper is hidden at least as well as the presents. Black trash bags were invented for throwing away Christmas trash.

Speaking of presents, make sure that anyone who spends anytime at all in your house knows the off-limits areas for hidden gifts.

Think about whether you want your kids to believe that everything is made in the toy shop. Sure, some of the harder to find gifts might be made there – but you only have to be asked once why Santa puts everything in boxes just like the toy store. Yep, only once. My kids know full well that Santa cannot possibly make everything for everyone. He has to shop too. (If you decide to dazzle your kids with a little toy shop magic, make sure you take things out of the boxes before Santa wraps them.)

Be careful what traditions Santa starts. One year, my kids were loving stuffed animals and so Santa very generously gave each of them two. I have it on very good authority that Santa was very tired and was way too out of steam to wrap those little critters, so he stuffed them in the tree. They looked really fabulous stuffed in the tree and there was definitely shock and awe of the magical Christmas kind when the kids discovered them. But, now every year, the big question is – what will Santa stuff in the tree. You can see why that might be a problem – every year!

If your child breaks something in March and you tell them to ask Santa for it in December. Believe me, they will remember to ask. Yes, this is one of the lessons I learned the hard way.

Think long and hard, before telling your kids that the Santa at the mall is the real Santa. They all look very different and forget it if you need to go to more than one mall in the same day – try ‘splainin that to a very logical child. This little bit of truthfulness will reward you with the gift of time and health. Those lines are dreadfully long and every other kid in them has a (very) runny nose – and their mothers think they are adorable. They are not always so adorable. You also won’t have to make yourself crazy finding the perfect outfit.

Let Santa give them something you would never in a million years give them. This makes them very, very confused.

The bottom line in all of this is that the shorter, less involved your answers are the better. Too much information is, well, too much information. And it is bound to lead to more questions.

As for me, I still believe in Santa.

And the stockings were hung…..

This year, when I think of the gifts I want to give my kids, I don’t think of what I can wrap and put under the tree. I think of confidence…laughter (not to be confused with happiness, they have to find that for themselves)…integrity…love… security…determination. Gifts I can wrap around their hearts – gifts that can seep into their personalities. Gifts that can help them understand their potential (not realize their potential, but understand that they have it, – again, realizing it is up to them) – gifts that will shape who they are going to become.christmas-sprig-with-cranberries

I am realizing that as they get older, I have a chance to mature and focus.

That is their gift to me – perspective.

This year, it’s going to be hard for us to give them tangible (translation – material) gifts. Which is a gift in and of itself. So, Number One Hubby and I decided to give them the gift of family, amazement, memories, and laughter. It is a gift we are re-gifting – a gift our families have given to us.

We took them to see Cirque De Soleil.

We went to dinner first and just simply caught up with each other. It was lovely. We had lots of time – no rushing. Then off to the circus. We were dazzled, amused, amazed, and very much entertained. We laughed the whole way home as we recounted our favorite parts and marveled at how the artists managed to do any of what they did – right before our eyes.

The circus was fabulous and we would highly, highly recommend it. But that wasn’t the gift. It was the time together. The memories and the laughter. We created wonderful memories that I know will last at least a lifetime. Maybe memories that will even last thru generations, I can hear them now…….remember when we all went to the circus…. and then, prayerfully, later to their own children, when I was your age………………………..Now those are gifts worth giving.