Join Me on Vacation

It’s that time of year. No, not the one where we stress ourselves by chasing our tail to parties and shopping for gifts. Vacation time!

This year, my husband and I are heading to the South to visit family…and experience the joys of the holiday season in Branson, Missouri. Maybe while I’m gone, some angels will drop by my house and wrap all the gifts and spruce up the decorations.

I know I’ve been pretty quiet the past month, and it’s probably that December will be another “one post per week” time her at Sharon Lee Hughson, Author’s blog. I’ll try to jump online while I’m away (for ten days) and give you a sample of my trip to “Nashville of the Ozarks.” But I’m not making any promises.

To whet your appetite for the trip, here’s a brief itinerary:

  • Today: Fly to OKC
  • Tomorrow: Spend the day with my Aunt Betty
  • Sunday: Travel to Branson and see THIS
  • Monday: Vacate…yes, that’s the verb for what you do on vacation. I know you think it means something else, but right here and right now, it means I’m vacationing.
  • Tuesday: Watch the Miracle of Christmas
  • Wednesday & Thursday: Cruise the town, see some sights, sample some goodies, more vacating
  • Friday: Check out the Dixie Stampede
  • Saturday: Squeeze in any last minute “must see” action
  • Sunday: Return to OKC and fly home

No, that’s not all we’re going to do. But if you’ve read any of my other posts on vacation (like this one or this one), then you know I’m NOT a fan of booking every day with activities.

In short, that’s a key to stress for me…and I vacate to relax. (Notice what I did there? Using my new definition in a sentence. Oh, yeah. Oxford will be adding that definition to their dictionary soon.)

Christmas is first about Christ and second about the twinkling lights. While we’re in Branson, we also plan to check out the glory of the lights. Lights in the square and in one (two or even all three) of the drive through light shows they have in Nashville of the Ozarks.

Have you been to Branson? What would you suggest is a “must see”?

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Trimming the Tree

Lights on - ready for trimming
Lights on – ready for trimming

Some of you will call me Scrooge. Some of you will second my sentiment. A handful of you might gasp. Others may nod (unless someone is watching). The truth is: I hate putting up a Christmas tree.

I heard the gasps. Really. I prefer it to the tirade I received from my youngest son a few years back when I said I didn’t want to put up a tree. In all fairness, he lectured his dad for wanting to put up an artificial tree, so it’s about more than having a tree to sonny boy.

My son loves the tradition involved. This is what he remembers: the first Saturday in December, we bundled up in warm coats and mud boots and headed to a local Christmas tree farm.

Wandering through the rows, they would point out possibilities. I had the final say. Some people think I’m picky about the tree.

Such a conclusion was probably formed when I frowned at the fat Douglas fir tree my husband brought home one Christmas. I told him – I like Noble fir trees. Was this a Noble? A tree is a tree, he says. He never made that mistake again.

Back to the story at hand: when we found the perfect tree, my husband would saw along the base of the tree. We would cart it up to the cashier (there was no “cart” but my husband is a pro at walking it beside him).

Unlike those people who drive around with a tree strapped to the top of the car, ours goes in the back of the truck. In fact, I feel that one of the reasons my husband keeps our rarely-driven truck is just for hauling a tree. And other hauling emergencies, of course. Like when we cleaned out the garage. Did I mention the truck is seldom put to use?

What was I writing about again? Oh, right, the idea of not having a Christmas tree.

Tree trimming is a family activity
Tree trimming is a family activity

It’s so much work to move the furniture around to make space for the tree. Dragging out all the lights and ornaments is another hassle. What I hate the most? Decorating it. No, un-decorating it (is that a word?) is worse.

Let’s just agree that decorating (or un-decorating) the tree isn’t my favorite thing. The same son who throws a tantrum at the thought of having no tree disappears when time for dressing the tree in all its sparkling finery approaches.

Or he puts a dozen ornaments on the branches in the middle and calls it done.

If I’m going to have a tree, it’s going to be done right. Glaring gaps are strictly forbidden. Two ornaments the same color hanging directly next to each other is a gaffe. All sides must contain equal disbursement of embellishments.

Since I have standards, a few people who live in my home think I should do the decorating myself. I’m happy to remind them that I would gladly choose to have no tree at all. More grumbling and complaining and another flippant attempt to trim the tree.

Last year, I just let it look ridiculously unbalanced. No one mentioned it. Of course, I could only bear to look at the thing in the dark.

Here I freely admit that I would miss having a tree for one reason. I like to get up early in the morning, plug in the tree and then just sit in the darkened room sipping coffee and watching the lights twinkle, reflecting off the different ornaments and painting patterns on the wall.

How do you feel about having a Christmas tree? Is there a specific aspect of Christmas that you strive to keep the same every year, as a matter of tradition?