For the past week, we've been having tons of snow here in Durham, England. There is now about 12 inches on the ground and everyday a little bit more falls. Like most people I have a love/hate relationship with the snow. It's beautiful and really makes me feel like Christmas is coming, but I really hate going outside in it.
Last night, Todd and I put up our tree and stockings. In Ambridge, we only had a tree our first year of marriage and thereafter never bothered with a tree. This year we were given all of our Christmas supplies from a family who moved back to the States this summer. I bought a lot of kitchen items and linens from them and they threw in their Christmas stuff for free (Thanks Laurie!). I've never been one for "Christmas spirit", in fact, the holidays usually mean anxiety over what gifts to buy. But this year we put up the stockings and tree that were given to us and we had fun decorating in our Santa hats.
I grew up with always having a freshly chopped-down Christmas tree, the house always smelling like a pine or spruce tree (blue spruce in particular if my Mother had anything to say about it). The tree was always decorated with white lights and red beads and every year my brother and I got a new ornament to put on the tree. It was always fun to open up the ornaments we had gotten before and stroll down memory lane remembering how long we've had each one and which was our favorite. Our tree was always pretty, but had the personal touches of our family.
This year, we have a fake tree- it's my first. There is no spruce smell in the house and the tree is decorated in multi-colored lights, red and silver balls, silver snow flakes and one Piglet and one Eeyore ornament. It's wonderfully tacky and I love that I don't have to water it, clean the needles up or worry about the dogs destroying it! We haven't had a tree for the past three years because we couldn't justify spending money on it and all the decorations, and since we were always not at our home for Christmas, we didn't see the point. Because of that, I also never felt the excitement leading up to Christmas. But this year, I'm delighted in the fact that we spent no money and still got to have a fun night of decorating, watching the snow fall and listening to Christmas music (sadly, I left my Sarah McLachlan Wintersong album at home, but we still had some Bing Crosby to fill the void).
This year, having our tree, Christmas decorations and all this snow, I am excited for the Christmas season. Funny enough, even with all my "Christmas spirit" I've just booked our 4 day getaway to the Canary Islands from December 19-22 (our only Christmas gift to each other), where there will be no snow and only warm sunny days and beaches. I do, however, look forward to coming back to Durham for the days leading up to Christmas and Christmas eve at the Cathedral. Maybe all the snow will still be around for the Christmas festivities when we return.