So, although I was raised to have a real tree, we made the switch last year to artificial when we realized that the expense of a real tree coupled with the purchase of new lights was a little steep, not to mention the little pine needles I was always finding everywhere, and the constant threat of fire!! Although the smell of warm plastic in no way can compare to the fresh smell of a real tree, these days I am a little more interested in economics than I care to admit.
By far the favorite ornaments are those sent by my loving Aunt each year (along with a box of See's Chocolates) from Disney. These Storybook Collections come in a box shaped like a storybook, and have excellent resin renditions of all the characters. Disney only releases two stories each year, (This year is Sleeping Beauty, and Toy Story) and they are quite affordable. It is my fantastic Aunt that taught me the importance of labeling my ornaments with the year and storing them in their original boxes. Every year when I open the huge Rubbermaids containing our ornaments I am overwhelmed with nostalgia for the weekends I spent with her and her careful attention to raising me right. This is just one of the things we share with the children as we decorate.
Other favorites, an adorable ceramic house my brother Michael painted in 1984, it is complete with reindeer hoofprints on the roof and a menorah in the window. Whenever I see it I am instantly flooded with memories of Legos, and Matchbox Cars, Scrabble, Monopoly, and a Chinese Game called Go. As well as a thousand rafting trips, hikes and nature walks. This was the brother who loved logic and reason, but seemed also to have a soft spot (very un-Spock Like) for his sister. When he converted and began celebrating Hannukah, he included us in his celebration, I have very fond memories of his patient teaching of the meaning of Hannukah, and the correct way to light the Menorah.
The children are conditioned now (with their own interest in connecting to the past) to ask about each ornament and where it came from, and it is a delight to me to share our history this way.
When the tree was all decorated the highlight of the evening was (this will make you laugh) the argument Cubby and Miss H had over who could re-tell the story of the first Christmas using the nativity set. They did opt to take turns, but the pure enthusiasm and desire they had for retelling the story of the birth of the Christ child warmed my heart. It is a delight for me to see these children of ours learn about their Savior and tell His story. When I get these little glimpses at the great goodness that can come from patient parenting I am thankful, it is a blessing to see the small fruits of your labor so soon, as well as an encouragement to know that this is only the beginning.
I hope your Advent is shaping up well, it is afterall the most wonderful time of the year!!