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Have a Real Christmas, Philly Style

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Don’t you just love when things work out better than you even expected? Like maybe when you take your chances on Expedia, their little map, and the best hotel you can find under $100 a night? And then it turns out to be one of the greatest locations in the city. Oh, and the bed is by far the most comfortable bed you’ve ever slept in. And the hotel bartender makes a mad Old Fashioned (which is important, you see, because I’m a whiskey girl). Plus, it turned our our rooms were about 60% off and that means we really lucked out.

The majority of our weekend was spent visiting my in-laws in Philadelphia, a city I’ve grown to be on speaking terms with, but I’ve hated the city my whole life. Mainly because it’s always been so dirty whenever we’d take field trips up there for school. And it does, truly, have a smell. But, anyway, Philadelphia and I have leveled the field and I pretend it doesn’t stink and the city has, over the past few trips, showed me some fun times. So there’s that. Philadelphia. And Le Meridien. Great hotel.

Once we stumbled out of bed Saturday morning, we crossed the street to the German Christmas market right outside of City Hall and stumbled across this delightful Christmas tree farm. Oh, it was so cute with city apartment size tabletop Christmas trees and tons of wreaths and just all things Christmas greenery. But the prices! Yikes. Reminded me why, in just one solitary price tag, why I could never live in the city. Plus, apparently you can’t have a real Christmas without a real Christmas tree and that doesn’t sound fair to me.

I like my fake tree. She’s hanging in there pretty good. But, the whole point of this is, I thought you’d like to see their sign. That’s it, really. I wrote this entire blog post, threw in a few extra pictures, and hit publish just because I wanted to share their cute sign with you. Um, that is all.

A Christmas Decorating Extravaganza {Pt. 2}

Meet Willie.

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Our super awesome pine cone friend from Carlee over at Life Smith. Willie fit in right away on our tree. What is it about receiving an ornament that stirs up the most basic of Christmas cheer? It doesn’t matter how sparkly, how festive, how stupid or beautiful the ornament is. I mean, even Charlie Brown understood the importance of an ornament. One single red ball. Cheers everyone right up.

Something tells me this will be a holiday none of us forget. And with all of the love and happiness and cheer, there will be a heaviness and anger that trail with it through the rest of our years. I don’t have an answer for fixing that.

But take a look at the ornaments on your tree. Or on the tree at Starbucks or the gym. And let them help you smile. Simple, raw smiles. Nostalgic smiles and excited smiles and remember all of those simple gifts.

And decorate, people. Brighten this world with lights. Find smiles behind ornaments. Hug your friends and family with garlands and ribbons and strings of cranberries and popcorn and paper chains and just, well, hug them. Even that little tree, that little wooden one, all it needed was a child’s blanket and that bright red ball. And all was right in the world. Charlie Brown got it. Just decorate.

Simple Gifts by Yo-Yo Ma on Grooveshark

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… and bake for your work’s cookie swap. Just try not to eat them all in one night.

In case you didn’t see A Christmas Decorating Extravaganze {Pt 1}

In case you didn’t see the beginnings of our Christmas tree.

Happy Christmas week. 

The 2012 Byland Family Christmas Spectacular

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Three years ago we bought our first Christmas tree. It was our second Christmas in the house but we’d spent our first holiday mid-move in the depths of snow-mageddon. Buying a tree is sort of out of the question when you are knee deep in hardwood floor installations and furniture deliveries. So there we were. Buying our first tree.

At Lowes.

Please don’t judge me for owning a fake tree. Ahem. Artificial. It sounds better. Believe me, I’ve judged myself enough for an entire lifetime. But it’s better for the environment. And it came pre-lit. And it just paid for itself this third go-round. I mean, a decent 8 foot Fraser Fur isn’t exactly cheep. Plus, Misha has asthma and is highly allergic to pine. So a plastic Christmas will be had.

We love our giant mass of pre-lit plastic. When she’s set up and glowing in the corner of the living room, everything seems right with the world. Even if just for one month.

So here she is, three years old. There’s a chunk of branches that we hid in the back that just don’t seem to want to light up. And she’s sagging a bit unlike she’s ever done before. But she’s still our tree. And we love her so.

Ok, Alex. Time to get off your new iphone and decorate that tree! (It’s called Falldown, and it’s a silly little game where you let a metal ball drop down a wooden maze, and he’s obsessed).

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(ps not too shabby for amateur hour, manual mode, no flash, Christmas tree photography, huh? This girl’s starting to get the hang of it… s-t-a-r-t-i-n-g….)

Christmas has arrived.

The air is thick with pine from the wreath hanging on the door.  The amber light of the tree replaces any need (or desire) for turning on a lamp.  Baci and Misha carefully taste test each and every branch they can reach from the ground.  Gifts take their place wrapped with ties and bows under the tree.  Do not open ‘til Christmas.  Nutcrackers stand astute, guarding the television.  The DVR is full (keyword: Christmas).  Growing from the top of our shelves is a village- complete with a one room schoolhouse, a church and plenty of birch trees.  The tiny little lights shine bright down on us.  We have a little orphaned tree with a single red ball in our dining room.  “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love,” Charlie Brown whispers to us. 

Yes, Christmastime is here. 

*Filed under Home Life*