Winter starts officially sometime tomorrow. The next day is supposed to be bitterly cold (although if we were further north, it would just be a regular winter day) with a high remaining below zero.
Jack Frost’s artistry is growing on the storm windows — visibly expanding — even though the sun is up.
I changed the furnace filter, using the one spare I had, in spite of the fact that the one that was in it really wasn’t horribly bad yet. We did the goofy intake-offset thing that we have to do to make sure the propane backup will fire when the heat pump can’t keep up. The smoke detectors have good batteries and the carbon monoxide detector works and I’m just not sure how much more ready we can be.
Yesterday I spent five hours and about three hundred bucks on getting all the things we will need to survive Christmas break. Snacks, is what I’m saying. Life with kids seems to be mostly about snacks. There were no furnace filters on the shelf for people with normal-dimension-ed needs.
At one of the stores a couple cashiers were commenting — not complaining, which I guess comes as a bit of a surprise to me? — about the remarkable mobs of people early on a Monday. Apparently the Christmas shoppers were augmented by the “oh my gosh it’s gonna be cold” shoppers. The more seasoned clerk said to the other, “Just wait ’til before the first real snow.” And internally, I said to myself: “Uh. I will NOT be shopping that day.”
Shopping with mobs is not for the 90 percent introverted. It just isn’t. It requires wine and “Downton Abbey” at the end of the day.
To the shock of everyone, we already have a Christmas tree! I know, it’s early. The pasture excursion was Saturday because — you guessed it — it wasn’t deadly cold yet.
I like to keep the Christmas tree up until Epiphany. The whole 12 days of Christmas count, at least as far as I’m concerned. “We Three Kings” is my favorite carol. So adding the tree to the house closer to Christmas makes the most sense to me. In a house this size with this many humans, we have to rearrange parts of four rooms to make space for it, and that’s not sustainable for more than a couple or three weeks when — as previously established — it is awfully cold outside.
Plus, living a life as a calendar-challenged person, Christmas sneaks up on me. This is technically not true; there is absolutely no sneaking involved with Christmas retail marketing; but it happens to me every time, so I guess I should just acknowledge it and move right along.
This tree is awfully droughted. It’s already slurped up better than two gallons of water in just a couple days. I’ve got it propped in the tree stand with a couple rocks to make sure it doesn’t fall over like we had happen two or three years ago in the middle of the night. That unpleasant experience is one I would not care to repeat. And man, it smells cedar-y. Some cedars smell like cat pee, but this one smells like cedar. Thank goodness.
A couple years ago, the landowners from whom we rent this pasture invested in clearing the cedars. (They’re invasive, and the more you have, the less grass is available for forage.) As a result, right now when we look around for a Christmas-tree-sized tree, mostly we find trees that are either the very size of the house itself because they were inaccessible on a slope or ravine, or trees that are knee-high. We joked that we should drop GPS pins for Tree 2026 options.
While the girls ornamented the tree, the boy put up the outdoor lights. We haven’t had outdoor lights for the better part of a decade, and I’m truly glad he took care of this. I like it when a project that August requests to do is a project I can whole-heartedly get behind. Parenting is not for the faint at heart, and these minutes when everyone is on the same page are so rewarding.
Two of the three Little People Nativities have lights and sounds but they do not play at the same tone or rate, even with identically new batteries. Christmas comes with a little added cacophony. We also had a snow day last week and many people cut snowflakes. In an added festive touch, they are in the window.
I listened to a scholar talk about the Christmas story this morning. There’s always something to learn, always a chance to read and understand a little more. And almost always a Chipmunks Christmas song that can be played … again.
With not quite a week to go, I think mostly we are ready. Not bad.