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the christmas progression

December 18, 2012

When I was a kid I dreaded the holiday season.

This was mostly because I was jealous that my classmates came back from Christmas vacation with awesome things like Jelly Shoes and Michael Jackson records (yes, I am THAT old), while I came back with nothing but memories of fighting with my siblings for 2 weeks.

Maya trimming our Kmart tree...

Maya trimming our Kmart tree…

That’s why I always promised myself that when I got married I’d make Christmas a big deal. And I did.

For one year anyway, until I realized that making a turkey for 20 people in a tiny European-sized oven, cleaning a s@#$-ton of dishes in a tiny European-sized dishwasher, and then paying someone to chop up our Christmas tree on December 26th (Homeowner’s Association Rule # 15, Section 7) is really not as fun as I thought it would be.

I really wanted a tree with equally spaced ornaments. Since Maya was on the decorating committee we unfortunately do not have a tree with equally spaced ornaments.

I really wanted a tree with equally spaced ornaments…but since Maya was on the decorating committee we unfortunately do not have a tree with equally spaced ornaments.

Here’s how things progressed after year one:

  • Year 2: We bought a 4 foot tree, called over our parents, and pre-ordered a turkey from Bristol Farms.
  • Year 3: We bought a table top tree from Trader Joe’s, invited my brother over, and I made Shake ‘N Bake.
  • Year 4: We celebrated Christmas at an Italian restaurant in Dubai.
  • Year 5: Maya burst onto the scene and we forewent Christmas altogether as her nonstop screaming gave us no alternative.
Christmas at The Grove.

Christmas at The Grove.

Now that Maya is older I am once again making an effort. Mostly because I don’t want her to be the kid who doesn’t come back to school in January with Lip Smackers or a collection of very cool erasers.

(Can you tell I’m still traumatized from my elementary school days?)

Dylan's Candy Bar @ The Grove

Classy Maya at Dylan’s Candy Bar at The Grove licking chocolate off a wrapper.

So Christmas will never be a Hallmark moment – our pre-lit fake Kmart tree will forever ensure that. But I’m thinking that as long as I stay away from the Shake ‘N Bake things will likely be…okay.

74 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2012 12:25 am

    This is such a cute post!! Love the Christmas tree. Even though the ornaments are not equally placed, it does look gorgeous 🙂

  2. glamorous glutton permalink
    December 18, 2012 1:13 am

    Beautiful baubles even if they aren’t perfectly spaced. I remember one year insisting on a real tree for my first floor sitting room. The beautiful pliable green tree turned into a rigid bare cone of branches that wouldn’t go down the stairs and had to be chopped up in the house first!! GG

    • December 18, 2012 9:36 pm

      That happened to our first tree as well…it ended up being one big giant fire hazard!

  3. December 18, 2012 2:10 am

    I vote you revisit the Italian food in Dubai! But that may just be my wanderlust talking.
    And yeah, just say no to Shake n Bake:)

    • December 18, 2012 9:36 pm

      Shake N Bake was great…I have no idea what was in it though. I think I’d be terrified of the ingredient list now.

  4. December 18, 2012 3:40 am

    Now that my family is spread all over the country, it’s been a running theme to postpone Christmas until we’re all available. This year, we’re not opening gifts until the evening of the 26th. Last Christmas it was so hectic, we all opened gifts in front of each other via Skype conference video chat! Ah, memories.

    • December 18, 2012 9:37 pm

      Christmas on Skype…why not? At least you’re all together, right?

  5. December 18, 2012 5:01 am

    Love this post- so cute! Maya is a lucky girl :)! I went to an International school my whole life and always used to get jealous hearing about all their Christmas traditions! Although we don’t do a fraction as much, we are doing the whole Christmas lunch do this year which I’m pumped about- that alone will make the day seem all the more festive. And I’m trying to organise Secret Santa just for the novelty aspect!

    • December 18, 2012 9:38 pm

      I think Secret Santa is a great idea…I hope we can do that one year too!

  6. December 18, 2012 5:28 am

    My mom feel the need to have to make such a production of the holiday. I was on the phone with her last week and she was seriously stressed that she still had almost 10 boxes of decorations to put out. 10. I told her that Christmas really shouldn’t cause so much stress and if they don’t get out, it’s fine (it often looks like christmas vomited in our house), but it seems to be her “thing” she has to do. I finally give up arguing at some point.

