Thursday, January 14, 2010

Celebrating The Season

T-man and Mimi alternate years for the honor of putting up the tree topper. This year Mimi wanted to hang ribbons from the tree like the fancy ones at the Festival of Trees. This was a first with draping ribbon on the tree.

This year we took down our Christmas Tree on January 2nd and 3rd. I personally like to observe the full Christmas season ending on the twelfth day of Christmas, the Epiphany. For years we have left out decorations up through the Epiphany. Some years the time slipped by and we didn't take things down until the MLK holiday and once I think it was the last week of January.

This year I knew we would be busy as we got back into the school routines. And this holiday break for me was one of completing projects and organizing the messes I had allowed to pile up. In the cleaning and organizing spirit, I was ready to put away some of the Christmas decorations. The tree is a time consuming project so Doug and I thought we should go ahead and take it down before school started back. We have at least three tubs of ornaments and most have their own special box. So each ornament get placed in its box and then in the big tub. Placement of the ornaments is very important so that you can get the most ornaments possible into the tub. Then you have the strings of lights and they go in a different tub. Finally we take down the branches of the artificial tree, flatten them out, and put them in the cardboard tree box. Unfortunately we can't have a real tree because I am terribly allergic to evergreen trees.

I bemoan this time consuming task because of the time involved and probably because it represents the end of the Christmas Season. This year most of the ornaments came from one tub. We have more ornaments that tree space. The tub we have used the last couple of years is the one that is comprised mostly of the kids ornaments, some keepsake ornaments from Doug's childhood, and our Christopher Radko collection.

In getting ready to take down and pack up the ornaments, I took all the boxes out of the main ornament tub and laid them on the couch, coffee table, and floor. Then I'd take a box and hunt for that particular ornament. Place the ornament in it's bubble wrap, or tissue paper, or plastic mold and then into the box. Finally I'd stack it in the tub.

Most of the kid ornaments are from Hallmark. Every year since Dugger's birth we've gotten each child an ornament to represent that year. The first five years we would get them the collection from the baby's Christmas line. Then the kid's began to pick out their own ornaments.

As I was putting them away this year it was like going through our lives all over again. The three miniature Star Wars box set characters stood out. These are from the original first three movies. I remember how the boys loved those movies. It was one of the first common interests we shared. They were wrapped up in the movies I loved as a teenager. I also remember the Walker getting it's leg broken and T-Man thinking I could fix this teeny tiny leg. It sat out for the rest of the year as I tried different glues all with no success. I thought of throwing it way but didn't. It hangs on our tree to this day with a missing leg.

Others that stand out are Mimi's American Girl Samantha doll. We took her to Chicago that year to buy her first American Girl doll, Samantha, for her birthday and we have the ornament as a keepsake.

T-man's Pokemon ball. I remember buying cards, plastic figures, movies, and taking them on Saturdays to play Pokemon tournaments at Toys R Us. I also can't forget T-man's Lion King ornament he bought in Chicago when he went to his first play.

Dugger has Harry Potter's owl that grandma gave him. We had a great time reading the Harry Potter series together, going to midnight book releases at the book stores, and seeing the movies.

Dugger has a collection called Frosty Friends. Mimi has a collection of angels. T-Man is more eclectic and has sport figures, super heroes, and movie characters.

The task of putting away the tree became a time of reminiscing, laughing, and the telling of stories. It ended up being a fun way to wrap up Christmas for another year.

P.S. I don't completely put Christmas away for the year. Here is my Christmas all year long ornament tree. I put up my beach collection at Christmas time and sometimes they make a second appearance in the summer. Many of these ornaments my sister gave me and a couple came from California when Doug and I went to a conference. I found my fisherman's net and canoe one year after Christmas at Dillards. I leave the net on the tree all year long. It's my Christ reference. Come follow me and I'll make you fishers of men.

Here's a thought maybe I'll post a picture of my tree as I change it every couple of months.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Growing Up

Today was circus practice at school. Mimi participates in several acts and T-Man continues to help with theses circus acts; cylinder, globes, and rolla bolla. T-man and his friend from elementary school began volunteering their expertise during their Freshman year and have continued to work with the circus program at our K-8 school. This post is about them.

T-Man entered our school when he was in the fifth grade and that's when he met this friend. They've celebrated birthdays, eighth grade graduation, participated in the zoo program, traded books, and attended tennis classes to name a few of the many things they have enjoyed as friends. His friend has even graciously contacted us first to sell his hand me down game systems (for a good price).

So here's the gist of my story. As my children have grown, I still see them as my children. Little kids really. It's hard to gage on a day to day basis the changes in their features, physique, and mental maturity. Of course you continue to buy bigger clothes, bigger shoes, and more food. But notice the changes? Not so much. Sometimes you can't keep them in pants and shoes that fit. Later you realize you haven't bought them a pair of dress shoes or jeans in a year (boys).

Of course the day they need a razor, start their period, get their driver's license, rescue you when your car dies, don't go to school with you because they started their first day of high school or college; then you notice, at least for a few days. Yet they are still your kids, your babies. Their long time friends tend to fall in this category as well. And for me their friends and family members from other states fall into a time warp. I imagine them as the little kids they were when we last spent time with them. Even though my kids have grown and changed those kids are forever in my mind as these little preschoolers; at least until Doug shows me an article in the online paper where they've signed a golf scholarship, baseball scholarship, etc.

How does the circus fit into the the aging of my children and their friends? Keep on reading... It was just another circus Wednesday in November. Mimi had rushed in after school popped popcorn and headed off to circus practice with her bag. T-Man and his friend stopped by my room after school on their way to the gym for circus leaving their backpacks in my room and grabbed waters from my refrigerator as they head to the gym. I had an hour of peace, quiet, the Internet, and a classroom to myself. After an hour and no kids I began to get restless and wondered how long it would be till they finished up.

As I wandered down the hall to gym so I could get an idea of how much longer they kids would be, I ran into T-Man's friend. He says to me "Hey, did T-Man ask you about your hang tag (my parking tag for the school's 90 minutes parking spots)?" I said, "No." And I'm thinking why would T-Man ask me about my hang tag.

Friend says, "Well we usually walk from our school here but now it's getting cold and I drove T-Man over and we had to park at the parking meter spaces. If we had your hang tag we could park in the school lot and not get cold walking over."

I was stunned by this request. I couldn't answer this kid for a full minute. I know I had that deer in the headlights look after he asked me for my hang tag on Wednesdays.

As I'm standing there in shock he begins to rapidly explain that since he drives himself to high school he would have to walk back to the high school lot after circus practice in the COLD or I would feel the need to drive him over to the high school Junior lot. This way he (and T-Man) would stay out of the harsh elements and save me driving time as well.

I recover and I cry out, "You're killing me here!! What happened to my babies? Weren't you just a fifth grader yesterday??? Does you mom know you're driving?!"

He laughs and says, "If you give T-man your hang tag on Wednesday mornings then I'll give it back to him on Thursday mornings."

I just shake my head and say sure. I can't have my babies getting cold.

Here are the boys as they headed off Dec. 26th for 10 days in Costa Rica.
Anyway they are great kids and are growing up whether I'm ready or not.