We have a family tradition of getting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It was something my family did, it was something E’s family did, and it’s something we’ve done throughout our marriage. This year Thanksgiving was late, and also fell in the middle of shift work for E, so he didn’t get the day off. Or the day after. I was a little bummed, but we planned to just get the tree in a few days when E could get a few hours off of work.
That never happened. He literally hasn’t had any time off – besides a few hours to sleep most (not even all) nights – since mid-November. If it was at any other job besides the military, his hours would probably be illegal. I know I’ve complained about how much he works before (probably a lot) but I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure how I’M going to get through it.
Right now the only thing I’m getting by on is making sure the kids are still enjoying Christmas. They are so excited about every single part of the holidays that it’s pretty easy for me to let myself get wrapped up in it too, although the fact that we’re missing 1/4th of our family is always in the back of my mind. My mom sent the kids an advent calendar and GOD FORBID I don’t remember to get it down so they can open the day’s door first thing in the morning. And amazingly, they’re keeping track of whose turn it is and remember better than I do. It’s teaching them sharing! And fairness! And that if you touch something covered in glitter it will stick on your body basically forever! Those are all very important lessons.
My biggest accomplishment so far is that I took both kids to the tree farm on a weekend (SO CROWDED) and we chopped down a tree. I CUT IT DOWN MY OWN SELF. WITH A SAW. I did a hack job and a nice guy with his own family came over and steadied it while I was sawing so it didn’t fall over and crush me, but besides that I did it alone. Luckily the farm picks up the cut trees and carts them down to the station where they shake them and wrap them up for you, but then I hauled it to the car, into the car (God bless minivans) and home into the house. I totally failed at getting it into the stand but E got it set up the next morning and now we have a fully decorated tree. We had to rearrange because my little desk/office corner went in the former Christmas tree spot, but now we can sit on our new little couch, enjoy the fire and look at the tree at the same time. Tomorrow the kids get to start opening their Christmas books (I was going to do one for each day of December but books are really expensive, yo) and we can sit on that new couch by the tree and I can read to them about the Christmas story while I sob quietly because magic and family and loneliness and children and Jesus and FEELINGS. It’s raising my level of holiday spirit from Grinch to Slightly Christmasy, which is a definite improvement.
I haven’t had much time for my own photos lately, which makes me kind of sad. Partly because once something is part of your job it loses a LITTLE bit of the fun and partly because it’s hard to juggle the kids in public and take photos. It’s pretty easy to lose one kid while you’re taking pictures of the other one, and I’m generally only seconds away from losing a kid even WITHOUT a camera in my face. It’s amazing I’ve kept them alive this long, honestly. But this might be the first Christmas they remember when they look back as adults and I want to make sure I have at least some pictures to show them, so here are a few.