Merry Christmas from the M household

It is just about Christmas, which means it is time for a festive blogging holiday (I know, its not like I’ve been writing that much anyway).

This is the first year EVER (and likely the last for a long time) that Patrick and I are just the two of us for Christmas (and Jeter).  I’m excited.  I’m also a little sad because it is weird not being home, but it works out that I have a bit more time off this way somehow.

I’m on call for Christmas Eve.  How holly jolly of me.

But, that hasn’t stopped us from concocting and continuing traditions.

We decorated our tree a few weeks ago.  Our tree is a hand-me-down from my Grandmother with “built-in” lights.  Last year a small chunk of them around the back were burnt out.  This year, once we had the tree fully assembled and pretty looking it was a full strip around the lower middle.  The whole way around.  I freaked out.  I mean, it looked ugly and I tried my darndest to find the broken bulb, but eventually gave up in tears.  Patrick and I opted to decorate it anyway and maybe look at getting a new tree next year.  After the tree was fully assembled with decorations and everything, Jeter promptly settled in under it, then by the next day went back to his previous routine of chewing on the branches, chewing on the wires and knocking off ornaments.  One morning 5 were down.  About 3 days after we put the tree up, I turned on the lights and lo and behold, they all worked.  Then, a few days later a different chunk were out.  Then, I saw Jeter chewing on the tree (and the lights)… It hit me… It has been him.  There is some sort of short and he intermittently reconnects it by gnawing on it.  The lights are presently all on again, but who knows how long.

The tree with the lightless strip before Jeter "fixed" it.

The tree with the lightless strip before Jeter “fixed” it.

Jeter in his spot under the tree.

Jeter in his spot under the tree.

On a related note, we do try really hard to discourage him from chewing the electrical wires.  We know its bad.  We even gave him an object lesson with the cat from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but he persists in causing all sorts of tree related troubles.

Image from thethoughtexperiment.wordpress.com.

Tonight, we went out and looked at lights.  In the rain.  Because nothing says Christmas like pouring rain.  Patrick downloaded 100 Christmas classics and we listened to some festive music and admired lights, much like I have done since I was a kid.

Tomorrow, despite the call, we are hoping to go to church (yay!) and I am cooking french onion soup for supper because it seemed like a good idea.  We always read the Christmas story to each other at bed time, so hopefully I’ll be home for that.

And for Christmas day, our master plan is to sleep in (or read in bed), relax, have pancakes and bacon for brunch and open the presents we have here.  I am being adventurous since this is the one year we probably get to be adventurous and making lamb for Christmas dinner (and all the hipsters should be proud because we bought it at a local butcher and it is local baby sheep).  Besides that, we will pack and watch movies and play board games and read books and all that good stuff.

It isn’t our usual multi-family epic tour full of turkey, but we are excited for celebrating a bit differently.  Patrick calls it the blip year (or something like that) because it is more of an anomaly because there wasn’t a year quite like it before and there probably won’t be again.

So, Merry Christmas from the M household.  Hope you have fun with your traditions or anti-traditions.

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Being a festive resident

‘Tis the season.

Both to be jolly and for Medical Mondays.

Bad segway?

Sorry.

But seriously, it is Medical Monday, which means a day for all blogs medical to link up and share the love.  Check out some fantastic blogs from other medically related people.

Why am I opening the post with a festive saying?

Well, today was my do everything Christmas that I can’t normally get done in my real life day.

For those of you who are new here, I am a second year Radiation Oncology resident married with a husband and a cat.  I, contrary to popular belief by some, do have friends both near and far.  I have a church and a small group and volunteer commitments.  I have parents and in-laws and all kinds of extended family.  I have an apartment that needs keeping.  I have a blog that would like to be written in.  I have a research project that needs to be finished.

As you can imagine, I, likely much like you, am very busy.  Very, very busy.

Over the years as a med student and now a resident, I learned that Christmas shopping, decorating and such is very, well, challenging when you work more often than not and try to have a life on the side.

First of all, I must say that residents in my neck of the woods are lucky.

We have six days of vacation either around Christmas or New Years.  It is a beautiful thing when you are from away and have people you want to see.  We were off last year for Christmas and will be again this year.

You would think that everyone fights to get Christmas off, but really, they don’t.  The thing is that the six days after Christmas are busy to work because everyone comes to hospital that was trying to avoid it during the earlier holidays.  Also, most families tend to be busier the week of Christmas.  So, you go home, you run around from place to place to place and then you get back and work like a crazy person.  I ended up defaulting to Christmas this year because I missed an email that said the holidays were first come first served.

