How Lovely are Thy Branches

We've had our halls decked for a few weeks now and I'm so glad! Knowing that I'm operating at half-strength this year I wanted to get our Christmas tree up and the other decorations too, as early as possible.  I didn't want to come home from Thanksgiving with a weeks' worth of laundry AND Christmas decorating to do too.  So, although it was early, about a week before we left, we rounded up all the bins of decorations (and by "we" I mean Travis!  I sat on the couch and told him where everything was) and began the process of changing things over for the season.  
 These two were on pins and needles the whole time, they couldn't wait to see everything again and especially to help.  Ava informed me of her "credentials" about a million times, assuring me that she was ready to do everything.  
 We had to start by re-arranging the living room to make room for the tree, because nothing about decorating for Christmas is ever easy!
 And then Trav and I began putting the pre-lit tree together and praying that all the lights would be in working order.
 After a million questions of "is it time yet??" we had the foresight to put a movie on. 
 Polar Express it was! 
 That proved to be a key decision because we soon realized that indeed two strands of lights were D.O.A. Such a bummer!!  
 Trav had to make a Target run for two new strands and I spent about 45 minutes cutting out the old strands with wire cutters, after realizing the makers of the tree had zip-tied the lights on every.single.branch.  At that point we almost declared it a "no tree Christmas" but once we got past our laziness and irritation, we made some progress.  Thankfully the kids were so mesmerized by the movie that they barely noticed.  This was the gift from God that we appreciated most! 
Finally we got er done and Christmas was not ruined afterall!
 And then the kids could not be stopped.  
They became little ornament machines...
 ...and this one has never been happier! 
 We had to provide a little direction so the tree didn't become top heavy.  They each seemed to focus on one area to try and hang ALL the ornaments they loved on the same branch :) It really was so fun to hear their running commentary on every ornament they unwrapped.  We had such a sweet night doing this together. 
 Our little trumpeter and his big sister. 
I always pack up all of the Christmas books we have every year, so they'll stay exciting and "new" each season and I also pack up the 3 or 4 nativity sets we have.  This one in particular was new to us last year and the kids just love it.  It's a little countdown Nativity for the seven days leading up to Christmas Day and it's one that our kids look forward to.  Family Life makes it and it has a great little book that comes with it too.  
 I love when they play with it, it's amazing to hear how much more of the narrative Ava remembers and understands this year.  
 After we decked the halls in the living room, these guys couldn't wait to get to their own trees in their room!  
 Ava was adamant about "doing it myself" and telling me she didn't need my help at all.  
 Carter was a little less demanding but he did love hanging his own ornaments too! 
 Carter has a fishing and western themed tree...
 ...and Ava has a candy and snowman themed tree, brought together with her 4 year old artistic vision! 
 My little decorator and her work of art.  Notice especially the bottom right of her tree, it's her favorite spot!  ha! 
 They both did a great job and it's been so fun to have their sparkling trees on every night!
 They especially love sleeping with their trees on at night and we love it too.  There is something magical and comforting about twinkling lights, particularly on a bitter, cold, Minnesota night.  
After all that work we had one last surprise in store for them.  Texie sent them new jammies for Christmas and they were so cute!  Nothing like freshly-bathed kids in clean jammies! 
We thought it would be fun to cap off our day with a little family movie night...
 Carter got the movie "Robin-Hood" for his birthday from Aunt Stacie and Uncle Jesse, which Trav and I hadn't seen since we were kids!
 It all came right back to us though....
 ...and the kids loved it.  Ava especially loved Maid Marian and the love story with Robin Hood!
Like Father...
Like son! 
Nothing says movie night like popcorn and we found a microwaveable sea salt version that we love! One of these days we might venture into the world of home-made popcorn but for now pushing one button and waiting 3 minutes is pretty convenient!
I am so thankful we did all of this early!  I came home exhausted and overwhelmed with a December to-do list after Thanksgiving and it was so very nice to have a decorated home that I didn't have to add to the list! 
It's been so bitterly cold here in Minnesota and we have enjoyed the warm glow of our tree every night.  We are so thankful for a cozy place to call home and more importantly, for the sweet little people who fill our halls with joy and laughter and noise!  And for 3 stockings hanging, reminding us of another little person who will be enjoying all of this for the first time next year.  Amazing!  

I love Christmas and everything about this time of year.  What about you?  Did you deck your halls early this year due to the late Thanksgiving?  Real tree or artificial?  Anyone else with the pre-lit woes??  Hope you are all enjoying the intentional parts of Christmas.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday meant nothing to us this year and I was pretty thankful.  It's so easy for all things commercial to creep in and I'm realizing more and more how I want to fiercely guard the things that matter and let go of all the rest.  Tree trimming, family time, nativity ponderings, Jesse tree readings, and cozy nights together...these are the things we hold dear as we remember the ultimate gift of our Savior at Christmas.  
Happy Thursday friends!  Stay warm! 

No comments: