Nothing To Hide

Almost a quarter of the year is gone-so soon- and its been a time of depth for me: searching of the heart and soul. I long for the things that make us beautiful on this earth and in the life to come.

The last couple of weeks have revealed some ugly things. We are flawed. That fact is not a new revelation so I should not be surprised to see ugly surface when I’ve asked God to set things right….but how to handle ugly when it arises???

Yesterday we had the opportunity to see beautiful. Two special cousins chose to be baptized so we made the trip to celebrate their decision with them. They are young ladies on the edge of adulthood wanting to publicly declare their wish to serve a God who loves them. As their earthly daddy brought them up from the water symbolizing so much to their Heavenly Daddy my heart sang with joy. It’s only one of many stands these girls will have to make in their lifetime.

Also included in this baptismal service was a young lady from Russia. I do not know the entirety of her story; only that with great strength she told of her past life in an orphanage where she was told no one could or would love her. But for the grace of God a family followed the Spirits leading and took her into their home ten years ago. As the man who took over that fatherly role on this earth baptized her in her native tongue I broke inside. Oh the choices we make-small and large-that affect lives for eternity.

On our own home front an incident occurred a little over a week ago to illustrate my point on a simpler level. We let our youngest hunt Starlings under some strict guidelines: he knows where he can hunt in the yard so as to not hit passing cars, our neighbors, or our windows. He knows gun safety rules to protect himself. He knows to only shoot Starlings. No songbirds. After seeing a group in the tree he asked permission to go out. I said yes and continued on with my activity. About fifteen minutes later I heard a soft knock on my door. Upon entry I saw tears and a quivering lip. What on earth! I expected something bad. This little man was clearly shaken. After a hug he spilled the fact that the bird he’d successfully shot was a red-wing black bird. He’d been too hasty in his identification, too quick to fire, and too late to save one of my favorite little songbirds. He was devastated. What stirred me was his example of quick admittance and then repentance for wrongdoing. What was done, was done. It would have been very easy for him to hide his error. How often we try to hide what we know to be wrong. It would have eaten him inside and he knew he couldn’t hide it from God…why do we think we can? Might as well get it taken care of. Once he had cleaned his conscience he asked his older siblings to help him make a grave marker. They buried the little bird by one of my flowerbeds.

Little bird even earned a name: Brite T

Its marker is a reminder of the acts of obedience that form our lives. It starts with the small things. Setting aside errors leads to setting aside full blown sins …larger issues that hurt on a larger scale. It is a heart condition.

Those adults entrusted with care of children in an orphanage only to damage them in ways only God can fix is a prime example. Maybe the wrong wasn’t seen by others initially, but the results are far reaching telling the tale. There will be times when those close to us damage us, intentionally or non. The handling of such circumstances requires grace and forgiveness we can only find in the arms of a loving Father.

Our words, our thoughts, our ‘hidden’ actions all make a mark. There is nothing truly hidden, but it’s never too late to let God turn ugly into beautiful.


No Annie Oakley

Ahhh-I hear….a clock ticking. After a seemingly long, and at times exasperating, Monday the lone tick of an old clock is welcome. The youngest has been put to bed and the others are away or busy. So here I sit, now able to replay the day in my mind. I laugh. Now.

This day began too early for my liking by this boy complaining of a sore throat. He has been mentioning it repeatedly all weekend. I’ve prayed, consoled, offered lozenges, made him gargle salt water, viewed the said affected area by bright light at least ten times (to see not even a pink splotch). I’m not one to run to the pediatrician at a moments notice but my ‘wait it out’ philosophy was wearing thin. Mostly because my patience was. So by noon, on this fabulously sunny springlike Monday, we found ourselves prepping for a visit with the doctor. A one o’clock appointment awarded us with a negative strep test and an “I see absolutely nothing wrong, eat some chicken noodle soup”. Now on one hand I feel the sigh of relief but on the other the urge to cry at wasted time and no answer. Amazingly the simple knowledge the doctor had said he was fine cured him instantly. So much so that he didn’t need to drink the herbal tea I made him. He insisted he was totally better and wanted to play outside. I felt a tinge of anger rising. I made him drink the tea. Well most of it. Afterward we donned a hat and a light jacket for what was left of today’s nice weather.

Our yard is still a bit muddy from last weeks rain storms so bike riding and sports of most kinds were out. Even a nice walk is still a bit of a stretch. “How about let’s play bird watching?” Um, I’ve never heard him offer this option. It sounded relaxing so I agreed. A welcome sight and sound this week is the return of so many to play us their music again.

Once outside, I have to be honest, I was a bit confused. I saw little guy with two BB guns and two targets. He hands me ‘my gun’ and says “you ready?” I reply, “For—-??? Birdwatching?” He could not have missed the question on my face. He hurried to explain we were going to pretend to watch birds and then pick them out of the sky. A competition of sorts between the two of us. Naturally. This is no binocular in hand bird watching boy we’re talking about. What was I thinking? So we commenced shooting at our targets and one thing quickly became clear. I am no Annie Oakley. His bullseye was loaded with little BB holes and mine, well, lets just say I had a nice little group toward the top and right. Also a lot of ricochet noises. I may or may not have hit a couple of things in the distance as well. Thus began the giggles. He made an attempt to make me feel less inept by placing a new bullseye closer to my “group” so maybe I could hit that one. Still nope. I used to be so much better.

My sympathy target…on the bright side, its still good for him to use tomorrow.

It is said that age 8, which little guy is now, Annie Oakley could hit a squirrel running across her yard. By 15 she was competing. By adulthood shooting had become her livelihood. This turn of the century sharpshooter could hit a tossed dime, riddle playing cards aloft, snuff out candles with her bullets breeze, and even shoot the cigarette right out of her husbands mouth. Apparently at this stage in life I’d be lucky to hit most anything…or shall we say unlucky????😬

The amazing Annie Oakley

I certainly lost our “birdwatching” game but won quite a few smiles. By the time we came in for supper it was getting a bit late. My day of frustration had melded into laughter like the sun into the night.

Just for the record, there’s been no further mention of the nagging sore throat. I guess I’ll chalk that up as a win no matter how it came.

For the Love of Others

It has been nearly two weeks since I’ve shared a little piece of my heart on this site. We’ve had plenty of activity so I’ve had plenty of material to write about and yet, like having writers block, nothing has poured out until today. I’ve toyed with a few entries and upon starting them I just knew they weren’t right.

During this silent time we have had a snow storm dumping almost ten inches locally, the celebration of Valentines Day, a few appointments, a couple of social gatherings, and a church work day…not to mention all of the daily ins and outs of life we maneuver. The common thread weaving it all together as of late is people. Other people. Intentional use of ourselves for someone else.

Last year at this time it was sunny and warm…unseasonably warm. My facebook reminded me of that this morning. Fresh greenery was poking through deadend leaves as we walked through the woods. I remember taking in the too early scent of spring and revelling in it. I was thankful to “have made it through” another winter. It’s not typically my best season. For the last several years I have allowed it to pull me inward in a self preservation mode. Other people have always mattered to me, but the thought of how crippled going outside of my warm protected little box could leave me physically, mentally, and emotionally has kept me from my full potential. If it seems there is a lot to read into that last statement you are correct.

This year something has snapped. I don’t care how I feel; (well, we all prefer to feel good), I am not living just for me. I mean, I’ve known that all along in my head, but the change is that fear has been replaced by grace. It’s so easy to view life from my own standpoint knowing what I deem to be my breaking point rather than asking God what He would like me to do, or be, and then trusting Him for the grace and strength to do those things. Up until recently I’ve used the phrase “its all about balance” quite a bit. In and of itself it’s not a bad way to live, but, BUT, what is balance.? On my terms balance is based on how I feel. On a spiritual level balance is asking God how far He wants to take me. I may feel stretched, uncomfortable, and completely unbalanced while being smack dab right in the middle of what God is doing in and through me. Actually, that word may in the last sentence should read WILL. I will feel stretched, uncomfortable, and unbalanced.

What does that have to do with snow storms, a holiday, appointments, get togethers, and life you may be wondering..??? Let me weave a tapestry of sorts to create a picture of past versus present.

