Saturday, January 03, 2009

the explained and the unexplained

Today I began the process of taking down all of our Christmas decorations.

Usually, I'm anxious to get our dried up tree out of the house and everything tidied up by December 26, but this year I felt a little sad as I was putting away all of the decorations. Probably because this was such a wonderful Christmas, likely my best ever. The children were asking, "Why are you putting that away? WHY?" and when I finally took the tree out of the stand and carried it outside, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

The triplets were all crying because they didn't want to see the tree leave. Henry was crying because I put him in his crib to contain him since he would have otherwise bolted out the front door and directly in to the street when I was dragging the tree to the curb. And I was crying because Charlie was at work - I was pushing myself - and it felt like there was a cow prod jammed in to the right side of my neck and shoulder.

Later, as I was packing away all of our Christmas books, I remembered that I had promised to jot down the titles from our "seasonal" library. Not all of these books were wrapped because some were received as gifts. But, seeing as we now have 28 books, I think we'll probably wrap all of them next year since I have learned that the first night of Advent, everyone will want to open a present. Regardless, all of these books will be stowed away until next year when I can bring them out and make them new, again.

With the exception of Alison Julian's book (The Twelve Days of Christmas), I have provided a hyperlink to Amazon for all of the books listed. Those with the astrix were a personal favorite and books that I believe will always be a part of our Christmas tradition.

Advent Storybook (We read one story every night leading up to Christmas)

What Is Christmas?

Bear Stays Up For Christmas

The Christmas Star

Room for a Little One

Stable in Bethlehem

Reindeer Christmas **

Gingerbread Baby

The Polar Express

The Gift of the Magi

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Santa Duck

Santa's Favorite Story

Santa's Snow Kitten

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell

The 12 Days of Christmas (We have the Anne Geddes version as well as Alison Julian's.)

Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary's Christmas Gift

The Nutcracker

How The Grinch Stole Christmas **

Bear's First Christmas

Great Joy **

The Mitten **

Frosty the Snowman

The Christmas Alphabet

The Night Before Christmas

I Spy Merry Christmas

As I've mentioned before, Charlie and I have a lot of Christmas traditions. The Advent is just one of them. We watch almost every Christmas movie known to mankind throughout the month of December. My favorites are "It's A Wonderful Life" followed closely by "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

Cousin Eddie and his full shitter gets me every time.

On Christmas Eve, we are each allowed to open one present. We have English Crackers at some point during our festivities. We read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" before retiring on Christmas Eve, usually after we return from Church and have had a fondue dinner.

We have cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning and lox and bagels for lunch. Both meals are served with mimosas. We draw out the process of opening gifts as much as possible. We open our stockings first and because we wrap each and every item within the stockings and then eat breakfast, we typically don't get around to opening presents from under the tree until a couple hours later.

We send out over 100 Christmas cards and we receive over 80 in return. This year my favorite Christmas card came from my friend, Deana and her family. After having been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer earlier in the year - Deana is now cancer free. The doctors told her that her case was so advanced that if she hadn't been diagnosed and treated as aggressively as she had been, she probably wouldn't have even survived until Christmas. But here she is.

Cancer free.

Every time I looked at this picture over the past few weeks, I totally choked up.

It is so, so awesome. ROCK ON, DEANA!!

Another of my favorite traditions is setting up our little Christmas village.

Charlie's Uncle Bobby bought us our first Christmas village house in 1993. He sent us another one in 1994, 1995 and 1996. And then he started sending us mixed nuts. For the past five years we haven't heard from him at all. He still gets a Christmas card, though, and we think of him every time we pull out our Christmas houses.

In 1998, my father sold the pharmacy that he had operated for over 30 years. That Christmas, I just so happened to stumble upon a store that was selling village houses that matched the ones we had at home. And when I saw that they had a "pharmacy" for sale, I absolutely had to buy it. The similarities in architecture were so like my family's drugstore that what first caught my eye is the two-story brick building with large bay windows.

