How many adjectives can I use to describe the holidays?…Amazing. Stressful. Loving. Overwhelming. Exciting. Busy. Full of fun. Full of drama. The best time of year.
Last year Nate was deployed September through February, so it was just me and Mav and Summerly making plans to hang with friends and family for the holidays. What used to be simple and enjoyable activities like taking the kids to the pumpkin patch, was now a totally overwhelming and exhausting adventure. Summerly was only three months old, (enough said,) and Maverick had completely lost his mind in his attempts to understand why his Daddy left forever. You see, kids that young don’t have a sense of time or object permanence. So trying to explain when daddy will be home is not really something they can comprehend. All he knows is daddy is not here right now, and that was breaking his little heart all the time. So it was understandable that he was acting out and taking “Terrible twos,” to a whole new level.
By Christmas Summerly was six months old, and Mav was two and a half. I had turned into the Grinch trying not to be too sad missing Nate, but refusing to put myself through what seemed to be the insurmountable task of unpacking and putting up the Christmas decorations. Forget about trying to get a tree into the house. My super awesome neighbors offered to put up some lights on the house, but I politely declined admitting that it was easier for me physically and emotionally to just embrace my Grinchiness and my husband’s absence.
Having explained that, it’s understandable that I went all out this year. We put up every decoration that I could find. I learned about Elf on the Shelf for the first time and embraced that with way more enthusiasm than any adult should. And I proceeded to buy more decorations until Nate finally drew the line when I attempted to purchase a $200 advent calendar from Pottery Barn. Of course it was overpriced, but I had to have it! So when he refused to let me buy it, I coerced him into making it for me. That’ll teach him to say, “No.” Hah! Here’s a pic of the Pottery Barn advent calendar.
We bought the wood and hooks at Home Depot. I measured, he cut, I stained, he screwed it all together, and then screwed in the 25 hooks with my direction. I sewed the 25 stockings with red fabric that I already had, and then embellished with the twine loops and white trim and burlap numbers, which I am still in the process of glueing on. I then topped it off with a copper star and some lights from Target, and whala! For just $40!
Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have which really doesn’t do it justice, but I’m still super proud of it.
The trip to the Christmas tree lot had me giddy. The joy of watching Nate unwrap countless trees until we find the perfect one is exhilarating. Another couple walks up to look at some trees near us while Nate is bitching and refusing to untie yet another tree that I had just pointed to. The wife leans closer to me and sarcastically exclaims, “They’re all the same, aren’t they?!” Nate overhears and frustratingly responds, “Exactly!” And she and I just start cracking up because we both know that the comment was describing our resistant and complaining husbands, not the trees. Nate and I finally agreed on a tree that was a little smaller than some others I had my eye on, but I conceded to his pleads for a tree that was under six feet tall. He also had to convince me that we didn’t need 45 feet of live garland, which took some finesse on his part because I was pretty adamant. In retrospect, yeah, I was definitely going overboard.
The next day we headed to Target for some more lights and extra ornament hooks for the tree. On our way there we were forced to take a detour because there was a police motorcade coming through. It was the longest motorcade I had ever seen in my life, and I was convinced that it was for sure the President…or maybe Oprah! Lmao. There were about five Sheriff’s busses leading the charge, and an endless stream of Explorer SUVs blaring their lights and sirens, literally as far as my eyes could see. I was like a puppy sticking my head out the window trying to count the cars as we were directed in the opposite direction to take the back way to Target. As we approached the light to pull into the parking lot, the sirens started sounding louder and seemed to be getting closer, although we had just driven away from them. All of a sudden there were those Sheriff’s busses right in front of us! They had driven around the block, and were now pulling into the Target parking lot from the other side of the intersection. Nate grumbled under his breath, “What the hell is going on??”
Right then I am reminded of a conversation I had had with my neighbors last year after I had unknowingly gone to Target at the tail end of this event, and wondered why there were so many cop cars around. They explained to me that every year at Christmas, San Diego Sheriff’s Department hosts an event called Shop with a Cop. The event starts with numerous volunteer uniformed officers from a variety of agencies who show up at SeaWorld to have breakfast with 300+ underprivileged kids in San Diego, and then escort them in their various police vehicles to Target where they each get to spend a $100 gift card for Christmas. This all comes from grants and donations.
I start explaining this to Nate as we are ushered to park in front of the Ralph’s parking lot, since the Target lot is cordoned off for the officers. There are hundreds of varying police vehicles including the Sheriff’s busses, swat vans, motorcycles, cops on horses, and don’t forget the helicopter circling above us. There are kids on the vehicle intercoms of the police cars singing Jingle Bells, and shouting Merry Christmas! As if it couldn’t get any more festive, then comes Santa and Mrs. Claus in an old fashioned, antique looking police car. As I am taking this all in with wide-eyed wonder, Nate has been huffing and puffing and says, “You’ve gotta be sh*tting me.” He tells me we are going home, and I nearly rip his head off vehemently arguing that we are absolutely not missing this. So he begrudgingly loads the kids into a cart, and we make our way into the store. Nate is still bitching and grumbling about the crowd and how we’re, “Never gonna get out of here,” when he stops cold because he notices that I’m crying. He asks me what’s wrong, and I respond, “It’s just so magical.”
It really was a beautiful event to witness, full of Christmas cheer and the spirit of giving. But also I was clearly a hormonal mess, so happy that my hubby is home this year, and fully enjoying everything Christmas has to offer. So all in all, I had an amazing holiday season, all the crowds and stress and family drama included. Also I am thrilled that my hormones have been driving me around happy land, rather than bitchy, angry town. And I’m just gonna enjoy it while it lasts, lol.
Here are some pix of our holiday festivities. I was too busy crying to take pix of the Shop with a Cop event, and too distracted haggling with Nate to take pix at the Christmas tree lot. But there are some other pictures of things we did. Like wandering around the Irvine Spectrum and riding the carousel.
Visiting the always hilarious Ocean Beach Christmas tree.
Dressing up for Nate’s command Christmas party which was a Great Gatsby theme.
Visiting Santa, of course.
Decorating the Christmas tree.
And finally, opening presents Christmas morning with family.