Sunday, December 02, 2007

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

Last Saturday we devoted the day to cutting down a Christmas tree up in the mountains above Cedar City. We cut our own tree last year in a place nearer here and had to settle for a rather unusual species of tree with yellow-gray-green needles - more a big bush than a tree really. So this year we decided to do a little more research on where the good trees might be and found ourselves driving through gorgeous fresh-fallen snow in a winter wonderland. Wow, it was pretty. But then there was a big snowstorm moving in and we drove through a series of white outs and the road got closed in front of us. We decided to just find a tree on our way out of the forest. But it's really hard to find a decent tree in a snowstorm when every tree is layered in tons of snow you really can't tell what it looks like.

Jared ended up trekking through waist-deep snow in his old holey jeans and sweatshirt in search of a decent tree while the rest of us sat in the car and the kids complained that we wouldn't let them out of the car because we didn't bring snow clothes for them. That huge amount of powderly snow did look like a lot of fun but it didn't feel so good inside your shoes and pants. It was a nice 50 degrees or so when we left St George and we were worried that the recent rain would make it a bit muddy up in the mountains - 4 feet of snow just didn't enter our minds as a possiblity. Jared finally found a tree and dragged this huge tall tree through the snow for a long ways, over a creek, up a steep hill, you name it. I tried to help with the end part while the kids went wild in the car. That tree was outrageously heavy being pulled through the snow! I have no idea how Jared got it all that way by himself.

Jared tied it on the car and we made it back home by nightfall, got the tree cut down to a size that would fit in our house, and got it put up in the living room - only to find that what looked like a pretty good tree out there on the mountain looks like a pretty scraggly tall skinny tree once the bushy bottom part had to be cut off to fit in into our house. But I'm sure it will look fine once we get it decorated and it's skinniness means it takes up a very modest amount of room! Maybe NEXT year will be the year we find and cut down a really great Christmas tree!
We've been working hard on planning our big Children for Children concert for the 11th - the kids and their friends are performing and displaying their artwork and each participant is inviting several people to come watch and make a donation to help One Heart Bulgaria. The BBC did a documentary on the deplorable state of so many Bulgarian orphanages and there are new statistics saying Bulgaria has more than 2% of all its children in institutions. So I'm extra glad we're doing this. I'm so excited Saydi's doing it also and we should be able to make a nice donation to One Heart. I just watched the BBC documentary and it was hard to watch - kids rocking themselves in beat-up old cribs, kids with basic disabilities that would have been fixed at birth in this country, kids who are severely malnourished, kids who run to hug and hang onto a stranger, yearning for any affection, kids who shy away from any affection, scared of something they've never really had... It looks like One Heart has found a good training organization that has the funding and know-how necessary to help set up the sort of program I wish I could do myself. I'll probably go over there in the next year to help set this up.

Anyway, Thanksgiving was great. It was nice to be able to help mom and dad with the house in person rather than over the phone for a bit and great to see how much it's come together. Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and beautiful and it was fun to catch up with the Carvers and have some good time with Mom and Dad and Char and Eli.

When Mom and Dad and Char and Eli took off for Phoenix, we spent a great day downtown at the Children's Museum, visiting Temple Square's exhibits, seeing them turn the lights on there for the first time, and eating dinner at a great little Mexican restaurant where the twins delightedly danced in their chairs to nice live music. They were really excited when the musicians came and serenaded us at our table. We're feeling like we've turned a corner with this unwieldly family of ours - it was actually fun to go out to eat as a family. Saturday we went to Bee Movie (which we thought was pretty dumb but the kids enjoyed it) with Barb and Joel and family and did a little shopping at Ikea. Then we headed home.

It was so great to have a lot of time together as a family and really get into the holiday spirit. It was so fun walking all over downtown SLC in the crisp winter air, the kids belting out Jingle Bells and so fun seeing them explore and enjoy at the Children's Museum. It was fun being in the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers and great to see the kids dancing around in the lights by the big Christmas tree at Gateway. All the kids are big enough to "get" Christmas this year so it should really be fun.

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