Aleks is so into this now, I don't even recall what I've read because I'm always asleep when he opens them. Again, no marshmallows. But, the envelope had lovely brussel sprouts on it. Aleks rips the envelopes open each morning. There's no carefully peeling back my handmade numbered label.
Aleks wish did come true though. Finally we get to decorate the tree.
We just have to acquire a tree first. The last two years, we used Laura's extra fake tree. After learning that the fake trees have lead in them, I decided to go back to real trees. I have always felt weird about cutting down trees, especially since my family buys a tree that they plant every year. They have nearly five acres though and far more disposable income than I.
Aleks and I traveled to a local nursery first, wanting to support the local business and find something suitable. Unfortunately, Aleks had designs on a big cut tree, which wouldn't fit in our apartment without losing serious space for sitting and being, not to mention that the stands they had for sale there were 80 dollars - way outside my price range. We looked at the Norfolk pines and some small potted, more traditional pines, but the larger ones were too expensive and none would hold the ornaments I'd purchased at the thrift store the day before (we only really had a few silver glass bulbs).
I decided to leave after much deliberation and Aleks' wandering eye and attention. He liked the very expensive ornaments they had for sale and trying to find the cats that live there. While getting in the car, I thought I might find a cheaper tree stand at the nearby Home Depot (a store I loathe for their support of the GOP and their corporate gigantitude, but which is nonetheless extremely convenient). Lo and behold, not only did they have tree stands for $11.99, but they also had some 3-4 foot fraser firs, which are the perfect size for our shrinking space.
When the line for the cashier was long due to waiting on a price check from lumber, the clerk decided to stop the transaction in front of me to continue waiting and check us out instead. Then we discovered that our tiny tree didn't have a tag, so she just rung the stand up twice rather than lengthen the line further with more waiting and I got both the tree and stand for $25! So I must forgive myself for both the cutting of a tree (which I comfort myself by rationalizing it as a sustaining industry) and the purchase of said tree from the terrible corporate giant, all for our merriment. Typing it out like that is in fact no comfort, however.
We got the tree home and set to work stringing our ancient hand-me-down lights upon its dying limbs and opening up the bags of wooden ornaments I found at the thrift store. We discovered that all the adorable little angels and drums and nutcrackers had Made in China or Made in Taiwan stickers on their undersides which had to be removed lest we look extraordinarily tacky in our decorating. We also discovered to our delight, their near perfect condition and unimaginable cuteness and happily attached them to each little limb. Then I tried to get pictures of the kids for the blog. Then I thought perhaps I'd get a nice Christmas photo for the December page of the calendar we give to my fathers each year. That was a wistful dream. Here are the results: