Category Archives: Home & Family

If We Were Having Coffee…7/16/17

Good morning!

If we were having coffee today you would find me lounging at the kitchen table still in my jammies, hair all askew and my coffee cup within reach. Hope you’re okay with that because I am now in full summer mode. For we school employees, that means that “run-around-and-get-all-your-errands-done-Sunday” becomes “stay-in-your-pajamas-and-have-some-more-coffee-Sunday,”

School officially ended on June 16th so it’s taken me a month to finally get to this point. For two weeks, at the end of June and the second week in July, I was preparing for and working at STEAM camp. Whew! What a lot of work, but it went really well and the kids had a great time. Here is Miss Dee and a “friend” modeling one of the photo boards I made….

In between camp weeks, I was preparing and finishing up art work and projects for the second week and celebrating July fourth so now, this weekend is what feels like my first real weekend off. The first few days my brain was in relaxation heaven! Ahh!  Just not having anything nagging at the back of my brain was wonderful. Welcome to the mind of an obsessive, over thinker!

So…

If we were (finally) having coffee this morning I would pour you a cup, offer a donut and ask, “How the heck have you been?” I would ask about books you might be reading, movies you might have seen and activities you might be involved in? I would also inquire about your work or projects and any challenges you might be having there or with life in general? I hope they are few and far between.

My last coffee share highlighted my first whirlwind week of summer break. That was fun, but crazy! My biggest highlight since then was this Wednesday night. Miss Dee and I went to see Ed Sheeran in concert! Her birthday (number 19) is tomorrow so the tickets were a present from her dad and I. The D-man was kind enough to act as our chauffeur since I don’t drive in the city (it’s better for everyone, believe me) but I got to enjoy the concert with her. What a great show! She has been a huge fan of  his for years but I was only familiar with a few of his songs. Now I’m a huge fan too. This was Miss Dee’s first ever concert and it couldn’t have been a better experience. She is not a big fan of crowds and noise but Ed seems to have a very eclectic fan base, both young and old, so we were surrounded by a pretty tame crowd and since it is only him and his guitar on stage, the noise level wasn’t the same as most other concerts I’ve attended! We really had a blast dancing and singing along and I’m so glad she chose to share this memory with me!

In other news, Mr D was down for the count with strep throat last week. His temp reached 103! I know it’s just the bodies way of getting rid of an infection, but high temperatures  freak me out! He missed almost a full week of work and spent most of his time curled up on the couch while I tried to force food and juice on him! Even at 21 years old, he is still my baby when he gets sick! Thankfully, he is back to normal and actually just got home from the beach himself last night.

He and Miss Dee are enjoying having all their friends home on college break. I love having the crowd back around too (except when they come and go in the wee hours and hubby and I are trying to sleep)!

Okay, If we were having coffee, I would probably feel the need to get on with my day by now. The first few weeks of summer have been too crazy to even bother looking at my Bucket List, all though I’ve checked off a few things without even trying. So maybe I’ll take a look at that today….or tomorrow. Mostly I guess, I should put on some clothes, brush my teeth and try to be productive!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope your weeks is awesome! Don’t forget to visit either  Nerd in the Brain or Part Time Monster (the ladies are co-hosting this week) so you can check out the rest of the Coffee Share Posts! 

If We Were Having Coffee…6/24/17

Whew!

If we were having coffee…I would hurry you in and start off by appologizing for my slightly disheveled appearance. At 6:30 this morning we were awaken to beeping cell phones issuing a tornado warning! Not the most relaxing way to start the day. Luckily, though the conditions were favorable, no tornados actually formed. Miss Dee and I sat in the basement family room watching the news untill the warning expired. The D-Man, who is much more of a thrill seeker, watched from the den window. Mr D never even made it out of bed. Pretty sure he could sleep through most anything.

Anyway, at this point in time, hours later, as I fill your cup with some nice strong French roast and offer you a donut, the skies have cleared. Young Mr D has left for work, D-Man has headed back to bed and Miss Dee having just climbed back out of bed herself, is watching YouTube videos. She will be off to work in a few hours herself. I really kind of love this time of year when hubby and I stay home and the kids go off to make a living. Ahhh, good times….