After a ten inch snowstorm I had to venture out alone to take my boys to their 4-H class because my husband volunteered to dig someone out. I was hoping he would be back in time to come with us not only because I wanted him to drive in the mess but because I like to spend that time with him. I waited for that disappointed selfish feeling to come when he wasn’t home in time, but it didn’t. It had been replaced by joy knowing someone else could safely be on their way because he took his time to help. Valentine’s Day (and Fat Tuesday) was celebrated with a greater joy by giving pieces of our time (and paczkis😂) to a few loved ones we hadn’t seen since Christmas. We then celebrated each other in our home by exchanging our little gifts.

I was also challenged a bit by my daughter who spent hours planning valentine games for her little brother’s enjoyment.

I hate appointments. They are an intrusion on my time. They annoy me…but what good does that do…..? Just go with a smile and hope to encourage someone else along the way. Typically I would let these routine things drag me down. There are some social gatherings I enjoy and others that are totally out of my comfort zone. I’ve had each this last couple weeks. At one point I even had tears come to my eyes wishing I was somewhere else…but then the realization immediately dawned that I wasn’t there for me anyway. It wasn’t about me at all. It wasn’t my party. Then my tears came because I realized how truly selfish I can be. Truly, the icing on the cake was yesterdays work day. I have no problem working. It’s actually where I’m most comfortable because I’m digging in doing something where I feel productive. I can see the results immediately. Ya, I’m not the most patient person at times. So anyway, as I’m on the floor doing a little scrubbing it dawns on me. I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing…without even thinking about it or second guessing how painful my joints could feel the next day. Good thing I was alone in that moment because once again a few tears fell. This is what I want. I don’t want my fears to control my boundaries. They do not need to dictate my normal. The link here for me in these miscellaneous seemingly mundane instances is that any one of them only a year ago would have put me under for an amount of time. In the last two weeks I’ve been granted grace to live outside of my own limitations for others….for their good. Isn’t that what its about? Changing focus from my viewpoint to God’s….what does He want me to do?, and whatever it is I know I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength. It’s not my strength. It’s not my agenda. This isn’t even my life in all honesty. It’s a gift to use…but what good is it if never given….. ?


Celebration of the Heart

Well it’s that time of year again. Our annual Valentine name drawing took place a couple of weeks ago and each of us has spent time planning and preparing a special something for a family member. I think we’ve each spent time planning anyway… the guys weren’t overly excited, as usual, but they always get over it! I’m just exercising their inner creativity…haha. As I’ve stated before, I love seeing what each person comes up with. Last years combine harvesting a field of hearts took the cake. It’ll be hard to top that one in my mind.

Melt my heart….I was amazed by the level of creativity (and glue) this creation took!

So my own creative juices have been functioning on low as of late…not sure why. Too busy? Too many other things on my mind? I’ve really had to think hard this last week so my ‘person’ can have a fighting chance at receiving something other than a bag of candy! Upon telling my husband of my struggle he had little compassion…”I don’t want to hear it. It was you’re idea anyway.” This made me laugh. I had to agree with him. This whole idea was my brainchild and no one has an ‘out’.

Since that night I’ve had a few moments of inspiration and spent most of yesterday afternoon working on my special project. I had a quiet house. I even kenneled the dogs for a bit to ensure my flow of ingenuity wouldn’t be interrupted.

Like priming a pump once I got going I started to get excited….Happy it was turning out nicely, hoping my person likes what I’ve made, and planning more things to add to our little festivities. Obviously I can’t share much of my planning yet…but I will say that since Fat Tuesday falls the day before I will be making paczkis again this year. I’m feeling the urge to bake again. It’s been awhile.

Sometimes I ask myself why I start these little traditions in the first place. They are a lot of work. They bring enjoyment, and I hope they instill a lifetime of good memories in our children. I believe it’s these little celebrations throughout life that bring smiles not just for a moment but for many to come. I’m sure stories will be retold in the future with eye rolls complete with commentary on how ‘mom made us do such and such…’ I’m okay with that. Maybe there will be grandchildren who will hear them and start the whole thing over again.