That being said, it is wonderful to be home with family for the holidays.  I love it.  We have great families and traditions.

But also, besides the busyness of it all, we have NEVER had a Christmas on our own.  We always lived away and always have gone home for Christmas.  This will be our fifth Christmas  of doing that.

There is a piece of me that just wants to do our own thing.  To have our own traditions.

I mean, we have our own traditions.  It just isn’t the same as those we know who have always had their own space or time.  Odds are our traditions would be altered by beeps of pagers and me needing to go round, but  still, they would be our own traditions.

And we still have other traditions.  I always get to put my giant microbes on our tree (this year our tree is bigger).  Patrick always adds some sort of tacky ornament somewhere that kind of bothers me.  We read the Christmas story to each other before bed on Christmas Eve.

This year, I am sending out Christmas cards for the first time.  We have a tree that is full sized.

It is like we are become a real family while still going home for festivities as usual.

But, as I was saying, I am busy.  This month, I need to do a resident presentation, finish the statistical analysis for my research project and submit an abstract for presentation at a conference in the new year.  I work full time.  I cover call.  We are hosting the resident Christmas party (there are 4 of us, it really isn’t that big of a deal).

So, I did what is probably my best decision yet.  I used one of my vacation days to make a long weekend.

Patrick and I went home.  We got to celebrate my grandmother’s 81st Birthday.   I scoped out her new nursing home.  We got to see Patrick’s Mom in a Christmas musical.  We visited people.Mom Daigle Birthday 2013 016 Mom Daigle Birthday 2013 011

Then, we came back and today, I hammered out my Christmas shopping.

Literally, my Christmas shopping.

I am done it.  Patrick just needs to pick up Christmas presents for his Dad, Grandfather and Uncle.  I have everyone else covered.  Everyone else!

Now, I just have to wrap it.  Which I am going to get started on shortly.

The beautiful part is that I did the shopping on a Monday.  During the day.  Thus avoiding the horrors that are weekend and evening stores and still getting some excellent deals that tag on to the weekend sales.

Our Christmas cards are almost all written.  Just need stamps and the addresses for Patrick’s family (hint, hint).

Tonight, we put up our tree.  We inherited a tree from my parents (who inherited it from my Grandmother).  It is big and green.  These are both key features since I have never had a green tree until I was married and we have never had a full sized tree!IMG_1017

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I have gotten nothing useful done for work today.  But, I have accomplished lots of other important things.

Best day off choice ever.

Multitasking and scheduling are huge in surviving the adventure that is life combined with residency.  Days like this give glimmers of normalcy.   Sometimes they just need to be prioritized in.  I think it makes us better people.

Holly Jolly Christmas

We had a delightful Christmas at home.

And now it is time to go back to work tomorrow… By myself… Covering Cardiology… Look out world.

Nothing better than diving in head first.

The whole time was a big reminder of how blessed we are to have wonderful family and friends.

I feel like we need a vacation from the vacation because we spent so much of it with people.   We did manage to fit in pretty much all of our usual holiday traditions in half the time (lights with my parents, brunch with Patrick’s family, Christmas dinners with both families and all of the grandparents, M family potluck, church, Christmas Eve church, festivities with the kids, Christmas party with the friends, girls’ time, latte dates).  In fact, I think we spent as much time with our families as we would any other holiday.  A bit less time with friends, but still some good quality time.  The only thing I missed was the team Nuc Med hangout and cupcakes with my med school friends… But, you can’t do it all every time, I suppose.

Bonus to it all was a sunny drive in both directions (a win this time of year).

And we came home to a house covered in catnip and shredded paper thanks to Jeter’s mad redecorating skills.

Merry belated Christmas and Merry Boxing Day!

Christmas at the Market

Today, I went to the City Market with the Child for vanilla snowflake lattes and a stroll. I felt like a tourist because it has been ages since I have been there.

The Market is a classic city locale. The roof is the hull of a boat and they go all out festive. Today, there was even a man dressed in period clothing wearing Dickens.

It feels like Christmas!

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Merry Christmas Vacation

Christmas vacation is officially here!

It even started a bit early for me.

You see, yesterday was academic half day (aka physics time).  It was also my second (but, when you factor in that the first day doesn’t start until 2pm, it was really more my first) day of cardiology.  So, of course I was running late trying to tie up loose ends and failing at not looking like a total idiot.

By the time I had signed over to the on call person on my team, it was time for physics.  Problem: I was at another hospital.  Solution: I ran.