A cloudy view of the Freedom Tower as seen from Hoboken

If we were having coffee…we could catch up with each other’s past few weeks. I don’t know about you but mine have been quite busy! We finished up the school year (hooray) on the 16th, then spent the next day visiting D-man’s step-sister in Hoboken celebrating my father-in-law’s 75th birthday. Torrential downpours made the  drive a bit of a challenge but eventually the family was able to gather for a very nice lunch, wishing him well and fussing over new baby Asher, just two months old.

Beach selfie!

Sunday was a day of rest as well as laundry and packing because on Monday Miss Dee and I headed for the shore.  For the past three summers we have kicked off our break by having a Mother/daughter get-away at the beach. The weather this year was perfect. Sunshine, sand, lounging outdoors by the sea! Totally rejuvenating.  Mr D and his lady friend came to visit one day and we all went out for a lovely seafood dinner.

Full STEAM ahead!

On Thursday we found ourselves back home, unpacking and, again, doing laundry!  Then on Friday, AKA yesterday, I was up early finishing up my STEAM Camp props so that I could deliver them for set up. The airplane board just barely fit in my car but made it to the site unscathed. I spent an hour or so aiding in the set up then rushed off to do the grocery shopping. D-Man and I finished up the day enjoying the perfect weather while watching the team of middle schoolers that Mr D coaches play baseball.

That brings us full circle…back to this morning’s 6:30AM tornado warning…

Like I said….Whew!!!!

So if we were having coffee…I would now lean back and ask “How was your week?” I hope it was fun and eventful, low on stress and high on comfort. The day here is shaping up to be sunny and warm so stay a while. Let’s chat. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Nerd in the Brain so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share!

The 2017 Summer Bucket List

Woo-hoo! It’s that time again….

For the past eleven years I have worked at a job that allows me to have the summers off. This is a treat, of course, but it can also seem daunting to someone like me, who thrives on routine. I found that instead of being productive with my time, I was wandering around half-doing a lot of stuff with no direction or plan. A few years ago, I decided to try a little experiment. I called it my “Summer Bucket List” and you know what? It really worked! I wasn’t able to finish everything on the list but it did keep me motivated and focused and when September rolled around, I was able to see exactly what I did with my time off.

Naturally, I was ready to make another handy dandy bucket list this summer!* Several of the items on my 2017 list are repeats from other summers, either because they were not accomplished that year or, they were so much fun, I wanted to do them again! Anything marked with a (c) is something that makes me a bit nervous or is something I tend to procrastinate about and will therefore be more of a challenge to accomplish. My last day of school is this Friday, June 16th so that means that on June 17th I’ll be off and running! Wish me luck!

BEHOLD THE 2017 SUMMER BUCKET LIST!!

1. Take at least six day trips (parks, beach, etc)
2. Clean out and organize the household file cabinet
3. Repaint the living room walls
4. Travel some where by train
5. Ride a train into the city (c)
6. Create at least six art projects⭐️⭐️
7. Visit at least 2 museums
8. Take care of some “self maintenance” by catching up on yearly physicals.⭐️
9. Clean out and update the kitchen pantry. ⭐️
10. Go canoeing or kayaking
11. Have at least six lunch dates with friends or family
12. Go zip-lining (c)
13. Walk on the beach⭐️
14. Have a picnic somewhere next to the water
15. Have a romantic weekend away with my Hubby
16. Join a book club and attend meetings monthly⭐️
17. Maintain my newly planted herb garden and use the herbs often (c)
18. Attend the theater at least three times (films or plays)⭐️⭐️
19. Try to awaken my inner “chef” by researching and attempting some new recipes. (c)
20. Experience a ride in a hot air balloon (c)
21. Finish organizing and labeling our family tree and photos
22. Visit a local winery and enjoy a wine tasting.
23. Listen to some live music, preferably outdoors
24. Go dancing with my Hubby
25. Catch up on a full season of the “Once Upon a Time” TV show with Miss Dee (we got a little behind!)

*BTW It would be super awesome to have some company on this adventure so feel free to make your own list if you’re so inclined.

We can compare notes and cheer each other on! 😊

If We Were Having Coffee…6/3/17

Good afternoon!

If we were having coffee you would find me perky and pleasant today because, finally, finally, finally we could enjoy our visit out on the porch! The weather here in Jersey, following a rainy morning, is sunny and mild and yesterday, the D-Man liberated all the outdoor furniture from the garage. I was so happy to see my Adirondack chair I would have kissed it, had it not been covered with spider webs! Don’t worry though, everything now is clean and fresh and quite sit-able! So let’s fill up your cup, put our feet up on the porch rail and do some catching up.