Today in church it was mentioned that we all are growing something or someone..for God or otherwise. So mocked and teased or not I choose to grow love in this home. With cheesy valentines and fattening pastries if need be.


Impromptu Shopping Trip

I’m cheap. (Correction, I suffer sticker shock quite frequently). Not exactly the best way to classify oneself but its true none the less. I don’t like to spend extra money if I don’t need to. Obviously, there are times when quality equals a pricier tag but even then I’m on the hunt for the best deal.

All season long I’ve been eyeing some new clothing to freshen up an aging wardrobe but I just can’t stand spending a lot on clothes. If I can spend less than $10 on any given piece I’m thrilled. Seriously. I’d never make it in Hollywood or NYC. Its not that I don’t like to look stylish (that matters to me to a degree) but there’s always something else to spend hard earned cash on more than a reflection in the mirror.

So Thursday evening when my daughter and I headed into town on a grocery run we ended up spending about three hours looking at clothes as well. Rack after rack of winters leftovers were priced at 50% off the clearance. That’s right folks. The moment I’d been waiting for had arrived. Unfortunately the cart was already full of groceries so a little panic set in when calculating how much extra this might cost. At about 9pm I gave my husband a call…”how much do I have for groceries?” The response was a careful “why, where are you?” That answer is still making me laugh a little. In my minds eye I envisioned a wild night in Vegas or something…AS IF. worries. I’m grocery shopping with our daughter finding some good deals. I’ve not gone rogue or anything.

Nothing I piled into the dressing room with me would cost over $6 each. Long sleeve tees, hoodies, a sweater, casual flannel, a dress, leggings…you name it. Even the tall brown boots I’d been eyeing for two months were down to a low $12.50. The most expensive items we came home with were Reebok hiking shoes costing only $15 a pair. We each bought one. Might I add- there were only two pairs and they just happened to be in our sizes.

I include our spending habits in my prayer time. Asking God to stretch our dollars and bless all that He has given us us something that is important to me. He cares. Not that spending the full $40 on that sweater back in October would have been wrong at all- I just like spending the $5 knowing that the other $35 is free to go somewhere else.

My daughter and I had the best time. Armed with her late evening Starbucks run we laughed at the ugliest things we saw, groaned when we found something we loved two sizes too small, and gave each other high fives at the discovery of two matching pair of shoes in our sizes. We will have to write our names inside of them like school children to tell them apart. I’m a little delighted that she’d even consider owning the same pair of shoes as her ‘mom’..and be seen in them at the same time!

Our biggest laughs came when I realized I had ice cream in the cart. Oh oops. Back into the freezer it had to go. We did that twice. (Giggle giggle).

In all of our giddy high roller spending I neglected to check one important thing: I brought home two right boots. Those cute brown tall boots may have only cost $12.50 but I don’t have two right feet so back they had to go the next morning. Fortunately there was one good matching pair left in my size. Apparently someone else had already bought the two lefts or I would have just switched one out. With any luck they’ll figure it out sooner than later too and run back to customer service where a box containing two rights remains.

Clearance buyer beware, but may you have as much fun as we did.

A right and a left boot!

Snow Day?

A bit of Language we’re working on today..

Well, we’ve made it through two full weeks of school since the New Year. I feel so privileged to be a mom able to stay home with two of our boys to oversee their education. Though, as many teachers could testify, there are days that will test ones ability to remain patient, kind, loving, or for that matter…civil in any sense of the word. Since I endeavor to teach our kids these things as well as hard facts in books having two weeks of trying days has put me to the test. 

After a Christmas break full of activities, sugar in excess, and new things to play with it has been so hard to get back in a routine. I spend at least thirty minutes each morning encouraging the brain activity of a third grader. Its like priming a very slow pump on a cold morning. Not to make it sound like he is not bright, he is just going in every direction except toward his stack of books and pencils. 

Today has begun this way. Again. It is now going on eleven am-with only one subject two pages in length today to show for it. While it sounds like I am complaining I truly am not. It’s just been hard to re-engage. A freedom in homeschooling is that when I see that something isn’t  working we can unplug, breathe, then begin afresh. There aren’t multiple students to keep up with. On days like today I’m thankful that we have the freedom to stop everything for a look at the falling snow. He also doesn’t realize the entire county has a snow day today while he does not. Its too yucky out to play in it anyway so why tell him? I’ll give him a perfectly beautiful day to play instead….because I can. Our year should be finished in May this way- when all of the frogs, birds, and a yard full of muddy grass reappear. These are things an 8 year old boy thrive on. Besides, we are taking Monday for a field trip outing. Henry Ford Museum offers free admission in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day and its a great place to visit. We will wander aisles of history that thoughtful people have preserved for our future. I get to be a parent chaperone and a teacher at the same time. Its a pretty cool thing to be able to show my son the theater seat Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when assassinated. Rather than words in black and white history is alive in full color. I see it in his eyes. 

When brain waves appear to be unmoving on a day like today I have peace knowing God made us each to learn in different ways at different rates. We are not ahead or behind. Hopefully we are learning in ways in which he will remember things far into his future rather than forgetting them the moment they’re scratched on a paper. 

Happy Snow Day everyone. We will be catching up with you later!


No Resolutions. just purpose.

Sitting here in the quiet (well, as quiet as it ever gets around here) my mind wandered to the New Year only hours away. The guys had set out for the last hunting hurrah before the curtain fell on 2017 yesterday afternoon so I had a few moments on my hands to think.

Ever since I was old enough to ponder time I’ve looked at New Years with a skeptical eye. That fact shows my true colors as I hesitate to look at 365 calendar spaces with peace. They are blanks. Unknown by anyone but God Himself and as I struggle to relinquish control over the year I remind myself He has each one of them filled. Not only filled, but laid out in an orderly organized fashion. Because I don’t know what those spaces are filled with a sense of panic starts to arise until I tell myself the truth: I’m not in control anyway. There will be good as well as bad. There will be things that catch us off guard and still more things that seem to not change.

2017 was a test for me in many ways….especially the last quarter. Yet in retrospect I see Gods hand guiding me all the way. On several occasions He even gave me prior warning for things that were about to happen. That “Still Small Voice” we read of actually exists, but could be easily missed or disregarded. I did that on a few occasions too…realizing too late I’d missed what God had tried to tell me. The yellow flashing light turned brilliant red as I plowed right on through with life.

As I contemplate 2018 my heart cries out for pause….not a pause of rest but a pause of purposeful contemplation not unlike that of a soldier before marching out to battle. The world continues to spin in its perpetual violence but Matthew 11:12 tells me that the Kingdom of Heaven advances forcefully too, and that it will be by pressing in that we know Him better. Only by listening to our marching orders and following them will we know how to proceed through this year.

The word purpose repeats in my head. A year of purpose. As I talked to God I said “every year has purpose…so what does that mean???” I think, for me at least., it means to attack each day (violently- meaning ‘with tenacity’ -if necessary) with purpose… Like that soldier who is thinking strategy. If our adversary, the devil, attacks with specific intent how can I expect to move forward in any way letting his attacks just advance- with me always on the defensive line. This is no New Years resolution..I feel an intensity about it. Like this is vitally important. No more can I, or the church at large, just sit on its hind end thinking its spreading a good word without ever even taking up its swords. Do “Christians” even read their Bibles anymore? Do they know what it says? Or better yet…Do what it says? I say this not in condemnation, but with urgency. The heat is increasing out there and I want to be able to take it.

