Why There Are No Gifts Under Our Tree

Don’t worry, this isn’t some holier-than-thou post about how we’re forgoing Christmas gifts this year in order to hike the Hindu Kush as a family, spreading a message of goodwill to war-torn villages. We have gifts this Christmas – they’re just not under the tree.

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The one time of year I don’t mind renting a place with a blood-red dining room.

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Yes, our {fake} tree is totally leaning to the left.

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 So why are all of the Christmas gifts on the dining room table and not under the tree?

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Because of this girl.

We learned the hard way that she is unable to control herself around wrapped presents. Violet is also the reason why we are unable to have chairs around our dining room table. We had to banish the majority of our dining table chairs to the basement last month because Little Miss Ingenuity would push the chairs around the main floor to use as step stools for climbing any piece of furniture she could. The few remaining chairs are pushed against the wall and into a corner – only to be used when absolutely necessary. So this year there are no gifts under our tree. And while the solution certainly isn’t magazine-worthy, it does capture life with an energetic toddler.

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December 22nd.

The little guy is home on winter break and won’t return to school until the new year so the next few days will be a cookie-making and craft-filled extravaganza. It’s about to get all Martha Stewart up in here with a side of Alton Brown (I’m throwing down the gauntlet and attempting to make marshmallows from scratch). Coffee-filter wreaths? You betcha. Mod Podge Instagram canvas? Don’t mind if I do.

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Since we’re waking up in our own home on Christmas this year, Clay is working up until the holiday but fingers-crossed it should be a fairly relaxed week. Fear not though, we’re not staying completely put this year – we’re leaving for our annual tour of the South the day after Christmas. The jury is still out whether we’ll be able to travel for the holidays from our yet-to-be-announced location next year so it makes sense to visit family while we have the time and means to do so.

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These last few days before Christmas, I am trying to not worry about everything being perfect or magical or whatever Pinterest thinks I should be doing as the matriarch of the family. After all, Santa will be leaving presents wrapped in paper covered in licensed characters – not exactly blog worthy but they’ll absolutely love it, which is what really matters this time of year, don’t you think?

The 2014 Christmas Card

Christmas photo cards are no longer simple prints you pick up at Walgreens with straightforward messages of seasons greetings, peace, and goodwill. Today, there is an entire industry built upon the Christmas photo card. Multiple companies specialize in helping you curate the perfect card and I’ve read that some people (e.g. not me) spend upwards of $3.00 per card. Some people fall squarely into the anti-Christmas photo card camp – believing them to be tacky and unnecessary. Suffice to say, I am not part of that brigade. I love sending and receiving Christmas photo cards. In fact, I have every single photo card that has been sent to us over the past 10 years. Our collection gets packed away with the Christmas stuff and it’s fun to go back and see how families have changed over the years.

There was a great article circulating around Facebook last week – What My Flawless Holiday Card Says About Me as a Mom. There have been years when our Christmas card was flawless – 2007 still reigns as my favorite. Now that we have young children, taking a magazine-worthy picture seems like a pipe dream. And we always include our dog, Lucy, which adds an extra layer of complications. It seems like each year I have high-hopes to hone my photoshop skills and create a laugh-out-loud vignette but lack of time (and talent) assures that a more traditional photo is used. This year was no different.

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One afternoon in November, we went into the woods behind our house and took some photos with the intention of using one for this year’s Christmas card. As pictured here, Violet spent the majority of the photo shoot running like hell. In the picture above, she is taking off after Lucy. Those of you who know Violet, understand how this picture sums her up perfectly. If Violet weren’t so blurry and Lucy in the frame, this totally would have been the winning shot.

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 And another one. Sadly, she is super blurry in this one as well.

The secret is out – I am not a professional photographer.

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The runner-up.

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The winner! It isn’t perfect by any means but it captures Lucy focusing on a squirrel, Weston doing his goofy “say cheese” smile, Violet hamming it up, and Clay and I looking presentable. The camera remote may be visible but I like to think that it sums up our 2014 – flaws and all.

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The picture on the back of the card though – absolute perfection!