For me, the last week or so has mostly been about staying motivated while the school year winds down. Two weeks to go. The students have checked out mentally and the daily routine has been one interruption after another. We’ve had some end of year testing, spring concerts, visiting bands from the high school and mifddle school as well as field trips and picnics. Next week is even busier. At least it will make the days move quickly. The end of the school year can’t come soon enough because we are in the midst of a severe pencil shortage! I swear the kids must be eating them or selling them on the black market because everytime you turn around, the supply cups are empty and no one has any in their desks or back packs. I’m thinking perhaps a black hole of some kind?! Anyway, we need to finish up the year before other items start being sucked in, staplers, notebooks, the laminator! Yikes!

If we were having coffeeI would tell you a bit about one of my favorite students, Willa. She’s a sweet, shy 9 year old with a quirky sense of humor that she shares only with those she feels most comfortable. We’ve been friends since herfirst grade year, so I’m lucky enough to be one of those people. Lately Willa’s thing has been telling riddles. Periodically she appears  in front of me with another. Here are a few “Willa-isms”…

  • A cowboy rode into town on Friday. He stayed in townfor three nights then rode out on Friday. How is that possible?
  • Mr Pink lives in the pink house, Mr Blues lives in the blue house, Mr Green lives in the green house. Who lives in the white house?
  • A rancher has 198 cattle but when he rounds them up he has 200. Why is that?
  • What belongs to you but is used most often by others?

I will put the answers at the bottom so you can ponder a bit…😊

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that today is a busy one in our family.  Mr D was up at 7:00 and off to work (it’s a big time of year in the NJ produce world- fresh strawberries are in!) Then he had a baseball game followed by his girlfriend’s college graduation party this evening. I spent the morning on cleaning, laundry and a little online shopping for STEAM Camp while D-man did some baking and cleared out his old desk so he could organize the new one. Boy that man loves to save stuff!! You wouldn’t believe the flotsam hidden in those desk drawers. It was like a time capsule of his last thirty years!

As for this afternoon, we will be heading over to my father-in-laws in a bit to have a meet and greet with baby Asher who has come down from NYC to visit (he brought his mom and dad with him! 😉) and then,we too, will head over to the graduation party. The only family member with a quiet day so far is Miss Dee. No work for her today so she slept till 11:00 and is now sitting here painting her nails in preparation for the party later. What a life, huh!?

Having said all that, I must get myself moving now. Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well with you. What have you been up to this week? Please share! Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Nerd in the Brain so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share!

{Willa’s answers: His horse was named Friday; the President, of course; It’s a math joke, he “rounds them up to 200” -get it? and; Your name😊}

If We Were Having Coffee….5/20/17

If we were having coffee…I would ask you to come in, sit down, relax, move those empty grocery bags out of you way. I had to run to the supermarket this morning, not my favorite thing on a Saturday but my family was bellyaching about the lack of food around here. Yeash! So demanding!!😊

Anyway, shopping done, bathroom clean, laundry later. Time to chat. What’s up with you? How is the weather in your area?  It’s been mighty hot here. I thought I was melting at school yesterday. Not good for student (or teacher) concentration. The classroom I work in is air conditioned but the halls and the lunchroom are not so all day long it was like… cool-hot-cool-hot! My menopausal system can’t take temperature changes like that!

If we were having coffee… I might tell you that hubby and I are heading out to dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary (23 years!) and that he also has another stop in mind for us afterward but he won’t tell me what. Hmm?  That man likes his surprises. I will let you know next week, unless, of course, it’s not a “G” rated trip then I will keep it to myself. 😉It’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long but then it’s also hard to remember a time before he was about.  Since we still seem to like each other quite a bit, I guess I’ll keep him around a while longer.

Tomorrow, we will have a BBQ with the kids and hang out around here. This will be our first BBQ of the season so I’m looking forward to it.

Also, tomorrow, my brother-in-law is dropping off  this lovely secretary desk that originally belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

He and his wife are moving to a smaller home in June so this family heirloom is coming to live with us now. I’m very excited to have it.  I think it’s pieces like this with so much sentiment value that help a house feel more like a home. We already have a lovely old hutch in our kitchen that my in-laws bought over 50 years ago when they were first married. It feels important to keep these item in the family and I think my mother-in-law appreciates it too.

