Free Christmas trees.
We all had a really wonderful Christmas tour of New England this year. I was too busy to blog much about it but it didn't matter because we saw almost every reader of this blog in person. Thirty-seven relatives (including the surprise visit from GI Grandpa and Stephanie). We miss our family every Christmas so it was nice to share the holiday with everyone this time around.
Despite that, we did also really miss our own Christmas traditions that we've begun to cultivate over the last four years. We didn't do much by way of decoration, we didn't get to finish setting out our Nativity and, for various reasons, we didn't even exchange gifts with each other. We decided just before leaving on our trip to give gifts amongst ourselves on Epiphany, the Feast of the Three Kings, which is tomorrow.
Our family really likes to follow the liturgical rhythm of the Church year, especially at Christmas. We try to save Christmas activities and celebrations for Christmas itself and focus on Advent until December 24th. Then we put our tree up on Christmas Eve, decorate it and everything else, and break out the Christmas cookies. Last year we tried to stretch the celebrating through all twelve days of Christmas. This year was no trouble as we've had lots of family to see and gifts to open. But it was a little sad to come home to our undecorated apartment earlier this week and still be waiting for our own family's small celebration tonight and tomorrow.
Then we were out for a walk last night and Behold! Christmas trees everywhere! We joked several weeks ago about stealing one off the curb when we got back to DC but we weren't serious. Most of the trees are wet, dead or huge. But outside an apartment building just five blocks from here we found a perfectly healthy, perfectly little tree and we dragged it home. In no time at all we crammed two strings of lights on it and hung all our ornaments. It's a bit "Charlie Brown" but, hey, it was free. I love it.