Our Christmas letter went out a little late this year. I'm guessing many of you received our photo card and letter a few days after Christmas. This year's photo card required more schedule coordinating than I imagined. Both boys had jobs and were either working evenings or weekends.
Dugger was hired at Taco Bell this fall and works several evenings a week. T-Man was hired at a local nursery as a Christmas temp. This entailed working the day after Thanksgiving and all the weekends leading up to Christmas. (At Thanksgiving, I was immensely thankful that both boys were gainfully employed.) T-Man predominately helped people select Christmas trees. We're hoping this was good training for one day heading to Washington State and helping his uncle and aunt sell Christmas tree from their Christmas tree farm.
Our photo idea for 2010 was to take a picture outdoors at a picturesque site on our local walking trail. I had the bright idea of us each wearing a sweatshirt that represent our schools. I even thought that T-Man could unveil his college selection by announcing it on his sweatshirt. His college decision-making process has been a lengthy up and down journey and he's still mulling over his options, alas no unveiling. With our days together sparse and frigid temperatures dominating, we were struggling to get our photo taken.
So with Christmas right around the corner, a new idea had begun to take shape in my mind. What is the absolute one thing all the Hatches love to do? READ! How about an indoor picture by the Christmas tree with each of us holding our most favorite book. However, I have lots of favorite books. Just ask my kindergartners, "Ms Hatch yesterday you said that book was your favorite."
As four of the five Hatches were riding in the van headed for the last day of school before Christmas break. The question of when, where, and by whom are we going to get our Christmas card picture taken. I mentioned the book idea. Doug thought of the favorite Christmas book idea. In posing the question, What is your favorite Christmas book? Doug, T-Man and Mimi answered, "The Year of The Perfect Christmas Tree". I was thinking this isn't going to be too good if we all have the same book. How will that represent a wealth of Christmas memories?
Yet in some ways this answer was not surprising since Doug and I have been reading this book to the kids since Dugger was a toddler. It has been a family tradition to read this story during the Christmas season. For several years Doug would go to Mimi's class at school and read the story to the class.
Doug and I know the author; Doug having worked with Gloria Houston for many years at USF and it's a wonderful story. The story is based on Gloria's family and is set in the Appalachian Mountains. Before the father goes off to war, he shows his daughter, Ruthie, the tree their family will provide their church with for Christmas. He ties her red hair ribbon to the top of the tree so they will recognize it later. It was the tradition that a member of the congregation would provide the Christmas tree. With dad off at war, Ruthie and her mom trek off to chop down the tree and take it to the church. Ruthie's mom makes Ruthie an "angel" dress for the Christmas Pageant from her wedding dress. In true Christmas style many blessing are bestowed on the family that night.
When Mimi was going to be the angel in our "Instant Christmas" at church, she crawled into my lap on December 23rd and asked if I would make her a dress just like Ruthie's with long flowing sleeves. I almost said yes. I yearned to say yes, but as I looked up from our mother-daughter cuddle I could see Doug shaking his head and mouthing, " Are you crazy!". I got the point and didn't make the dress. Luckily the church committee had a lovely costume with long flowing sleeves perfect for an angel.
With excitement brewing, Doug asked if I could get four copies of the book (We have our copy at home, making five.) I thought I could round up four copies between the librarian and other teachers. Now where to take the photo. Duh... Where else but a library! I envisioned one of those READ posters. The Hatches own READ poster.
Our librarian at school has painstakingly decorated our library for the Christmas season for more years than I've been at the school. She calls it the Enchanted Forest. Among other books she reads another of my favorites, The Polar Express to the children each year and gives them a sleigh bell. Another wonderful tradition. This would be a great setting for the photo.
Hopping out of the van on the last day of school, I ran down the hallways hunting for those early arriving teachers. Two rooms down I found two teachers each with multiple copies of The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. I then began my hunt for the librarian to make sure we could take our picture in the library after school that day. With my mission accomplished, I called Doug and told him we were a go. Round up the kids, grab our book, bring me some make-up, and meet me in my room at 3:30.
I forgot that I had a meeting right after school. The meeting was wrapping up as the family arrived. They headed to the library with my friend and teaching assistant who would take the picture for us (as she's done for the last eight years). As I was running late and didn't want to keep my friends after school too late (especially on the last day), I let go of my vanity and dispensed with make-up. So what you get is our most impromptu and au natural state of being. This is a true glimpse of life with the Hatch family.