I wrote this post before the New­town shoot­ing took place. I’m shocked and hor­ri­fied by it and can’t even begin to imag­ine what the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims, the sur­vivors, and their fam­i­lies are going through right now. I am inspired by the courage and sac­ri­fice of the teach­ers and staff of the school dur­ing the shoot­ing and how the com­mu­nity of New­town has come together in the face of this tragedy. I still wanted to share what I wrote about our hol­i­day prepa­ra­tions. I also still believe there is more good in peo­ple and the world than evil. The fol­low­ing is my orig­i­nal post.

Close-up of our Christmas tree.

I love the win­ter hol­i­day sea­son, because that is the time of year most peo­ple remem­ber to be kinder. There is a feel­ing of antic­i­pa­tion and hope in the air. Since we cel­e­brate Christ­mas, I can also lis­ten to all the Christ­mas songs I want with­out get­ting a raised eye­brow or a com­ment about how it’s not time for that now. I ask you, what is wrong with lis­ten­ing to “White Christ­mas” in July? The lyrics from my favorite Christ­mas song, “The Secret of Christ­mas”, should be taken to heart no mat­ter what time of year it is: “So, may I sug­gest the secret of Christ­mas? It’s not the things you do at Christ­mas­time, but the Christ­mas things you do all year through.”

Our main Christmas tree.

Johann helped me dec­o­rate the house. A lot of our dec­o­ra­tions are hand­made and we have a lot of happy mem­o­ries asso­ci­ated with them. The pinecone gar­lands he and I made from pinecones we col­lected our­selves are over the win­dows. The lit­tle brick-a-brack dec­o­ra­tions are in their places. The pinecone wreath Johann and I made last year is on the front door, although my favorite wreath is the one we made years ago out of green con­struc­tion paper cut out trac­ings of Johann’s hand­print and a red piece of rib­bon I saved from a present we received. I hung that one on the inside of the front door. The stock­ings are up. We spent last week­end pol­ish­ing the last of the sil­ver sleigh bells to hang on the gar­land we drape across the tops of our 7 foot tall book­cases. Now Johann can truly appre­ci­ate the mean­ing of one of his anal­ogy exer­cises– bur­nish: sil­ver :: whet:knife.

Johann's hand wreath.

One bunch of our silver sleigh bells.

Our two table top trees and the 6 foot tall tree are dec­o­rated. The 3 foot goose feather tree always holds the minia­ture antique set from my Grand­mother and the other small antique orna­ments I’ve col­lected over the years. The other table top tree is in Johann’s room with the paper snowflake orna­ments he and I made last year and a sil­ver origami star at the top.

My monarch butterfly ornament.

We have too many orna­ments to be able to put them all on the large tree. It is an eclec­tic mix of Ger­man wooden orna­ments, crys­tal snowflakes, antique and new blown glass orna­ments, beeswax and paper orna­ments we made our­selves, and all the odd ones from trav­el­ing and gifts. Seems as though it’s time to get another large tree so we can dec­o­rate by theme and get all of our orna­ments out. Maybe next year.

Our advent wreath.

Time is fly­ing by too quickly. The sec­ond can­dle on the advent wreath has already been lit. More than half of the tabs on the paper advent cal­en­dars are open. (We have 9 dif­fer­ent ones, as Johann thought we couldn’t pos­si­bly cel­e­brate advent with just one.) Johann and I are still paint­ing the draw­ers on his new advent cal­en­dar. He is still get­ting his lit­tle presents every day, but I can’t fill it up all the way until we are done paint­ing it. I don’t want the Christ­mas sea­son to go by so fast. I want to be able to savor my favorite win­ter hol­i­day. We may be strug­gling, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make our own Christ­mas magic. Besides, it hasn’t snowed for us yet. I am still hop­ing for a white Christ­mas. And we need to make snow angels!

More pic­tures can be viewed at Eric’s Flickr page.