The 2014 Carter Christmas tree!
"Holy cow! That looks like the tree from the Grinch!"
That was the response I got from my niece Celesta when I texted her a picture of our tree the morning after Dylan and I got it decorated. We got our tree the day after Thanksgiving, and then Celesta and her husband Riley went out to cut their own Christmas tree the very next day, Saturday. After tree hunting, they had stopped to eat at our favorite restaurant in Miami, the Burger House, and they had sent me a taunting "Don't you wish you were here?" text. Hilarity ensued.
28 Nov 2014: How our tree looked before we dressed her up.
Okay, I admit our tree does look a bit loopy, as if sketched by Dr. Seuss himself. But I love her one-of-a-kind fashion statement. She is unique. She has personality and character. She speaks to me, and we understand each other.
Besides, the gaps between her branches are perfect for displaying my collection of ornaments, each of which have a special meaning from a lifetime of memories.
Dylan's plan lights up our lives. (We actually turn off the ceiling lamp.)
Dylan really got into the spirit of decorating this year, more than he ever has. He has fond memories of a string of musical lights his father used to drape around the living room throughout our children's childhood, and Dylan wanted to recreate the feeling those lights inspired. We were unable to find musical lights, but we bought two strings of plain lights, which Dylan diligently tacked along the juncture of walls and ceiling, all the way around the living room. I love the warm ambiance it creates.
11 Dec 2014: The living room after I rearranged the entertainment center.
The week after we got the tree and lights up, I pulled out my boxes of Christmas decorations and tackled the rest of the living room. When I was done, I found myself looking at the large space normally occupied by my Buffalo Dancer kachina and thinking how nicely a Willow Tree Nativity would fit into that space. I've always wanted a Willow Tree Nativity, but it had always been beyond my budget. Now, however, I still had some extra money from teaching an extra class on my prep time...
The beautifully ethnic Nativity I bought in Nogales, Mexico, back in the 1980s.
The wood-etched image of the Snowflake Temple on the right is new, too.
So, three days ago, I totally rearranged the Christmas decorations on my entertainment center to accommodate the new Nativity, which had just been delivered by UPS. And I'm very happy with the results.
Top: Mismatched Christmas trees and mini-packages.
Center: My "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" ceramic figures.
Bottom: A crystal candy dish I fill with Skittles for the kids only at Christmastime.
Top: I add a Snowman to the Lighthouse, which, after all, represents Christ.
Center: New Willow Tree Nativity (perhaps I bought too many figures to fit the space?).
Bottom: Tiny "In a Nutshell" nativity and crocheted clothespin angel by sis-in-law Dana.
Initially, I priced the creche and figures for the Willow Tree set at our local Hallmark and cringed when I discovered that it would cost nearly $500 for all the pieces I wanted. I also checked the prices at our local LDS bookstore, the Book Barn. Their prices were somewhat lower than Hallmark's, but I found the best deal by going to Amazon.com. I saved about $170 by ordering the set online, and they were delivered within 5 days No shipping costs.
The greatest gift of all; the reason for the season.
Let the beautiful storms rage outside. Inside, it is safe and warm and welcoming. Here is a place where we are surrounded by loved ones and laughter and reminders of the greatest gift, inspired by the greatest love of all: the birth of the bringer of peace and joy, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.