Well, it’s time to go do some “stuff!” Hope your weekend is great and thanks for stopping by. Hop on over to visit Emily at Nerd in the Brain too so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share.

If We Were Having Coffee…5/6/17

If we were having coffee this morning… I would probably start off with, “Remember me?” It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to sit and create a post of any kind or visit those of my blog friends. I’ve no excuse. My mind and life were just heading in a different direction for a bit, but now as I sit here lingering over my French Roast, breathing in the cool spring air blowing through the screen door I feel the need for a bit of a chat so….

First, as an update, in my last Coffee Share I was pretty excited that our family was awaiting the arrival of two new baby boys. Both have arrived healthy and strong- Chase, my niece’s son, we were able to meet on Easter (I was quite annoyed that I had to put him down in order to actually serve dinner!), and Asher, my husband’s step-sisters baby, only three weeks old now and who we hope to meet very soon.

If we were having coffee…I would fill your cup, offer a chair and ask, “How ya been?” Stuff has been hopping here in Southern New Jersey. Aside from babies being born, both of my own kids (is it ok to still refer to my college age children as ‘kids?’) have been cramming for finals. Mr D’s text responses have been tense one word answers so I know he is feeling overwhelmed and Miss Dee has spread her laptop and books from one end of the kitchen to the other, taking only short breaks to sleep and eat! Wednesday  is the magic day when they can both breath again. She will head to the movies with friends to celebrate and maybe my son will stop by to visit (although first he will probably spend an evening celebrating at the pub near campus).

The D-man and I, both working for the public school system, have been navigating the PARCC test. For those unfamiliar, this is  the standardized assessment test that  students are required to take, here in NJ and several other states. My personal assessment is that it is a colossal waste of time and a real pain in the A#%, but no one has asked me. 😊

My poor hubby has it much worse than me though because at his school, he is the guy running the test so he has to do all the preparation and pray that the logistic and technology all cooperate. Of course it didn’t. The computers had a major glitch on day one, putting them a day behind to start then the fire alarm was accidentally triggered on day two requiring the whole school to evacuate till the source was discovered, then on the final day all the programs were moving so slow that it took some students 20 minutes just to sign in to the site! He still has make ups next week but he treated himself to a day off on Friday, spending it down the shore with a friend. I think I would have needed more than one day!!

If we were having coffee…I might tell you how excited I am for this summer’s STEAM Camp (science, technology, engineering, art and math). It will be run, again, by my friend Jill who is a fifth grade teacher at the school where I work. She and, another friend, Karen, the third grade teacher, started the camp last summer and it was so successful that we will be doubling it and doing two weeks this time round. The themes are “World Travel” and “Sports Science.” In addition to working at the actual camp, they have commissioned me once again to make the props that enhance each week’s theme. This is the first one done:

The windows are cut out so the children can stand behind and get their photos taken as they enter camp the first day. Next I’m working on a “passport” that will act as their name tag throughout the week. I find it really fun and relaxing to have a creative project to work on during my free time.

Well, if we were having coffee…I would probably notice the time and realize that I need to get myself moving. I bought some herbs and would like to plant them in pots outside today. We also have some bushes in serious need of a trim then the D-man and I have tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight. Love me some springtime baseball!⚾️

Oh, One more thing…

If we were having coffee… I would remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic! I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

If We Were Having Coffee…3/11/17

If we were having coffee…I would (quickly) welcome you in and slam the door right behind you. There is a fridge wind fighting to get in this morning and I am determined to keep him at bay. I feel as if the March Lion is doing battle with the March Lamb. We are expecting a snow storm on Tuesday here in southern New Jersey so I guess the Lion still has control at least till then. Personally, I’m more than ready for Spring!

Nevermind the weather. Come in. Sit down. I have coffee or tea or hot chocolate ready to warm your bones. You might notice that I am using my very cool  Friends “CENTRAL PERK” mug that Miss Dee gave me for my birthday this past December. As you can see, it’s very large so I only use it on the weekends when I have unlimited coffee time. There are lots of other cool mugs for you to choose from; two Marvel Avengers , a Hershey Park (the sweetest place on Earth), another from Disney World, or Miss Dee has a mug from her graduation that says “THE TASSEL WAS WORTH THE HASSEL.” I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing. Which ever you chose, I promise to fill it with something strong and hot!

If we were having coffee…I would start off by asking you how you’ve been. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join the Coffee Share (in fact, it’s been so long that I didn’t realize that it changed hosts!) so I’m afraid I’m a bit behind. Is everything well in your world? Everyone healthy? Have you seen any good movies or read any good books?

Things around here have been chugging along. Nothing too extraordinary is happening. We are a bit excited because my niece, Anna, and D-Man’s stepsister, Regan, are both about to have babies so of course we are awaiting news on that. This is the second baby for Anna. Anyone who has been following this blog for a while might remember the shower Miss Dee and I threw for her when her first (Squish) was born two years ago. She and her guy will be welcoming another little boy to their family. We can’t wait to meet him.

Hubby’s step sister, Regan, is also having a little boy. This is the first for her and her husband. They live a few hours away, up in Hoboken so we don’t get to see them too often. Miss Dee and I attended her baby shower just last week over at my in-laws house. Personally, I find showers, as a whole, a bit of a snooze to attend and, (speaking as an introvert), terrifying  to be the subject of, but it’s always nice to wish the soon-to-be parents well and see all the cute things they receive. We a gave a gift card and books, of course. I make it my mission to start every child’s library with a few good stories.😊

In other news, Mr D and three of his friends are driving to Florida for their spring break next week. It’s a thirteen hour drive to where they are going in Daytona Beach and as a mom, I’ll admit, I’m a bit freaked out but they are a pretty responsible group of young men and they’ve planned it out well. The other moms and I have put together a “survival kit” containing snacks and sunblock and of course we will be expecting regular texts and calls while they are gone. If I was 21 again, I would see this as a great adventure too so I can’t fault them for wanting to go. Doesn’t mean I won’t worry though.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my friend Urszula and I went  out last night to see the movie Lion and I must say, if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend a viewing. It was written by a man named Saroo Brierley and telle his life story. Brierley was born into a loving but poor family in India but was adopted by an Australian couple after he got lost as a child and ended up homeless on the streets of Calcutta. Twenty-five years later, he went back to India to try and find his family. Dev Patel plays the character, Saroo, as an adult and an amazing young man named Sunny plays the child Saroo. It was one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I certainly have enjoyed our drinks and conversation! I would also remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic!  I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

If We Were Having Coffee…1/8/17

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If we were having coffee…I would thank you for slogging through the snow in order to come visit me today! I’d usher you in and help you off with your boots and mittens and immediately thrust a mug of something hot into your fridgid paws. You would have noticed already that here in southern New Jersey we have collected three or four inches of snow and that the tempeture outside is hovering around freezing.  Brrrr! Let’s just stay indoors with our coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) and a selection of fresh baked cookies (courtesy of my hubby) and have a nice long chat.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you how your week has been? What is the weather like at your home. I have a retired colleague who is spending this week in Jamacia. She keeps posting photos of her and her husband on the beach or at the beachside bar. Meanwhile I’m looking out my window at squirrels digging through the snow for food! I may have to block her posts till spring. 😊

You would probably guess that I’m not much of a cold weather person. I tend to hibernate, curling up with a book or my iPad and ignoring the outside world (and anything productive I might be doing). Yesterday I did manage to take down all my Christmas decorations. I felt the pressure to get it done while Miss Dee was at work because she doesn’t take the whole “undecorating” thing very well. The idea of Christmas being over tends to make her wimper a bit and immediately go into denial, so my mother-in-law (who is now getting around quite well with her walker and expects the doctor to give her the all clear to move to a cane tomorrow) packed it all up and put it away while she was gone. Everything but the tree. I’m not ready to give that up quite yet. It is still looking pretty and fresh and losing hardly any needles so I’m keeping it till next weekend. Besides, look how pretty it looked next to the backdrop of snow yesterday…

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If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we had a bit of a scare last night. Mr D called to tell us that on his way home, his car had been side swiped by a hit and run driver who had been swerving all over the road! Thank goodness he and his passengers were unhurt and that the car has only minor damage. He was able to pull in to a parking lot and call the police. A witness in a pick up truck was clever enough to follow the other car home and came back while Mr D was talking with the police to tell them right where they could find him. As it turned out, the other driver had been drinking! Could we BE anymore stupid?! “Hey, let’s have a few drinks then go drive on the snow covered roads!!!” That other young man better hope he and I never meet or he is going to get a very large and angry piece of my mind.  It is  certainly unnerving to be reminded how vulnerable our children are when they are out in the world.

