Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Trees and Keeping Up With Those Pesky Joneses

The Sombar Family has been on the slowboat to nowhere with getting prepared for Christmas. I'm one of those women who envy people, like some of you, who have their cards mailed and their houses decked out with boughs of holly by the first of the month. At this point, I'd even take the middle of the month, seeing as how this year has backfired on us completely and we're scurrying around like the mice in Cinderella to git-er-done. EVERY YEAR, without fail, I resolve to set aside my rampant ADD and tendency toward procrastination and keep up with the Joneses....And here we are on the 21st of December...

Yesterday, we FINALLY went to get our tree. Tighter than tight in the financial department (due to a year of hospitalization nightmares and lots of missed paychecks-the Family Medical Leave Act only guarantees your job not your pay), I made the executive decision to forgo the fancy nursery tree (you know the ones- you drive up and feel like you've really made it in life because you can tie the prettiest tree you've ever seen to the roof of your car in exchange for a crisp Benjamin Franklin)and go the "super center ghetto route".

Lily, Benjamin, Quinn, Liam and Clark (Tom and Seth in the background)

Since we were watching Liam's buds Clark and Quinn, we piled all six kids in the van and hauled it to our local Home Depot, which offered us zero customer service, but an affordable pile of evergreen. And it is pittiful, people. Just a step above a Charlie (Brown) but Liam picked it out and he and the other boys carried it shoulder-to-shoulder off the lot, which automatically means, in the manual of "The Good Mommy," that I have to love it.

So today, amidst major dysfunction (children playing an angry game of tug-o-war with the lights which escalated quickly into violent displays of sibling rivalry and parental outbursts) we dressed our tree, which looked fairly decent until we piled it full with 50% of our ornaments- now it looks like a seventy-five year-old woman with too much make-up on.
I can't deny the joy, however, in my children's eyes as they discovered, anew, the boxes of decor, bearing their names or photographs, or our annual ornaments, which I purchase every year, showing the gradual progression of our offspring (the '97,'98,'99 ornaments with one child, the '00,'01','02 with two, the '03,'04','05' with three and the '07, and now '08 with four -I forgot '06 so I need to get one to fill that void). I remember,as a child, how excited I would be to break into our Christmas boxes- seeing my mom's creativity spring forth-the log cabin she made of toothpicks, the pipe-cleaner cowboy and cowgirl, the hand-sewn winnie-the-pooh, the ordinary colored balls covered in cut-out shapes and letters. Despite not ever having many store-bought fancies, she knew how to make every branch special, and these are more priceless to me than any heirlooms our family may possess.

We are so blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate this season in the traditional ways- I often think of the family who lived across from us, when we were in our first house, who teetered on the edge of poverty at all times,whose presents came from a church donation site and whose nourishment was provided by the food bank. I remember walking into their home, Christmas Eve, with a loaf of pumpkin bread I had baked, to find, not the standard display of yuletide pine, but a length of garland, scotch-taped to the walls in the shape of a tree, with lights strewn all around it. Though, at the time, I harbored nothing but ill feelings toward that single-dad, whose fits of rage would echo through the court and into my livingroom, I can appreciate, now, the effort he put into giving his two young children something normal, a memory of this magical holiday, which, in its imperfection, was so special to them that night.

As I sit here, by the fire, gazing at our lopsided, needle bare, Douglas fir, I feel nothing but serene- even if we are a bit behind.


Sethy passing the time playing a solitary game of Connect Four, after pilfering the bottom boughs of our tree of the aptly placed plastic ornaments.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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