Okay, reality check… I actually ran for all of 30 seconds, maybe a minute, then remembered I am still a bit weak from the whole gastro thing, rather out of shape secondary to this whole residency taking away my gym time and it is winter and my asthma was not having it (not to mention I can’t run on the best of days).  I then powerwalked the rest of the way to the hospital.  Only to get a text from my junior physics counterpart (because, of course there are only two of us in the class) that there was no class today.

So, there I was sweaty, hungry and a touch woozy at the physics department.  I ate lunch and then came to an amazing epiphany… I was in protected time until 5.  That meant that I was actually off kind of early for my 6 days of glorious vacation.

I mentally frolicked home… In my head, I kind of looked like this (but vacation was the only source of my bliss… Not Viagra).

I cleaned the house (Jeter supervised).  I cooked for the potluck we were going to that night (Jeter also supervised).  I packed for home (he supervised that too).

So now, as we hide our tree from the cat so as to avoid him causing further destruction while we are away (on an aside, we had a mini fake bet last night that he would take the tree out last night despite us having gifts around it… Well, I thought he would, Patrick was more trusting.  The tree was still standing.  Shocking.  It, however was missing bits this morning), I continue to rejoice.  There is just something delightful about going home for the holidays.  And about having holidays.   Oh, and the fact that my parents have a fabulous white tree.IMG_0009

Even if I do need to start reading about cardiology, so as to avoid looking like an idiot when I get back (especially because I will be the ONLY housestaff on for a week), this shall be a Merry Christmas and a Merry Vacation!

Minionship… How we are learning to be a family with a cat.

Patrick and I have been minions to our cat Jeter now for a month and a half.

Some people might call us cat parents, but honestly when people call themselves “Mommy” or “Daddy” to their cat, it freaks me out.  We made a deal not to say that.  We think our cat is smarter than that too.  He likely sees us as glorified servants… Or his minions.

Having a cat in some ways is a flash forward to parenthood.  Not in entirety.  Cats are easier than kids.  But, sometimes, especially where Jeter is only around 1, which makes him like a cat teenager, it feels like we are parents to a difficult child.

As I said previously, Jeter is my first ever real pet, minus some fish in elementary school and some freakishly well cared for earthworms.  Patrick has had a number of pets, including several cats and a bird.

So, when we got Jeter, I read a bunch around having cats.  I set up his food and his litter box in different areas.  I made him a box-bed, even though odds are he wouldn’t use it because that is what one website suggested.

Turns out he adjusted more quickly than most cats.  He was at home with us in a day.

He is ridiculously friendly.  He greets us at the door.  He greets strangers at the door.

He isn’t quite a lap cat.  He doesn’t just climb up to cuddle.  He will sit half on you or near enough to be touching.  He loves being patted (just not for too long).  In fact, we suspect, based on his ability to fetch and how he likes his affection/attention, he may think he is a dog.  He even drinks out of the toilet!

Patrick and Jeter having a rare full on cuddly moment.

Patrick and Jeter having a rare full on cuddly moment.

He is quiet.  Even when he is being loud.  But he has the pathetic noise mastered.   And he talks all the time.  Just not loudly.  We have yet to hear him growl or hiss.  We debate whether he just doesn’t know how or if he is never being devious.

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One day, I was chilling out, watching TV and this is how he fell asleep beside me.

He sprawls more than curls.  In fact, he can be found in some rather precarious positions.

In fact, he often appears to be dead.

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We find the cat like this or sprawled on his side. And often discuss how he looks dead. He just stares at us through squinty eyes and goes back to sleep.

Jeter, like a child, has endless energy (at least during those few hours he is awake).  His exploration skills are top notch.  On his first day with us, he  disappeared and was found in our stackable dryer.  A few weeks ago, Patrick couldn’t find him and found him in a closed kitchen cupboard.

The best part  of this incident is that all we heard was a thunk and then a crash and meowing.  The door had closed behind him.

The best part of this incident is that all we heard was a thunk and then a crash and meowing. The door had closed behind him.

The problem is, sometimes we just don’t know what to do with his energy.  He uses a great deal of it to climb up on counters and tables and all kinds of places we don’t want him to be.  He has gnawed a chunk out of a corner of poorly laid carpet.  And he thinks we are his cat buddies and intermittently tries to chew on our legs.

