Thursday, December 05, 2002

My Christmas decor, thanks to the recent fung shui project that allowed more space at Maison du Jennique, has been separated into three sections this year, instead of two. This year, I have a fabulous four foot faux Alaskian pine tree that I bought at KMart during the initial flakes last night after my other tree went M.I.A. I've been able to put it in it's own space, right next to my reclining chair, where I can look at it. My philosophy of Christmas tree trimming is that it is an intimate and personal experience, and that ornaments should be chosen to reflect the lives of the people who live in the house. So each year I choose ornaments that reflect my life and personality. Natually, there are a lot of nursing, knitting, figure skating and Pooh bear ornaments. This year, Chessie has made her appearance on the tree in the form of a picture frame ornament. For the past couple of years she has been represented on the tree as a Hallmark ornament featuring a cat playing with an unenthusiastic hamster in one of those plastic balls. When we got it, John and I remarked that it looked like Chessie when she played with Harvey Wallbanger, a mechanical hamster with a plastic ball that we humans thought was funny, but was unpopular with the Chess, and pretty soon became part of a growing pile of toys in Chessie's kitty carrier. On his tree, John has a railroad car from the Ohio Railroad that is labled "The Chessie System." The Ohio Railroad's mascot was a sleeping kitten, who according to folklore, was found snoozing in a sleeper car by a big burly conducter, who immediately christened her Chessie. There are signs featuring the feline that read: "Chessie says you'll sleep like a kitten aboard the Ohio Railroad!" John says that right before he got her, he took a trip to Harper's Ferry when he was thinking about taking home a cat he'd seen at a local shelter, and when he saw the sign at the train station, he knew in his heart that the cat he saw named Chessie was the one for him.

The second part is my pretty little Christmas City, which is an offshoot of The Snow Village, those ceramic houses you see at Hechts this time of year. I haven't expanded my collection in almost two years, but it still looks pretty. I have Mrs. Stover's Candy Store, Jennie's Book Shop, the hospital, the beauty salon, the bridal shop, Molly O'Brien's Irish Pub (complete with the sign Erin Go Braugh!), and the center of the city, the Cathedral complete with mini-Nativity scene. With the exception of the hospital, it's a bit of a Girly Town, but hopefully I'll expand my collection when I start acquiring a paycheck. It's sitting on my fold-out table which sits next to the window, so people can see it from the outside. In theory, of course. Because my window faces my parent's backyard, it gives my German Shepherds an eyefull, but not many else. Still, I do like to think the dogs enjoy it. They are represented on the tree with Chess.

Finally, I've put my Advent wreath and my Nativity scene on a trunk that sits across from my bed. The Nativity scene is made of wood, and it was a Chirstmas present from my Nanny and Papa last year, making it all the more special. John got me the Advent wreath on our first Christmas together, so both pieces are sentimental. This morning, I couldn't take my eyes off the lit candle next to the Nativity scene. It was such a simple yet perfect moment.

For those of you unfamiliar, the Advent wreath consists of a circular wreath with four candles in it- three purple, one pink, each representing the four weeks of Advent, which is used to prepare for the birth of Baby Jesus. As the weeks progress, more candles are lit. The pink candle is lit on the third week. I prefer evening Mass during Advent, because Father John put St. Mike's Advent wreath near the window this year, and it's really pretty at night to see the candles lit.

Although it's been uttered in many a corny Christmas show, but I must say that this time of year I feel is almost magical. Being out of work this year for the Holidays has really taught me a humbling lesson. I feel I want to become more sensitive to the plight of those less fortunate than me. I was reading an article about a homeless woman who could give her daughter one gift for her birthday...a Slurpee from a local convienence store. A story like that I probably would have read and not felt anything before, but having read it only a few days ago, it truly broke my heart. I realize that there but for the grace of God go I. I am lucky in that my family supported me through this. There are people with no support. This time in the year, when candles are in the window, you can hear the whooshing of the snow, and Christians gather to celebrate the birth of the Man who would later subject himself to the torture of having nails put in his wrists (yes, Bert, I did read your blog :) ) and feet on a piece of wood so that people could have a better life, just seems like the perfect time do help support those who need it. It's a lesson that I needed to be reminded of, and I think it just might go down as the best Christmas present I've ever received. (Don't worry Granddaddy, the pink Huffy Big Girl bike you gave me at age 6 runs a close second!)

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