I learn best by visuals. God made me so He knows this! As we turned that midnight page this morning we wrapped things up to head to bed.  Happy New Year! Upon letting the dogs out for a final time I saw them run and begin to bark. Too late I heard the yips of coyotes too close and panic rose. Thankfully the dogs responded to the sound of a bag of treats and came running back, but not before I saw unfriendly shadows retreating from the corner of our pasture as well. They were only a momentary blip in the bright full moon…but suddenly I was aware we were not alone. We had an enemy who had just moments before been very close to home.  With the dogs safe inside I alerted my husband who went out to take a look. He was met with silence. All was now well. Or was it??? Minutes passed and when our son realized what was going on he went back out for another look. A pair of coyotes had doubled back. They were making their way closer once again…the enemy wasn’t giving up- but we almost had tucked in for the night. Thankfully our son had grabbed his gun so with the snows’ clear reflection of the moon a clean shot shot was made to one of the large approaching males. He received a fatal blow and sent a warning to any others: we mean business. That picture completed my thoughts for this upcoming year. We have to be on alert.  We must mean business. In the spiritual realm the stakes are higher than ever as our enemy senses time drawing shorter and he gets increasingly desperate. This sounds dark and complex…but recall we had a moon to highlight the danger. God doesn’t leave us in the dark. There are hints, signs, warnings we need only to take heed to. On purpose.

Image of the super moon over Detroit

The Gift of Giving-Part 2

Clear back in September our middle son approached me about getting his dad a bow for Christmas. He has wanted a new one for a very long time but cash for expensive extras just doesn’t surface too often. The old bow was neither practical nor safe at its age so this avid hunter just didn’t bow hunt anymore.

Apparently the idea had been talked about amongst the siblings already and they had thought of how to make this happen. Bringing what everyone collectively would spend together, with substantial donations of their own, they knew they could make this happen.

Enter the realist. Mom. Those expectant brown eyes looked at me while I gave him all of the reasons for my hesitation. “I would love for your dad to have a fine new bow but do you know how much that’s going to cost? How are you going to get everyone on board? What about this? What about that?” His face fell and within moments of his walking away the conviction fell on me heavily. By the next day God had dealt with me pretty severely so it was time for a heart to heart. I apologized and told him I’d support the effort 100%  He needed to follow his heart…what God had placed in there wasn’t for me to take away. His desire to surprise dad caught fire.

The next couple of months flew by and so many times we thought the secret would be blown. The money came in and day by day the plan became more concrete. Within the last few days the final pieces fell together like it was meant to be…because it was. 

Yesterday each of us was a bit nervous as the Day had arrived. I had gotten him to agree to buying arrows at their favored hunting store (as a Christmas present) on our way to a family ice cream outing. Our parents were even going to meet us for ice cream to celebrate our Marine sons homecoming.. .’per his request’. Only when we walked into the store they were hiding behind a unit of shelves waiting with cameras….what? He was so confused. As the young man who dreamed of surprising his dad handed over an envelope stuffed with money the realization of what was happening began to dawn. Through misty eyes he said “I was here to buy you arrows!”…”yes, I know” came the reply. “I’ve been blindsided!”…the recipient of a brand new bow was dumbfounded..

A boys smile in the background pretty much says it all…and a downward gaze of awe from the recipient made the rest of us teary eyed.

Success. The carefully plotted surprise fell into place perfectly as a room of spectators got to see how much this man is loved. All thanks to a teenage boy willing to take on a larger than average gift and then proceeding to convince everyone else it was possible. The Gift didn’t just consist of a bow…everyone present got a piece of Christmas joy last night.


The Gift of Giving

As it gently snows outside this morning I sit watching over our boys as they do their schoolwork. My mind is buzzing with all that needs to be accomplished this week. The list seems long but I’m not anxious about it this year. If the cookies don’t get baked we all will survive. I’m sure the guys would like their annual puppy chow mix to munch on but I keep forgetting to buy the Crispix. I shrug my shoulders and breathe an audible “MEH!” 

I’m not depressed, discouraged, or feeling grinchy. Things are just slower paced this year and I’m okay with that. 

This year I’m really enjoying watching our kids more than anything. I’ve heard it said that Christmas is for the children-but what I’m seeing is the fruit of focusing on what Christmas is really about when the kids were younger. Making Jesus the center of our festivities has developed hearts open to giving now that they are older.  Our kids were never deprived of gifts, they just knew that those were bonuses. 

What has tickled my heart this year is watching our kids bubble with excitement over giving gifts. I’ve watched them save their money and slip away to the store together, or hide to view and order from Amazon lists. Having children in a range of ages allows me to sit back now and watch it all go down without my prompting or interference.