Thankfully, he never uses claws, and doesn’t bite hard enough to break skin.  Also, his scratching habit is limited to our fake leather ottoman, the carpet outside our bedroom (because he wants to get in) and at times the couch (the biggest issue of all).  It appears he generally only does any of this when we are home.  Otherwise, things would be more mangled.

He likes to climb into our clothing drawers or cupboards.  And lets us close him in them from time to time.  Not the brightest.

He likes to climb into our clothing drawers or cupboards. And lets us close him in them from time to time. Not the brightest.

Navigating the world of cat behavior has been rough.  Like any new parent (minion), we read all sorts of things on the internet.  We yell “Ow” when he chews on us.  We push towards him when he chews on us.  We ignore him when he chews on us.  We chuck him off of surfaces.  We redirect him with toys.  We pat and praise the pulp out of him for good behavior.

When none of this worked, we invested in dollar store spray bottles.  Whoo negative conditioning. It worked on other creatures.  He isn’t a big fan.  He now knows when he is doing things wrong, but still waits for us to move towards the bottle to stop.  And he doesn’t actually hate getting wet.  He twitches at the bottle.  But he only actually moves if you get him near the head/neck.  Lower limbs/body mean nothing.

Then, it was on to positive reinforcement.   Cat treats for using his scratching post.  Cat treats for not jumping on the counter when we yell at him from the living room.  Cat treats for not chewing on us when he sits with us on the couch.  Then he realized I keep them in my pockets.  And he tried chewing on my pocket… Clever.

We read somewhere to get the pet a toy their size to fight with.  We had this lying around the house.  This is one of the only times he attacked it.

We read somewhere to get the pet a toy their size to fight with. We had this lying around the house. This is one of the only times he attacked it.

Finally, it was becoming even more child like.  We started doing time-outs.  He gets sent to a room alone for repeated bad behavior.  Only for 5 minutes or so.  But, he hates being in another room, so it probably works the best.

Really, when it all comes down to it, our cat is kind of like a teenager.  He sleeps most of the time, but then goes out of his way to make us a bit crazy.  He makes eye contact before doing something bad and seems to get a kick out of our reaction.  But, in the end, he still needs us (and I think he likes us).

And his behavior, for the most part, has improved exponentially.  He doesn’t jump up on surfaces nearly as much.  And he has stopped randomly chewing on us, most of the time.  Except when we fight over the Christmas tree or him wanting to sleep with us at night.  And he really doesn’t eat guests.

What? I am totally not trying to eat the tree.

What? I am totally not trying to eat the tree.

As I say this, he is tearing around the house like a banshee!

Despite attempting to buy him cat toys, his favorite item is still yarn I gave him on his first day.  And it still makes Patrick a little paranoid because he had a cat die from choking on yarn.  The thing is, it is a big wad that is all knotted.  And Jeter isn’t exactly one to eat stupid things.

This yarn, however is our tool to get him out of places he shouldn’t be and redirect him from attacking other things around the house… Like our Christmas tree.

I knit a lot, though.  This makes him a bit crazy.  But, it also encourages him to cuddle with us.

He is afraid of the vacuum cleaner, fascinated with the potential world outside our apartment and rather obsessed with the printer.  One of his first time outs, he jumped up on the printer, slid over the other side and got stuck behind the shelf the printer sits on.  Another time, we heard the printer going and found him sitting on it… Making 99 copies of nothing.  And watching the paper come out.  He comes flying when he hears the printer start.  Probably because he loves paper about as much as his string.

Printing 99 copies of blank paper for his attacking pleasure.

Printing 99 copies of blank paper for his attacking pleasure.

Yes, paper.  We became concerned about his whole paper fascination and looked it up online (again, like crazy parents).  It is normal cat behavior to like mangling paper or plastic.  They usually do it when they are bored.  Jeter is either bored a lot  or just really likes paper.  He shreds any paper (he prefers that it not be the glossy thick stuff) into tiny bits.  These tiny bits inhabit every corner of my house, which drives me completely crazy!  He tries to steal our mail.  When I was working on my presentation this week, he would sneak up on me and my heaps to try to steal a page of journal article.  On the plus side, he is encouraging us to make sure all of our important documents are in a safe place.  He did, however eat half of a movie coupon Patrick had.  Thankfully, the bar code is still intact.  Should be interesting to redeem nonetheless.

In cat parenting, we have learned valuable communication lessons..  There were a few days where Patrick thought I was feeding Jeter in the morning when I got up to go to work.  I thought he was feeding him after he took me to work.  Patrick couldn’t figure out why the cat was going crazy and trying to eat everything.  Turns out, he was just starving.

