We always buy a straggly, thin, uneven, and very tall Christmas tree. For the 17 years we've been in this house, it's always been in the same corner and usually has to be cut down just a little so the star can fit. This year, our tree did something it's never done before. It bloomed. A couple days before Christmas, we noticed little red berries all over the branches.
They're everywhere. And, usually our tree is extremely brittle by this time. It still feels as fresh as can be.
Millie and I were driving home from music lessons a different way. We came upon this tiny little house in Orem with not-so-tiny amounts of bright, turning, spinning, waving, flashing Christmas. I'll admit that while I think this amount of decorating is tacky, I am also drawn to it. I always stop and look. Where do people store all this stuff? Must they rent a storage unit?
One of our favorite stories... When Xander was little, he couldn't say his "L" sound. We would always drive around to find Christmas lights. Brent pronounced the word "lights" the way Xander would say it, "Xander, look at those yights." And Xander said, "Dad, it's not yights, it's YIGHTS!
Several years ago, we just happened to be roaming the Springville Art Museum on a Sunday afternoon and we saw that a handbell choir was going to perform. It was one of those magical moments. It was beautiful and so unexpected. For a year or two, I had a hard time catching their performances. Last year, we were able to catch them at the Provo Library. And this year, we saw them once again at the Springville Art Museum on a Sunday afternoon.
The conductor is a hoot, making the concert informal and interactive. We sang a few carols along with the handbells. She lets folks in the audience ask questions between songs. They do all sorts of things with the bells besides just ringing them. They tap them with a mallet and treat them like xylophones. They tap them on the padded table like percussions. They tap them against their bodies to stop the sound. They also use tuning forks for different sounds.
For the past 4 or 5 years, my sister, her grown daughter, my mom, and myself have spent a long weekend making chocolates at Mom's house in Portland, Oregon. My mom has been at this craft for over 25 years now. This year we counted them. Nearly 2000 pieces of candy.
Caramel macadamia nut clusters with white chocolate and toasted coconut
Chocolate fudge centers
Strawberry centers and peanut butter centers in background
Large dining room table and 3 card tables
Mom in a sea of boxes
Melanie, Mom, Me, Chelsea
This year we didn't have Dad around to fix us meals, buy groceries, run errands, tell jokes, and give impromptu ballroom dance lessons in the kitchen. We miss you, Dad!