Exploring Oregon 2009

Exploring Oregon 2009

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Our Christmas Tree 2010
Whomever wrote the lyrics "It's the moooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaar" (just 'googled' this and found that it is two gentleman (funny, I would have thought it would have been a woman) by the names of Eddie Pola and George Wyle) is one (or I guess two) of the few people who truly relate to how I feel about the holiday season. There are so many things that I love about summertime; the warmth, the long days full of sunshine, camping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, boating, riding bikes, running the river trail, etc., etc., but there is just something magical about Christmastime.  Seeing cars go down the road with Christmas Trees strapped to their roofs, the warm glow of Christmas lights speckling the neighborhood, the beauty of fresh fallen snow and the peaceful quiet it brings and the overwhelming and lighthearted joy I feel whenever I hear Christmas music playing are what make this time of year truly wonderful.  It is a part of my life that is steeped in family values and tradition.

 As a child, Christmas meant platefuls of cookies and candies, beautiful, sparkling lights and decorations, feasts fit for a king, getting together with the family, and of course, mountains of presents.  My sister and I were both pretty good as far as kids go, and we were heavily rewarded for our outstanding behaviour, not only by Santa, but by the rest of the family as well.  In the final weeks leading up to Christmas, we would watch eagerly as more and more beautifully wrapped presents would find their way under the tree.  My sister and I would dig through them every so often, rejoicing every time we found one with our names on it, and counting how many we each had.  This of course meant that our mom would have to make sure that we each had an equal number of presents, or else there would be some taunting and pouting going on between us kids...something along the lines of one of us being loved more, or being the 'favorite child.'  My poor parents. 

Christmas Eve meant laying in my bed trying desperately to fall asleep, fully knowing that the sooner I could fall asleep, the sooner it would be Christmas morning.  Despite my best efforts, I usually laid awake for hours, perking up every time I thought I heard the sound of hoofs on the rooftop.  Now, I've never been a morning person, even as a child, with the exception of Christmas morning.  As soon as my eyes fluttered open, I was up and out of bed, peeking to see if Santa had come.  Next stop was my parents bedroom to wake them, which usually resulted in them telling me that I needed to go back to bed, and that I could come wake them up when the little hand pointed at the 7.  That was torture unlike any other 'time-out.'  Could time move ANY slower??

Christmas morning meant that we could open our presents that Santa left us, then we tore ourselves away from playing with them long enough to eat some breakfast and get dressed.  Just after lunch, my Grandparents, Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins would show up, and then the real fun began.  That's when we all exchanged presents and the kids went crazy ripping open gift after gift, screaming in excitement at every toy and feigning appreciation for the sweaters and mittens.  The rest of the day was spent playing with shiny, new toys and ended with the feast of all feasts followed by pies, candies and cookies.

These days Christmas is looked forward to for different reasons.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the cookies and candies, the always delicious prime rib dinner, all the gorgeous decorations and of course the presents...but it's really the time with my family that I cherish most. 

My mom has always made a big event out of Christmas, with decorations aplenty.  I love coming home to sit in the family room and just enjoy the beauty of her tree.  Every inch of the house gets 'made-over' in the Christmas spirit and it warms my soul.

My Mom's Tree 2010
As a child, I grew up in Southern California, and every year after Thanksgiving had come and gone, we would make our way down to the local tree lot to pick out our Christmas tree.  These days, my mom has traded the fresh tree for an artificial one for a few reasons.  First, the fire hazard and clean-up of a real tree.  Having needles all over the house is something she couldn't really stand, being the perpetually clean person she is.   Second, there is the simplicity an artificial tree brings as there is no need to have to string lights on and off the tree every year since they can remain in place.  This is invaluable time saved, as transforming every room of her beautiful home into a Christmas wonderland takes weeks of dedication to the task, and any time that can be saved in the process is priceless.  Finally, trying to find a fresh, real tree that could house all of her ornaments without buckling under the load would be practically impossible.  My dad always jokes that after she gets finished decorating the tree, the actual tree can no longer be seen.  There is some truth to this, as I believe the ornament to tree ratio is through the roof, but the finished product is spectacular.

