Late this afternoon I took some pictures of some of the Christmas decorations that we have put up in and around the house.
Last year in Alaska was such a strange and chaotic and daunting year on so many levels, and there was only one Santa Claus decoration in our Unabomber Cabin in the woods 20 miles outside the city of Juneau during the Christmas season of 2010.
The one giant Santa was all the energy and enthusiasm I could muster.
Which is uncharacteristic of me.
It is the one holiday of the year that I love.
I do things during this holiday that I typically do very little of the rest of the year.
Things like shopping. In stores.
And decorating in greens and reds and silvers and golds and putting cute figurines around the house.
And watching old movies that do not include car chases and gun fights and exploding buildings.
It is the one time of year where I become unabashedly sentimental, loving, emotional and giving.
The one time of year when I am consumed by the love I feel for the people I love.
Many decorations that I collected over the years went to my oldest son and his wife and although I miss them I am glad they went to family and not to strangers who bought so many of our other belongings before LC and I headed for Juneau.
But my sweet Mountain Boy dragged so many other things all the way across country because he knew that I liked them and every day I remain deeply touched that he cared so much and tried so hard.
In addition to old decorations I have also picked up other Christmas things along the way this past year, from the time we were in Wyoming and since we have returned home to Tennessee.
This is the Christmas tree that we have in our living room.
I bought it for only a few dollars at a yard sale in Wyoming not long after we moved into the small cabin just outside of Cody.
Ridiculously I set the tree up in the corner of the tiny living room in early Spring, covered it with lights and kept it up throughout our time in Wyoming.
I loved it, our elderly neighbor lady thought I was crazy, and my Mountain Boy just smiled.
The stupid cheap tree drove LC three shades of crazy while we were packing and he looked at me with exasperation at one point while we were desperately trying to fit everything we owned into our trucks and on the trailer, and asked me why the hell we were going through so much trouble to fit a $5 Christmas tree onto the trailer.
It was a good question for which I had no good answer.
But somehow of course we found a place for the three pieces that made up the tree and now it is sitting in the living room and it is beautiful...........
I have had these big Santas for a lot of years.
The little brown and white wooden doll on the table is actually the largest of a set of nesting dolls that I bought while in Sitka Alaska during Thanksgiving last year.
Sitka (actually the entire southeast region of Alaska) has a very strong Russian history and the dolls were actually made in Russia.
I bought one set for me while I was there and one set for my oldest boy and his wife.............
This is my favorite Christmas tree ornament.
It is the hood ornament from a Dodge Ram and used to sit on the white 1983 Dodge Ram that belonged to my youngest son Chris.
He bought the truck when he was a junior in high school for $500 and it drove like a tank.
He loved - absolutely loved - that truck, and he spent the Summer between high school and his first year of college tooling all over middle Tennessee with four of his friends in that beast.
There were no fishing holes within a 50 miles radius that these kids hadn't checked out.
They even once knocked on the front door of a shack belonging to an old man up "on the mountain" in Sewanee who had a lake on his property.
As the story goes, the man answered the front door wearing no shirt and bib overalls and chickens actually walked out of the house.
Walked out of the house.
(Insert redneck joke here).
The boys fished that day on a small private lake in back of a house that was also the home to chickens.
He loved that truck so much that he once broke up with a girl he was dating when she said that she did not like it.
When he finally sold the truck and bought himself a Ranger he kept the hood ornament. I do not remember how I ended up with it but I put it on my tree every year.
It reminds me of my boy.............
LC gave the rocking chair to Sean before leaving for Juneau and I shamelessly asked for it back when we returned to Tennessee.
As I said to someone before "I gave the boy life. The least he can do is give me back my rocking chair".
A yard sale find probably 10 years ago...............
I bought the two wooden Christmas signs this past Summer while we were living in Wyoming.
As I walked away with them the lady who was running the sale told me that she hated to part with them because her husband made them for their children many years before.
I happily assured her that they were going to a good home, but they were also two more of those things that drove my Mountain Boy crazy while we were packing to return to Tennessee.
Where to put them so they wouldn't get broken and "why the hell are we spending so much time and energy on finding a safe place for cheap Christmas crap anyway???".............
A lighted tug boat that began in Tennessee, traveled to Juneau, traveled to Wyoming and now is back in Tennessee...............
A musical angel bought at a yard sale only a couple of months ago not long after we arrived back here..........
These musical snow globes have also traveled 8000 miles.
The one with zebras is a snow globe that Chris gave to me for Christmas when he was just a young boy.
It plays the song Born Free and I love it very much............
I bought this table top tree at a second hand store a couple of weeks ago.
The snow-shoeing and skiing Santas were bought years ago.
I had another Santa decoration with a snowboard on his feet but Chris is learning how to snowboard right now up in Manitoba and I sent it to him when I mailed Christmas presents up to him recently...........
Although it does not look like it this Christmas stocking is old.
I bought two of them exactly the same when the boys were only two and four years old.
Sean's is hanging from a door knob in the den leading to the laundry room and Chris' is in a box waiting for him to come home...........
Bought at a yard sale in Wyoming this past Summer, he is heavy and gorgeous............
Both LC's and my favorite Santa he is sitting on an end table in the den.
He has also traveled 8000 miles over the past two years and it is a testament to my Mountain Boys' care in packing that this fragile figure made it home in one piece............
A canvas floor mat used as a cover for the end table that we bought at a yard sale in Wyoming...........
Another Christmas tree in the office that I also bought recently at a second hand store.
LC teases me and says that it has so many lights on it that it could be used on an airplane runway.
But I think that it still needs more............
I bought this old Coca Cola print many years ago also at a yard sale.............
She is a little scarred and scratched and beaten, but then again so is her owner...........
Another Wyoming yard sale purchase.............
One more small tree bought at my favorite second hand store and it is sitting in the spare bedroom.
The bedroom still needs work and so does the tree...............
In the half bathroom..............
This little tree was made by LC's now grown daughter when she was only a child.
It is made out of a Styrofoam cone, tinsel, small lights, small bands of ribbon and tiny ornaments.
LC told me that for many years when he was single this was his only Christmas decoration.
It is old, beat up and has seen better days but it is beloved and we will always proudly and lovingly keep it.............
Whatever else be lost among the years, let us keep Christmas still a shining thing.
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, let us hold close one day, remembering its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again."...............Grace Noll Crowell