    • December 18, 2012 9:38 pm

      “christmas vomited in our house.” I will never, ever forget how funny that statement is. 10 boxes!!

  7. December 18, 2012 5:30 am

    Our tree is a compromise: I EVENLY SPACE the lights, the red beaded garland, the bows, and my strands of sparkly stars. The boys go to town with the ornaments. They’ve actually gotten pretty good at it as they’ve gotten older. The bigger boy directs the little one. Love your Christmas post!!!

    • December 18, 2012 9:41 pm

      I am envious of your evenly spaced tree…I want one of those. One day!

  8. December 18, 2012 6:03 am

    I am a big Christmas decorator and we live in a Studio apt (eek). It definitely looks like Christmas threw up in here but I really enjoy it when being away from family 🙂

    I don’t blame Maya for licking the chocolate off that wrapper – their candy is gooood!

    • December 18, 2012 9:42 pm

      Hysterical: “Christmas threw up in here.” I love it!

  9. December 18, 2012 6:09 am

    Sounds like it will be a wonderful Christmas! The tree is beautiful! I always feel that any tree put up and decorated with love is perfect. Love the big blue bird!

    • December 18, 2012 9:42 pm

      Thank you Fran. I think my mom bought us that blue bird!

  10. December 18, 2012 6:17 am

    The history of your holiday celebrations is hilarious. I, too, always hope for a tree decorated with evenly space ornaments but my husband usually has other plans!

    • December 18, 2012 9:43 pm

      Hah. My husband didn’t participate in decoration at all! I guess it’s an all or nothing kind of thing?

  11. December 18, 2012 6:21 am

    I am yet to get a tree and decorations AND PRESENTS for my Christmas & Santa crazy 3 year old. Where I live right now, there is no charm in celebrating Christmas, but I am doing whatever possible to help my toddler enjoy hers. I also hope to bake a yule log 🙂

    • December 18, 2012 9:45 pm

      A yule log would put anybody in the Christmas mood…love that you even know how to start that project!

  12. December 18, 2012 6:55 am

    Since my brother and I, both went to convent schools both of us are into Christmas. My mum’s Christmas fruit cake is to die for (totally random I know, can you guess I am craving it 🙂 )

    I am planning to have our own little christmas tree each year, just so our little one doesn’t stay left out. Isn’t it a win-win for our kids, gifts on Eid,Diwali etc and Christmas too 🙂

    • December 18, 2012 9:45 pm

      So true. It does feel like I’m giving Maya gifts all year long!

  13. December 18, 2012 7:43 am

    Maya is such a doll!
    I don’t think she’ll feel left out present wise 😉


  14. December 18, 2012 7:46 am

    I’ve made it our tradition to do Diwali gifts instead of Christmas. We put up outdoor lights for Diwali that stay on till Jan. That being said, we do celebrate the season because my Big Day is on Christmas eve and I do fuss around our New Years’ Party. So there is a lot of celebration and festivity around. But then, I didn’t grow up here, so tell me more about what needs to show up in those backpacks in Jan……Fancy erasers, Lip smackers……

    • December 18, 2012 9:53 pm

      All I remember is that I wanted a whole bunch of little things I could show off to my friends…it’s all about the little things.

  15. December 18, 2012 7:55 am

    Christmas isn’t really a religious holiday for me, even though I’m a religious person. And I think everyone should join in the fun of good food and presents. Maya’s creating some really great memories (unequally spaced ornaments and all).

    • December 18, 2012 9:54 pm

      I agree…it’s all about good fun and family and presents. It’s not a religious holiday for us either!

  16. December 18, 2012 8:26 am

    Maya is a beautiful little girl. I like your K-mart tree, and that pair of ice skate ornament! I used to be very particular with my Christmas tree too (got it from JoAnn’s for a deal about 8 years ago! :-). It usually only had gold coloring, now it has every other colors because I let my kids decorate them with their “artworks” in the hope that they will stop bickering. They do but then they start again on Christmas morning about who gets to open the present first… