Saturday, December 8, 2012

O Christmas Tree

I've been photographing and commenting on Christmas trees in the Joy household since the blog began in 2008.  That year, in a reflection on boundaries, I said:
I didn't exactly imagine that we'd still putting our Christmas tree out of reach with a four-and-a-half year old, but such is the way of things around here. The "safe" place for the little artificial tree (as safe as it gets, anyway) is on top of the stereo cabinet. No glass ornaments, just in case.
Maybe next year, we could consider a real tree, I said.

Christmas tree 2008

In 2009, the little fake tree was up on the stereo cabinet again, and I wrote a longer and somewhat frustrated reflection to the effect that holidays only come around ONCE a year -- and how do we expect our kiddos who learn things by routine and repetition to master things that only come around as exceptions?  (Christmas comes but once a year, and Einmal ist keinmal!

Christmas tree 2009

In 2010, it looks as if I had other things to reflect on in December, including what happened when Joy encountered Santa Claus in the mall.  But if you look at our Christmas Day photo, there's that little tree up on the stereo cabinet again -- and the presents didn't come out until the girls were in bed Christmas Eve.  It looks like I pulled a Cheater McCheaterpants in January 2011 reflection on Inchstones -- not having actually taken a tree-alone photo, and the tree was down by then, I re-used the 2009 photo!  The "inchstone" that year, though, was that we were able to replace the tree with a potted plant when it came time to take Christmas down -- and the plant became an unmolested part of the year-round decor.  (Well, I think she's stashed little items in the pot from time to time.  But other than that!)

Christmas 2010, with tree

Christmas 2011, and I apparently had nothing new to say about the darn little tree, and can't find as how I took ANY real photos of it.  There were other good things happening with Joy, though.  And Rose came to the rescue with an arty shot on her new Christmas camera.  Maybe she was using the paranormal setting (her charming misreading of the label "panorama")?  Anyway, there it is, little tree up high once more.

Christmas tree 2011

And now it's Christmas 2012, and once again the time rolled round to decorate a tree.  December crept up on us fast this year, and I keep falling down on the job of early-purchasing an Advent calendar (it was something that my mother used to do for me, and she passed away in 2005, and darn it if I still haven't quite come to terms with the Advent calendar responsibility being mine.  Miss you, Mom!)  However, this year it worked out all to the good, because finding the bookstore sold out of Advent calendars, Rose and I ended up devising a home-made Christmas-tree Advent calendar for Joy instead!  Instead of opening fiddly little card-stock doors, Joy gets to move a numbered sticky-note each day from the "Ornaments" page to the Christmas tree.  Rose did all the artwork, and is so excited to see Joy move the ornament each day.  Joy, meanwhile, needs some support to make it happen, and is happier to take on the task some days than others, but she hasn't refused yet!  Here's how this tree looks -- don't you just love the "star" effect of the camera flash?

Christmas tree Advent calendar, 2012

And so this is Christmas, and once again we come to the tree... and perceptive readers will notice something just a little bit different this year.

Christmas tree 2012, with Nativity set

Joy has come so very, very far this past year.  It was clear that this was a year that the big tree was worth attempting.  We were still a little bit too wary to attempt a real tree, given that there's water involved if a real tree were to take a tumble.  So we dug way back into the most-hidden of our storage -- we hadn't used our big artificial tree since we moved into this house in 1999!  We found it, though.  And Rose was ALL agog to help me disembowel the box, and put the tree together.  And Joy sat on the couch, playing with her iPad and taking it all in, in the indirect way that she has.  We called her over to help put some of the branches in, and then again to help us hang some of the easier ornaments.  She let us take her through those tasks, but didn't ask for more.  And she hasn't given the tree any trouble at all, in over a week.

The Nativity set, though, is a toy as well as a decoration.  Though the tree above it is off-limits, the creche is hers for the playing.  And she does, flawlessly making the distinction between the off-limits tree and the all-hers Nativity.  Her favorite characters are the camels.

= = = = = = = =

It turns out that einmal im Jahr (once a year) is not negligible after all.  She remembers.  She's learning.  We see it with all the holidays, not just Christmas -- she can collect colored eggs into a basket at Easter now.  She can knock on doors and take a piece of candy for her bucket at Halloween.

Next year, we're going to a tree farm to cut our own, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Merry, merry Christmas!


Jennie said...

This makes me so happy for your family -- a giant step for all of you. I love the advent calendar, too. It's meaningful for Rose and Joy even if it doesn't always seem so. P.S. I miss my mom too. Happy Christmas from your cousins to the south!

Suze said...

That's amazing.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful milestone!

Barbara TherExtras said...

Extreme Weihnachten Joy! (interpret at will)

What Jennie said, even if we are not blood cousins but sisters at heart.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

oh how wonderful!!