Bringing Home the Tree
Now that I am a grown, married woman with a home of my own, I have gone back to my roots and drag my husband out to the tree lot every year in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  Many families in the Pacific Northwest buy a pass to go out into the woods in search of the perfect tree, and while I love the idea of this, there are a handful reasons that I stick to the tree lots.  First, it was the family tradition I had as a child.  Growing up outside of Los Angeles made it just a tad bit difficult to go to the woods to pick out a tree, so to the tree lot we went.  Second, the trees are always gorgeously full and perfectly shaped.  Third, it helps the local economy as Oregon is one of the top Christmas Tree producing states (just another reason why I love Oregon).  My final reason is the most important, and it is that I can't bring myself to go cut down a little tree out in the woods when there are gorgeous trees that are grown on farms for the specific purpose of becoming Christmas trees.  These trees are cut down and brought into the city and sold at the tree lots.  It breaks my heart to see trees that are still sitting in the tree lot the day before Christmas, knowing that they weren't chosen and didn't get to fulfill their purpose.  Why cut down a perfectly good tree in the forest when there are already ones that were cut and will go to waste if not bought at the tree lots?  This may sound extremely silly to some, but trees are living creatures, and I think of them like little animals.  The idea of not being picked makes me think of little homeless animals at the shelter just begging to be taken home and loved.  Support your local tree lots!!!

Our Christmas Lights
I also enjoy covering my home in Christmas decorations.  I may not be as extreme as my mom, but every year my decoration collection grows a little and I get that much closer.  Last year we won the prize for the best Christmas lights/outdoor decorations in our neighborhood, which earned us a $100 gift certificate to the Old Mill Shopping District.  This allowed me to prove to my husband that all the hard work is worth it, to which he responded 'Yeah, this year.'  Scrooge.  He is just like my dad, and I am so like my mother when it comes to Christmas.

A Creative Approach to Christmas Lights
in a neighboring community. 

"Thanks for the delicious bow Auntie
Summer and Uncle Jason!"
This year we had the added joy of celebrating Christmas with a child, my nephew.  Children just add so much excitement to the holidays.  While he was too young to understand anything that was going on (he's only 7 months) we all still had great fun spoiling him and watching him help rip open presents.  It was all a little overwhelming for the little guy, and with all the money spent on him, his favorite item of the day was the red bow that adorned the present that Jason and I gave him.  Naturally.  I can't wait for Christmases in the future when he is a little older and can understand some of what is going on.  I'm also looking forward to starting our own family and the excitement that having a child of our own to spoil will bring.

It is now December 28th, and I sit in the leather recliner in my parents family room, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree as I type.  I am saddened at the realization that Christmas has come and gone, but plan to enjoy the beautiful decorations and lights for as long as possible.  When we return home, I will undoubtedly keep my decorations up as long as possible before finally caving in and putting them away for another year.  I will miss the Christmas music on the radio on my way to work.  This always, well usually always, brightened my morning drive.  I love Christmas music and never really grow tired of it.  I could listen to it all day, much to my co-worker's dismay.  There is just something about it that instantly lifts my spirits and makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  Lately however, it seems that the radio stations that play Christmas music have really been reaching to add to their repertoire.  So many sad songs of heartbreak and loneliness have made their way onto the radio, and while I feel for the families who have soldiers over seas, how does depressing Christmas music make it better?  I think there should be a ban on the writing of new Christmas music.  I love the music from my youth and the traditional songs.  Bring on 'Frosty the Snowman,' 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,' 'I'll be Home for Christmas,' 'Let It Snow,' 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland,' 'Oh Holy Night,' and so on and so forth.  Bring on Perry Como, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.  They are the grandfathers of Christmas's melodic soul.  So in future years when you are grumbling about all the Christmas music on the radio, think of all the joy it is bringing me and try not complain so loudly. It is only one month out of the year that I get to enjoy it!!

My adorable nephew and his new pillow pet!
 I hope the holidays were good to everyone, and that you all got to experience a little bit of the magic that this season brings.

My sister, her husband and my nephew
with his pile of presents



  1. I love the holidays too. I think your tree looks a heck of a lot better than mine. I bought a cheap box of ornaments from Fred Meyer. Perhaps Next year I can upgrade them. Keith and I have been married for 6.5 years and this is the first year we've had a tree, so we had to buy EVERYTHING this time. I figure we bought the basics this year and I'll work on upgrades in the years to come.

  2. What a trip down memory lane that was! We were/are definitely blessed. Family makes the holidays so wonderful....I am so glad we were all able to spend them together. :-) - Chelsea

  3. Suz-

    I know how you feel, that's how my college tree was. I've always had a tree though, whether I was home for the holidays or not. Remember the little tree I used to put up in my room at Deltaland? I still have it. :) Still have the fake tree I had at the apartment too!