But when I saw the name of the pharmacy I almost keeled over.

Although this wasn't the name of my father's store, it is my family's name. So is this just a HUGE coincidence, or do you think it's likely that the designer of this little Christmas Village House has been to Concord, Massachusetts and visited the historic Snow's Pharmacy in the downtown?

That's what I think.

You know what else I think?

Karma is real.

Recently, whenever I see one of the children attempt to hurt their sibling and it backfires on them, I tell them, "That's Karma."

So when Carolyn tried to hit Elizabeth and instead smacked her hand on the table and burst in to tears and when William tried to kick Carolyn and his feet slipped out from underneath him and he banged his head, I told them, "Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. If not, you will suffer the consequences of Karma. Cause and Effect."

Do you remember when I wrote on New Year's Eve that I did yoga that morning?


When I wrote the post it was morning, so I figured that since my intention was to do yoga that morning, I would. But. The day just kept on going and going. And before I knew it, it was time to get the children ready for bed. And then it was New Year's Eve and Charlie and I had to watch "The Dark Knight." And eat crab cakes. And drink wine.

So. Uh. I never did yoga that day.

(I'm so ashamed.)

And then the next day, when I woke up and was sitting at the table blissfully watching the children dance, it was ON MY MIND that I need to stop eating french toast and I need to get up and do yoga. Immediately. And just then, while the thought was still on my mind, my neck muscles went in to a spasm and I've been miserable ever since.

So not only do I believe that if I had done yoga this "incident" wouldn't have happened, I believe even more so that if I hadn't WRITTEN that I had already done yoga when in fact I hadn't, I would still be able to move my head without cursing loudly.

When the children saw me wearing a neck brace, they were terribly concerned with what had happened. I tried to explain that I pulled a muscle and it hurts to move my head, so I'm just going to take some nice medicine, wear a heating pad at various times throughout the day and keep a brace on for at least the next 24-hours. Not one, but all three of our four-year-olds looked at me and almost simultaneously asked, "Mommy, is that Karma?"

Yes, my children. This is the face of Karma.

(Without makeup. And a double chin? OMG. IS THAT A DOUBLE CHIN?!)


  1. It's a cute face, though!

    I hope you feel better soon. Many hugs!

  2. i am laughing. a little giggle only if you aren't laughing too...but if you are laughing, then consider yourself out-laughed :) thanks!

    but i really hope your neck feels much better soon. get to a chiro, a accupunturist or a massage therapist soon!

  3. Jen, I am so honored that you shared my Christmas card. I am so blessed to have survived Cancer and I could not have done it w/o all the prayers & support from friends & family like you.
    I am still so grateful for the day that you Charlie & the kids brought us those meals, the home made chocolate chip cookies and the apple crisp. What some of your readers wouldn't do to get a visit from Jen & her crew let alone meals and your famous apple crisp. Which was delish btw.

    We will need to get together later on in the year when my energy level is back up.

    I check in on you everyday even though I don't post a comment all the time. I am sorry you hurt your neck. I know how hard it is to be incapacitated and still have to care for little ones.

    God Bless you and your family in the New Year. He has truly blessed me.

  4. one of many cuzzins!1/3/09, 8:06 AM

    Lol on the double chin-- Joe-Joe's and all the other holiday indulgences will do that!
    I hope your neck gets better-- maybe see a chiropractor?
    Happy New Year

  5. You look lovely even in your state of paralyzation. I'm going to post a picture of me without makeup for a new contest on Monday and I look scary ugly. You are a natural beauty. I am NOT! I'm not even an unnatural beauty.

    I loved all your traditions. We have so many of those same books too. I'm glad it's over though. I'm ready for Monday and to get back into our routine. (Drop the kids off at school and run.)

  6. Omg Jen,
    That is sooo amazing about the pharmacy thing-- the artist must have come upon your dad's pharmacy back in the day...what an amazing trip!

