Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thus the Christmas season begins.

We spent last weekend decorating.


Which already marks this holiday season as different from last year, when Bart joined us from Baghdad via Skype. It was a strange and lonely holiday.

I looked back at last year's pictures this morning and was amazed by how much the kids have changed over the past year. And, of course, by how much our lives have changed. Last year we celebrated in two separate cities in the middle east. This year, one city, quite a bit further north.

But setting up the tree(s) has a way of making it feel like home. I'm not the biggest Christmas fan - that's all Bart in this family - but I'll admit that pulling out the same ornaments, year after year after year, has a comforting way of bringing home into the new house.

After our wedding, we went on a honeymoon to Mammoth Lakes, in California. We were casting about for a souvenir when we wandered into a Christmas store, and we decided right then that we should start an ornament collection to commemorate what we assumed would be loads of Christmases together.

Here's one of those first ornaments:

 And another. That was our first baby, Sammy the dog.
 We've since collected all over the world, in Thailand and Finland and Jerusalem and so many other places. I love looking at those ornaments and remembering all of the places we've been. We bought this one during our first posting in Moscow. It seemed ridiculously expensive and scarily fragile. Somehow we've managed not to break it... yet.
 This one we bought one home leave, many years back, in Lake Placid, New York.
 Beijing, China.
 Cooperstown, New York.

 Last summer in Los Angeles.

Kyra found this one, with her baby handprint, made in Virginia.
 Aidan liked the Vashon Island ferry boat ornament. We caught the last ferry off the island to go to the hospital in Seattle when it was time to deliver baby Aidan.

Every year Shay compares his handprint to the one on the ornament.
 Ainsley was annoyed to discover we have plaster handprint ornaments for the other three but not for her. She did not accept my defense that I bought the three plaster cast sets before she was even born, when I thought our family was already complete.

Even the dog and cat got involved in the decorating this year.
 Okay, well, the cat grew bored pretty quickly, but she still hung around.
At some point over the years, we expanded from ornaments to nativity sets, stockings and Santa Clauses. Because we ran out room for ornaments on the four trees. Yes. Four.

The original Santa mafia, from our first tour in Moscow:

We just bought this guy a few weeks ago.

We have nativity sets from all over the world. Rome:

 I don't know where this one is from, but Bart's mom gave it to him. It's teeny tiny - see the plates behind it to get a sense of how small it is. He had it in Baghdad last year.

 This one is from Bethlehem, and was made by our friend Annie's uncles.

 Another Russia one, bought from the artist himself a few weeks ago.

A gift from Bart last year. We're plowing through the cider and cocoa this season.

One reason this season is better than last: this guy is back with us.

 Oh, we have too many stockings, too. These are Armenian.
 And these are Russian:

Us, in front of one decorated tree.

And perhaps the best pictures of the season so far. Apparently the kids weren't tired of each other after all of the decorating excitement, because they decided to celebrate with a group hug turned dog pile.

And thus begins another holiday season.


Sherwood family said... [Reply]

We have the same tradition - I started it when I was on study abroad in college. I love taking everything out at Christmas and remembering. I'm happy for you to be together this year :).

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