Real or Fake? The Christmas Tree Debate

I entered a contest today to win a Green Valley Christmas tree.  You can find the contest and enter it yourself at the fabulous Mommy Musings blog http://www.mommymusings.com/green-valley-christmas-trees-giveaway/comment-page-1/#comment-22295.  But just entering the contest brought up a whole range of emotions for me.

My dad resisted an artificial tree until he really became very sick and he wasn’t able to go choose a tree on his own.  He loved going out and tree hunting, and he loved the smell.  But I think what he loved most of all is that it was something the whole family did together to kick off the Christmas season.  My sister and I would bundle up and head out with him, making the annual pilgrimage to find the perfect tree.  For my dad, perfect was not an appearance thing.  The first thing that made it perfect was that he only bought a tree from a charitable organization – boy scouts, a local fire company, the Moose Lodge, who was using the proceeds for a children’s hospital.  It didn’t matter how bad the tree was, if the money spent was going to help someone else have a Merry Christmas, we were buying it.  And the second thing that made it perfect was the amount of laughter it elicited from my sister and I.  We had Christmas trees that would make the Charlie Brown tree look lush and healthy, but if Bean and I laughed our heads off when my dad pulled them out among the hundreds on a tree lot, that tree was coming home with us.

Having a real tree in the house always brought such happy memories for me.  Memories of my dad and those Christmas tree treks from my childhood.  The smell and the sticky pine on my fingers is the real meaning of home and family during the holidays.

I have to admit, we’ve had a pre-lit artificial tree for about five years now.  This year, a whole string of the lights are dead.  I am finally seeing my darkened path back to a real tree.  And it can’t come quickly enough.

So long $4 lattes – or not ?

Is it really possible to stop buying $4 lattes at my local Starbucks and make them at home? And do it cheaper and easier?  And would I miss my favorite baristas?

I stopped by this display at my local Target, and none of these machines seems to do what the sign implies – which is allow me to quit my Starbucks habit. One requires me to buy K cups of coffee, decide what kind, strength, aroma, and flavor I want, then heat my milk on the stove, froth the milk in my blender, and mix in my own syrup.  I don’t know how much energy you have in the morning, but this almost requires me to drink a cup of coffee just to have the energy to make my morning coffee!!   If we are taking things this far, why bother with the K cup?  While I am definitely not a professional barista, I think I could figure out how to use a regular espresso/cappuccino machine on a daily basis.  I have used them in the past, and even at 2 AM, which is when my husband notoriously gets espresso cravings and starts putzing around my kitchen, making all sorts of noises that make me fear what I might find when I wake up.

My current vote is that I just don’t get it – these $99 and up machines just don’t have the features, compartments, or my favorite barista Sandi, to get me to replace my daily morning ritual.

The Nutcracker – The Christmas Tradition Continues!

I gotta tell you, I thought this one was a lost cause.  I took my oldest daughter to see The Nutcracker, the beloved Christmas ballet, when she was about 6.  She and her father were so loud during the performance, I wanted to smack the two of them.  The only reason I didn’t is because I thought they were quieter asleep than they would be awake.  That’s right, they both fell asleep during the performance.

The Sugar Plum Fairy’s throne

Now, as if this wasn’t bad enough, this was not your local elementary school’s performance.  We were sitting in amazing seats at the Southern Ballet Company’s performance.  With a retired Sugar Plum Fairy, who had for many years performed with the Southern Ballet Company.  Can you say mortified?  I know I could.

I hesitated when Eilis’ girl scout troop leader came up with this particular trip, but it was a local ballet company, and each of the girls has a classmate in the ballet company.  If nothing else, I thought they’d enjoy seeing kids they knew perform.

Well, they LOVED it!  Granuaile sat mesmerized by every twirl and every costume.  Eilis laughed and clapped, and not only enjoyed seeing her friend Alexandra perform as Fritz, but loved every minute of it.

My faith in this holiday tradition has been restored!  The performance was fabulous, the girls had a wonderful time, and their dad, who was left home due to his prior unacceptable sleepy behavior, ended a wonderful day with good news of his own, and dinner out for everyone!

What a great day to help kick off the Christmas season!

Eilis and the Sugar Plum Fairy

Jordan signs their program from the afternoon

Granuaile meets the Sugar Plum Fairy

If you are in the South Jersey area, tickets can still be purchased to see the remaining performances of this wonderful production.  Visit http://www.balletnj.org/ to get your tickets!

Oh – on a side note – this was a special girl scout event, and it was incredible!  The Artistic Director, David Gallagher, took the girls backstage and told them the story of The Nutcracker.  He showed them some of the incredible costumes, explaining that some of the fabrics used cost $50 a yard!  After a demonstration by some of the ballerinas, he took the kids out to the theatre to see the dancers warm up, and he explained every step and every excercise.  When it was all over, the girl scouts got to line up and have their photos taken on stage with the Sugar Plum Fairy herself!  The kids LOVED it!

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-28

  • If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart #
  • Hoping to get my Algebra exam back today – hanging in with the A's so far – hoping this makes it a hat trick! #
  • HAT TRICK! Got a 100 on the Algebra exam!! #
  • @dgcampagna Thanks, DC! #
  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~JFK #
  • “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” – Purkiser #
  • Safe travels both to and from your Thanksgiving destinations! Let's be careful out there! #
  • Wondering which parent approved Granuaile playing the name game. Loudly. In the diner. The name she chose to play with was Duck. Good times. #
  • First Jersey snow! http://twitpic.com/3a1m1u #
  • @DisneyGeekDad Thank you, Stuart! Many blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving for your family! #
  • #FF @LostBoy_Craig @TraciLeigh @bjmacgowan @RobOnDisney @HsvTeacher @DisneyFrankness @imrichmiller @PartyTTParks @BufferflyBrie #
  • Heading to the Nutcracker with my girls; last attempt had everyone fall asleep except me. Wondering if Harry Potter was a better plan? #