  7. You are right! What an awesome holiday card! Go Deana!

  8. Sorry about your neck and I want you to know that it has happened to me also--years ago about your age. The Doc put me in a brace and also some traction--you may have that apparatus that stretches your neck back in place. It is an over the door thing and you put 5 lbs of sugar in it as a weight. It has a chin strap and you sit for about 20 minutes and it is a geat help. Also some anti inflamatory advil gel type will help.

  9. I totally choked up when I saw that Christmas card. What a loving family--blessed people.

    Thanks for the Christmas book list. I'm going to have to restock up since we had given away most of out children's books as my older ones grew into chapter books.

  10. ONE OF MANY CUZZINS!!!!!1/3/09, 8:22 PM

    JUST CURIOUS...Who is using MY tag line????

    UH, Hello people....Coleman people..."ONE OF MANY CUZZINS" belongs to ME. Who ever you are KNOCK IT OFF, you wanna be. Ya, I know I got it, brains, sex-pot figure...the whole package...there are many cuzzins, but I am THE ONE. Back off.

    Oh, and Jen...hope you feel better soon. And yes! That is a mini Snow Pharmacy. Good find.


  11. ONE OF MANY CUZZINS!!!!1/3/09, 8:26 PM

    OH and Jen....This "one of many cuzzins" would NEVER comment on Joe-Joes or any other indulgence.
    But, you probably knew that!!!

  12. Oh my. This started out to be the best post-Christmas post ever, the books, the Deana card, and then your poor little neck! Feel better soon.


    P.S. Our Christmas tradition: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Every Year. Without fail since the movie was released. I think I know every line by heart.

  13. OMG!!!!!!!! I am so excited for your friend! Congrats! Deana! What a wonderful gift!!! Hip Hip Hooray! LOVE A GOOD SUCCESS STORY!

    Amazing about the pharmacy - pretty neat!! Sorry to hear about your neck. Hope you feel better soon -- you should talk to a pharmacist....

    Great job Deana! I am so happy for you!!!!!!!! Your awesome. Thanks for sharing Jen! Love, Marg.

  14. I have followed your blog for several months and enjoy you sharing your life with us! I am very curious about something. I can't really figure out your perspective on faith and religion. You write about faith in God, the importance of Advent in your family's life, and karma! It's an interesting mix, and I wonder if you feel comfortable explaining it to me, either by e-mail or in a post. I realize you may not want to, and that's o.kay. I'm just very interested!


  15. That is an amazing coincidence about the Pharmacy thing. I know EXACTLY where that pharmacy is - we used to live in Concord - actually West Concord. Wasn't there a toy shop around the corner? I LOVED the lemon poppyseed muffins and flavored coffee from the bakery by the train (T) station!
    Awww - memories.

    My grandmother used to say what goes around comes around - same as karma I think.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  16. Nooo, it's not a double chin. It's just the neck brace.

    Way to go Deana! Make the big scary "C" go away!!

  17. Regina: I didn't realize someone had snagged YOUR tagline, too. I did recognize that someone had snagged my mother's tagline and was signing posts "MOM". Which is part of the reason I started doing comment moderation. Usually, I can recognize when there is an "impostor" and I'll delete the comment >> but I deleted a few legitimate comments from my mother last week that I thought were phony. Oops.

    Pam, you must have found my blog AFTER I wrote a pretty lengthy post about my religious viewpoints a few months ago, right around the elections. Here's the link.

    And here's another one...

    I believe in a lot of things. I believe that God is present in everything and exists in all of us. Currently, I attend a non-denominational Christian Church which I LOVE.

  18. Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree was one of my favorite Christmas books when I was a kid. I had completely forgotten about it until I read it here, and I followed the link to make sure it was the one I was thinking of. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    As for movies, we watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation every year, as well as White Christmas. White Christmas is more for the females though.

    Thank you for sharing your traditions.

  19. Aww, Jen. Sorry you hurt your neck.

    It is a double chin, though.