If we were having coffee…we would probably notice the sound of the snowblower down the street and realize that other people (including my husband who ducked out a few minutes ago), have gotten on with their Sunday while we’ve been chatting. I suppose I should as well so, although I hate to hurry you out, I must wash the mugs and get myself moving. Thanks so much for coming by if you are still in the mood to chat there are lots of other wonderful folks sharing coffee and conversation. Stop by and visit.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted each week by the lovely Diana at Partime Monster.

If We Were Having Coffee….12/24/16

imageIf we were having coffee…I would welcome you to the “calm before the storm.” It is a rainy Christmas Eve morning here in southern New Jersey. The rest of the family is still asnooze, as I sit with my cup of piping hot French roast, contemplating today’s “to-do” list.

Tonight we will visit with my husband’s father’s family, catching up with cousins we see only once a year, and tomorrow our immediate families will gather here for Christmas dinner. We usually toggle between 14 and 25 guest. This year we are 22, missing a niece and her group who are promised to his family this year, and a nephew whose new job is keeping him on the west coast. No matter what the group, though, it is always noisey and chaotic and totally wonderful!

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So, if we were having coffee today…I would wish you all your own special brand of holiday crazy wherever you are,  no matter what you celebrate this time of year. Please stop by for coffee next weekend when peace and quiet will once again be the norm around here. We can have a proper chat then. For now I need to run. so much to do! For now, I hope all is well with you and yours. Don’t forget to visit Diana at Part Time Monster for the rest of the Coffee Share Posts.

A Christmas Memory #3….The Tree

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I’ve been told, by my older siblings that when they were little, they would head to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare tree standing on a bare platform in the living room awaiting Santa’s touch. As they slept, he not only delivered the presents but also put all the lights and ornaments on the tree and set up the houses and trains below so that when they emerged groggy eyed on Christmas morning they would get the full effect. I can see where this would be an exciting and magical for a child to start their Christmas Day, however…

I’ve (also) been told, by my mom and dad that when my sibling were little there were many Christmas Eve’s when they never actually made it bed! My dad usually tackled the platform and any gifts that needed to be assembled while mom did the tree. If they were lucky, neighbors or family would stop by to help but most times they were busy at home with the same task. From what I’ve heard, there was a fair amount of treats and “good cheer” flowing as well. I suppose they did need something to keep them motivated.

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By the time I came along (12 years after my oldest sister) my parents had pretty much burned themselves out on that whole “putting the tree up on Christmas Eve” nonsense and, since my birthday was just a few days before Christmas, we began a new tradition of having the tree up in time for that. I always felt like the tree was part of my birthday celebration. It is still my favorite part of the holiday season.

When I was around 12 or 13, it became my job to go with my dad to pick out our tree. I think my mom had run out of patience years earlier and was eager to step aside. Usually we started at the closest lot, sized up a dozen or so newly cut trees, testing branch strength and freshness, making sure the trunk was straight and not too wide for the stand. Dad would haggle a bit with the tree guy and then decide none of the trees at that lot was good enough. We then performed the same routine at  a half a dozen other tree lots, testing and haggling. Inevitably, we’d end up back at the very first lot with the very first tree we had sized up back at the beginning!

This weekend, D-man and I ventured out to the tree farm where our son has been working for the last few holiday seasons, to pick out our tree. We don’t do artificial trees. Never. Nor do my sisters. That’s just the way it is. We have two small artificial trees elsewhere in the house but the main tree has to be real. To me, each Christmas tree is unique and has its own personality. I don’t want it to be perfect and I certainly don’t want it to be just the same as last year’s. Where’s the fun in that.

I know that artificial trees have all kinds of advantages. Believe me, I think about that when I’m still discovering pine needles in February. Certainly, they’re more convenient and the branches are all strong and even. The symmetry certainly appeals to my perfectionist tendency but the fact is that nothing brings back Christmas memories for me faster than the smell of a live tree. All I need to do is open my bedroom door each morning and let that scent wash over me. Suddenly I’m a kid again back at that Christmas tree lot, rating trees with my dad, strapping it to the roof of our Ford with much more rope than was probably necessary, and singing Christmas caroles all the way home at the top of my lungs. In short, Christmas is once again filled with magic.