Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tree Dreams Are Made Of These


I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes the night before Thanksgiving feeling completely drained after 6 hours of driving accompanied by a 7 hour whirlwind tour of Memphis that day. As Charlie stood by my side doing the drying he asks, "Can we take a walk through the property tomorrow morning? I found a Christmas tree I want to cut down and use this year and I want to make sure you like it." Well, that perked me right up.
Like it?
Of course I am going to like it! This is what my homesteading dreams are made of for Pete's sake! To have land that provides almost all of our needs was the main motivation behind undertaking this move in the first place. Never mind that I tend to be persnickety about how tall and full our Christmas tree is. I know I scrutinize and inspect potential trees for bare spots, girth, limb strength and the perfect shade of evergreen. I can't imagine anything more bucolic than cutting down our own Christmas tree on our own land. I will love this tree no matter what.
After coffee on Thanksgiving morning, I pulled on my Wellies and followed him down the hill behind the barn. There she stood in all her splendor; a gorgeous tree that I think might be juniper or something of the sort. Her limbs would never be able to support heavy ornaments so decorating would need to take a different spin but that didn't matter because we were cutting down our own tree on our own property. That trumps using the antique mercury glass kugels.


 Out of respect for the sanctity of the Thanksgiving holiday I never, ever start decorating for Christmas until the Sunday after. It is my solemn rule. One holiday should never impede on another ~ they all deserve their fair share of time and attention. So after church while my heart was feeling full, grateful and ready to focus on only the good our sweet little family of four traipsed down that hill to get our first official Christmas tree for our new home. I watched the boys cut it down as Christmas carols rang through my head and even sang some aloud as the boys dragged it back up that steep incline. Charlie and Ryan were even forced  willing to pose next to the tree for a perfectly bucolic Instagram shot. Oh, Christmas tree indeed.

I'm not sure where and when it started to go wrong or what the hell happened in that barn but someone got a little slap happy with the chainsaw and the next thing I knew I was presented with a tree that did not remotely resemble the tall, lush one I approved at the bottom of the hill. They knew it too because they didn't even try to argue or pretend that the little, stout, chopped up thing was acceptable. In fact, I was told not to worry that there was a back up tree down there we could use instead.

Take two.
Back down we went but this time the kids disappeared into the woods together which left Charlie to drag the tree all the way back up himself because I needed both hands to carry the chainsaw and take pictures. He was out of breath, exhausted and mildly annoyed by the time we made it back up but it was his own fault since he was so overzealous with the chainsaw. I stayed outside this time to oversee the trimming and before you could sing Jingle Bells we were bringing her inside to take center stage in the living room.
It wasn't even a full half hour later that I noticed something smelled funny. Every time I walked into the open space that is our kitchen, dining and living room it smelled like cat pee. I had purchased a new candle which was burning so it was hard to determine at first where the smell was coming from. We have cats but they are not allowed in the house. And how could a cinnamon clove candle smell like cat pee?
I blew it out but the pee smell was still there. I gathered the whole family to see if they smelled it too. I think Charlie thought I had just changed my mind and didn't like the tree anymore, Ryan agreed that it stunk and Liam refused to take sides. Charlie was angry and asked if I wanted the tree out of the house. I felt bad. He went to all that trouble to cut down the tree(s) and it was pretty but we all know that no one can live with a pee tree.
So out it went.
look carefully and you can spot the possible culprit in the grass ~ funny he should be hanging out down there

Not one to waste things, I grabbed the vintage apple picking basket I had purchased a month earlier and filled it with trimmed branches for the front door. A few years back Southern Living featured an apple picking basket filled with wheat on a front door instead of a wreath and I was bound and determined that someday I would find the perfect one for my front door. I was disappointed about the tree but my apple picking basket success made up for it. Focusing on only the good was working after all.


On Friday morning Charlie said he was just going to go pick up a tree at a lot while I was at work. After the entire tree debacle I knew I was not going to press my luck and micro manage the selection. Unfortunately, I forgot that he wasn't here last year when the kids and I went to the Christmas tree lot and bought the world's most expensive Christmas tree. I also forgot that my husband is the cheap frugal one in our relationship and that the thought of spending upwards of $100 on a tree would make him lose his mind. I get a text late in the afternoon that says "We are getting an artificial tree."
Long story short, I had him meet me at Lowe's on my way home from work where I quickly chose a tree without closely inspecting, examining or fussing over that only cost $39.98. Christmas saved.
Oh, and don't worry about the two trees that unnecessarily lost their lives. I trimmed more boughs for the top of my china cabinet/bar and even used some in this week's floral arrangement. In small doses, you can't smell pee.




Sunday, December 4, 2016

Giving Thanks


Well, I did it.
Despite a Hail Mary grocery shopping that involved only buying core ingredients I knew I could make some kind of Thanksgiving meal out of, we ended up having delicious food, a lovely day together and most importantly a pretty table.
As I was panicking prior to the big day people kept telling me to stop stressing about not having time, that just being with my family is the most important part. While I nodded my head or responded to texts with "I know, I know" and "Of Course it is :)" quietly inside I was screaming: "No shit Sherlock. I know this and agree wholeheartedly. But it's all the components of Thanksgiving; the planning, the cooking, the setting of the table: that is what I love so much about it! What the ?!@*" Argh!
If I had my way I would be baking the bread for the stuffing from scratch, making my own fried onions for the green bean casserole, baking a variety of desserts, not just the pumpkin pie recipe from the back of the can (which I actually altered slightly and the pie ended up being amazing). I think you get the idea. To not have time to do the things you enjoy unless you want to give up sleeping sucks. There's no other way to put it.


Last year I was fine with ordering the meal pre cooked due to our crazy living situation. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving, one that is a precious memory I will cherish always. But it was supposed to be one, repeat ONE wonky holiday season followed by a return to normalcy once we were settled in. Feeling so ill prepared and overwhelmed this year was not ok because it was not supposed to be that way.


I left church on the Sunday after Thanksgiving with a tugging in my heart that I need to do a better job of seeing all the good rather than focusing on all the negative.  There is so much good! So why do the little negative things always seem to overpower it?
When I sit and think about our whole journey here how can I not feel all warm and fuzzy inside? It wasn't easy, goodness knows it wasn't easy but everything has worked out to surpass my every expectation. We have everything we dreamed of having in a home and in the location. We thought it would be out of our reach to have it all. I have been blessed here with some of the sweetest friendships I have ever had in my life and when I step back and see how they have been so divinely orchestrated it actually takes my breath away.


The dreams I still have are starting to take form and I know with every fiber of my being that I will walk into the fulfilling life I began dreaming about finding all those years ago.
So this holiday season I am going to try my hardest to see the good through the ugly, the light through the darkness and remember all the amazing things I have already seen happen. It may be the only way I can survive December. ;)

"When I started counting my blessings my whole life turned around."
~Willie Nelson