In our daughters room sits a pile of neatly stacked wrapped boxes. She’s further ahead of the game than I am and it makes me glow. About a week ago I mentioned to her that I hoped she didn’t feel obligated to purchase gifts because she’s 20 and earns a paycheck. Her response- “I want to! I’ve always wanted to have my own money so I could do this!” The end. No hesitation. Her heart is full of the joy of giving. Our boys are enjoying it too. 
The youngest has taken on extra little chores to earn money so he can get things for his siblings. Even our middle son, who doesn’t tend to get excited about much of anything, has joined the festivities. I can’t divulge his plans, but I’m taken aback by the size of his heart.

This year I’m thankful for the opportunity to sit back and observe. I see the God who gives to us lavishly being reflected in our children. Its not about things….just the willingness to be free with what we’ve been given. I’m looking forward to seeing the smiles on their faces when they get to give their gifts this year knowing the joy they’ve shared planning and concocting together.


An Oversized Christmas

A flurry of holiday activities has begun in our home, as I’m sure they have in yours as well. To hold to tradition we went to get our Christmas tree this last Sunday on the weekend after Thanksgiving. If we’re going to spend good money on a live tree I want to have it around for the whole month of December. 

Because our eldest is enlisted he is away from home, but he still likes to take part in our traditions as much as possible. Thanks to technology we have skyped the tree selection and cutting adventure for the past couple of years. I’m sure the depth/size of the tree is lost in translation judging on this years choice.

We got a later start than normal this time around so the afternoon sun was already casting shadows when we set out for a tree farm. Thankfully it is only about ten miles away. This place was new to us so naturally I wanted to see all they had to offer before making a decision. As my family trudged behind me making suggestions not a single tree grabbed my attention. Too short, too dead, too tall, too thin, too poky… I found one at the back of the lot with a mass of pretty pinecones at the top. No one else was convinced of its beauty. So onward we went. Ahead of me I heard mutual approval of a very large Norwegian spruce. By the time I arrived the phone was being held at different vantage points around the tree for a long distance decision. I was unsure. Out in a field, surrounded by other trees, its easy to lose focus on the size of your living room. If it looked big outside…????? It was as if it had swallowed another tree. Already it had been lovingly named ‘fat boy’ by the family. In my heart I knew that if they had named it, it would be coming home with us. “You guys- its huge!” I protested. Since I’ve been accused of making the annual tree decision on my own despite family input in the past I had to stop. My last question, “how’s that going to fit through the door?” was met with , “that sounds like a challenge!”….coming from our long distance accomplice (who, by the way, would be having no part in its transfer, set up, or decoration process.) Family pictures and its cutting commenced at dusk. The trees former owner took our money, laughed at its newly given name, and gave us a look that hinted toward a ‘good luck with that’.

After a quick bite of supper and the clearing of a corner in the living room the guys trimmed a bit and commenced to bringing the beast inside. Flexible healthy branches were a must in this case because they were pressed almost flat on two sides coming through the doorways. Once erected and smashed into the corner I had visions of the National Lampoons movie. I watched as branches extended farther than any of its predecessors. We had to move the TV….and it still can only be viewed from one side of the room as there is no clear vantage point through the forest of limbs on the other. 
Next task- decorating. My husband, son,  and daughter went on an emergency run for more lights. Truthfully, even with the added extras it’s still dark in spots. There’s no way I could wrap them around. The thing is over 7 feet across at its base and there’s no room to wriggle behind in the corner. I had to go up and down with the lights section by section. Ornaments were another matter. We have 24 years of married accumulation plus some from our childhood. Our children each have their own ornaments. Still not enough. They look dwarfed. Like I need some 12″ globes to hang as well just for comparable dimension. It’s not perfect. It took a lot of effort. It fills about half of our living room with a gentle glow and almost every ornament we’ve been given over the years. It holds a lifetime of pleasant memories. It holds joy- and years of jokes to come. It is perfect for us. When our long distance son gets to be here for Christmas he will see it in person and laugh. He will giggle actually- knowing that it was mostly the comment “challenge accepted” that landed a tree large enough for a town square in our living room. 
Merry Christmas! May your imagination and sense of wonder never be doused by the size of a living room.