We would then gather the kiddos and purchase our Christmas tree. Tori was usually in charge of this part...we would always all defer to the tree that SHE wanted since she was the master of tree decorating. The years that Tori went off to college were a little more difficult to do this in a timely manner because we would want to wait until she got home from Christmas break for the tree shopping. So it seems the tree went up later and later, but the decorations outside and in the home were up, day after Thanksgiving like clockwork.
As you might imagine, since we've been living abroad things are a little different. Our first year in Malaysia, I was so lucky that the Ikea in Kuala Lumpur actually imported Christmas trees and would also deliver them straight to your house! That first year Tori and Vincent were able to spend Christmas with us in Malaysia and though there weren't a ton of places to get Christmas trees, decorations, etc, what you could find was beautiful, and so our first Christmas abroad, though not a traditional Christmas like what we were used to in the States, was still Christmasy. It was and yet it didn't "feel" like Christmas at all...even with the real Christmas tree and the kids with us. Oh, I was so happy to have my three babes and John of course all together on Christmas morn, but it still did not feel "like Christmas". We vowed to go "home" the next year.
Flash forward to the next Christmas! Yay!!! We went "home". Only our home is now being leased and we were staying with some wonderful friends who opened their home to us while we were in Houston. Tori and Vincent were on Christmas break and staying with their Dad who lives just up the road a bit from where we were staying. The plan was to spend a full week in Houston leading up to Christmas where we would then join up with John's family and Tori and Vincent and Ryan (Tori's bf) in Orlando. It was Vince's turn to have the kids on Christmas, so they joined us the day after in Orland and we would "do Christmas" upon their arrival.
So we get to Orlando, check into our rented home for the week and start trying to decorate it and get it ready for the family and Christmas it up! We purchased a small Charlie Brown like Christmas tree, wow! The pickings were slim in Orlando the week of Christmas..was surprised to find that we had a better selection of trees at the Ikea in Kuala Lumpur. Not even joking. Anyway, purchased a little tree, decorated it, had family there, wrapped and put presents under the tree.
It should have felt alot more like Christmas but in the end.... it just didn't. When Tori and Vincent were getting to "that age", the age where they started to question if there was a Santa, I would always tell them "Christmas is in your heart". I really believe that so I was surprised that last year's Christmas, even with a trip to Disney, and our families "around us"...it still didn't feel like Christmas.
John and I finally realized that Christmas is not going to "feel" like Christmas while we are abroad. We will do everything we can to continue our traditions of getting and decorating a Christmas tree, the house, etc. But once we realized that it's never, ever, going to be like it is when we are in our "real home", putting up our outside decorations and Christmas collectibles that we have acquired over the years, our Santas, our reindeer, our nativity scenes that are all sitting in storage......our stockings..yes we have new ones but our "real ones" are all sitting in storage in four large containers with all our Christmas gear. Anyway once we realized that we cannot recreate the Christmases we did in the States....well I think the pressure to do so lifted and we are now able to enjoy what we can do.
I'm smiling as I type this because what we can do......is what we did over the weekend. Thanks to our good friend Jma, who is queen of sourcing here in India, we found a "Christmas store" in the city on Commercial street. We actually found two, both had nice sized artificial Christmas trees. Yes, they sell live Christmas trees here, only they look nothing like actual Christmas trees and Bruce was very vocal this year about wanting a very big "fristmas tree". So, we purchased the biggest artificial one they had and headed home to put it up. We also unpacked our one box of Christmas ornaments and stockings that we acquired in KL, put some Christmas music on and proceeded to decorate our first artificial Christmas tree!
And you know what? To our huge surprise...it started to really feel like Christmas. It really did. Maybe it was Bruce dancing and bopping to the Christmas music? Maybe it was when he put on the red velvet Santa Clause hat, or when he pulled up a chair to the Christmas tree and tried to put ornaments way up high? Maybe it was us realizing once again that Christmas really is in your heart and seeing how the traditions that we put into place every year, though not in our "real home", really does matter and was really fun and exciting for Bruce. Yes, Bruce put six gold ornaments right next to each other on the tree and declared them "so very much bootiful". And yes, you can tell that this tree was mostly decorated by a 4 year old......but you know what? It really and truly is..starting to feel alot like Christmas!
Merry Christmas everyone:)