Although we know almost nothing about his past, we have learned he knows to come running for the sound of his food or treat bags.

We treated him to his first cat nip the other night.  This was more of a bizarre social experiment, as we didn’t know how he would react, but hoped that it might have some sort of calming effect.  It did, in a way.  It kept him contained to licking, attacking and rolling around one area like a fool.  Mission accomplished!

Rolling in the catnip on the scratching apparatus.

Rolling in the catnip on the scratching apparatus.

Problem was, the cat nip smell coming from the drawer he already knows contains his treats led him to go on a mission to learn to open said drawer.  We aren’t sure if we didn’t close it all the way or what happened exactly, but somehow, the cat got in, chewed a bunch of holes in the cat nip bag and sprinkled it all over the living room carpet.  And then removed not one, but both bags of cat treats (one full, one half empty) and chewed holes in those and ate what I considered to be the equivalent of his body weight in treats.  Thankfully, he has enough common sense not to eat until he pukes.  Needless to say, he didn’t eat much of anything else that day.

Our crowning minionship moment came last week when Jeter started coughing.  In my opinion, it was a croupy sounding cough.  He coughed and coughed and looked miserable.  Patrick Googled “how to treat a choking cat.”  We cornered him and I got nominated to have a look in his throat (because 4 years of med school gives me so much useful knowledge in this area).  Apparently the movement of being snatched combined with the forceful coughing helped him to get out whatever he had because after a few pitiful yowls, he seemed fine.  We played a bit and went to bed.  And Jeter came with us.  Because Patrick didn’t want him to be alone in case something happened.  The only thing that happened was that Jeter hogged my side of the bed, then in the middle of the night decided to chew on Patrick’s toes.  He was then relinquished back to his hallway and out of our room.

It seems that our minionship has helped us to adjust to the ups and downs of parenting.  There are days where I am convinced he hates me and days he is just plain spiteful and others he can be quite lovely.  I play more now than I did before.  And we get a number of good laughs.

I actually like having him around more than I thought I would.  Funny how life works sometimes.

O Christmas Tree

Last night, we went to a “Christmas Party” for our small group.  We do it every year.  Potluck, gift exchange and games.  This year, we added in tree decorating.

The potluck aspect is always awesome.  We like the element of adventure and the food.  We never tell each other what we will bring.  Its half the fun.  Sometimes we have three desserts, other times three varieties of pasta.  It makes life and dining interesting.  I made curry noodles, someone else lasagna, then there was a Caesar salad, apple pie and candy cane whoopee pies.  Om nom nom.

Gift exchanges are also of sheer awesomeness.  We each buy something under $10 and wrap it.  Patrick and I were a little pressed for wrapping surprises, so I took out my sharpies and “decorated” a David’s Tea bag and a Chapters bag.  Fooled everyone into thinking the bags actually contained something from those stores.  Anyway, we draw names and each person whose name is drawn can either pick a gift or steal an already opened one.  This year minimal brawls broke out.  I got a milk frothing/hot chocolate kit.  Very excited to try it out.  Of note, Patrick got a mini basketball net and a ball.  I am curious to see where that is going to appear within the house.

This year, A&P decided we would help decorate their tree.  The theory behind things was that they felt we couldn’t have a Christmas gift exchange sans tree.  The cause for decorating arose from the fact that A is a teacher and it is parent-teacher/report card week and she becomes excessively distressed (fairly not healthy, I am certain).

First task- put the lights on.  Simple enough?  No.  A has a certain format for putting the lights on “so they look like they are in the tree, not just on it.”  Her husband is no longer allowed to help.  She had a series of chairs around the tree, so she could reach the top and slowly, ever so slowly circled the tree to put the lights “just so.”  It took an hour and three people.  Meanwhile, the rest of us changed the decoration hangers from one set of festive balls to another because they are trying for a new theme.  You see, P feels that trees need to have a theme.  And this has been an area of struggle for A&P to settle on a theme.  So, we had some charming santas with instruments ornaments on which the tags were still attached and I was not permitted to remove them, as they may decide they don’t fit the theme and will need to be returned.  The new balls come from the notion that having just gold or too much gold wouldn’t be good, so a balance of red, green and gold would be better.  The tree theme is red, green and gold with santas and sleighs.  With an angel on top.  By the time the lights were on, we all put up decorations and tried to hide tags.  There were no ornaments on the back, and they were appropriately spaced.  It was pretty.  The tree was against the window, so the lights look nice outside and we could enjoy the ornaments inside.  The tree skirt was white, so the cat hair wouldn’t be noticeable, though apparently one time the cat threw up on it and that was noticeable until cleaned up.

During the decorating process we talked about some of our own family Christmas traditions and tree preferences.  Most of us are not pro-theme like P is.  Some like a more broad based theme.  Some of us had real trees, others fake ones. Most of us had electric lights, but our Eastern European friend had real candles and actually celebrated Christmas around New Years.  Traditions are like trees, unique and with personality.

The tree at my parents' house.

My family growing up had a while Christmas tree.  I actually thought this was perfectly normal until I went to school and realized nobody had white trees.  They have actually come in style over the last few years, so my mom finally got to get a “new” white tree.  The tree always had red lights and red beads and an angel with a reddish dress on top.  But that is where the theme ended.  Our ornaments were an interesting assortment.  My mom really liked acorns and birds on her tree.  Some of her birds were almost as old as her and passed down from her mom, as were a few glass bulbs we had (that are still becoming fewer and fewer each year).  A few birds had only one eye, or a bald patch where the feathers fell off.  We still put them up.  We have as assortment of decorations we thought cute over the year.  Post-office memerobilia, Christmas gifts and ALL of the ornaments I made as a child in school.  When I got into music in Middle School, we began acquiring instrument ornaments.  I also loved cows, so we have a few cow ornaments.  My family’s tree was notably red, but with a rainbow and assortment of ornaments.  That is what I see as my perfect tree.

Patrick’s family is a real tree family.  They also have a fairly epic variety of ornaments.  His mom is trying to make it more themed.  It is nice and less varied, but still lovely and traditional looking.  Speaking of traditional, he used to use tinsel though that has since ceased.    I am grateful… Tinsel is by far my least favorite thing on earth.  My grandmother always had tinsel.  A lot of it.  Its messy.  When I was a small child, I was laying under her tree and inhaled tinsel and choked.  She got mad.  I was unimpressed.  Thus, I still hate tinsel.

My friend V has the most festive family I know.  They have multiple trees.  The record was about 4 and its not like their house is huge.  They have one tree that has all of the tacky (or at least the majority).  The highlight of this includes mismatched lights consisting of flashing icicles and Sesame Street lights along the bottom!  Their ornaments include childhood concoctions, some vaguely inappropriate items (favorite of which has mistletoe and when you push a button a flag that says kiss me pops up) and then there is the best ornament of all… We have a Christmas dinner party at their place every year and they thought it would be fun to put our friend L on the tree.  They printed a terrible picture of her and put it in a place of honor on the tree.  She took awhile to notice and got mad.  It reappeared the next year, and the next year…. It wouldn’t be Christmas without L on the tree!  Their other trees are fairly standard with multicolored lights and some with mini decorations.

Delightfuly tacky ornaments.

Its just not Christmas without this face on the tree!

My grandparents have a small white ceramic tree with blue bird lights (it is actually intended to be a winter decoration).  They stopped having a normal tree because my grandmother would get annoyed by it.  However, she has since forgotten it bothers her, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they had a little green one this year.  My parents love the ceramic tree.  They want it once the grandparents die.

Tree theming at its finest... Finding Nemo.

Others I know have perfectly themed trees.  Patrick’s aunt has a tree that is angel themed.  Literally, the entire tree is covered in large angel dolls.  It is almost eerie, yet beautiful.  I have a friend here who has a tree decorated entirely in purple – lights, balls, ribbon.  At home, there is a festival of trees to raise money for charities and many of the trees decorated and auctioned are themed in things you wouldn’t think of – pop cans, bicycles, houses, bones… you name it, someone has probably themed it.

We just decorated our tree today (early to me, but I leave next week to go on a rotation at our other home).  It is only a tiny little Charlie Brown tree.  Patrick bought it last year.  It has a mix of Sesame Street ornaments he bought last year, giant microbes (a Christmas gift from the lovely M&H, but school friends) and some bulbs Patrick got from the gift exchange.  We don’t have a star or angel, but E. coli is on top of our tree.  It is festively tacky… Just the way we like it!

Our tree this Christmas

Microbes and Sesame Street. How festive!

E. coli atop the tree.

In the future, I don’t really know what kind of tree we will have.  Wherever we go next, we want a bigger one.  I want a white one.  Because despite me now knowing social norms, white trees are more like Christmas.  Patrick wants a real one because real ones are more like Christmas to him.  We joke we will have both.  His possibly with some tinsel.  Mine with some microbes.  It should prove to be interesting.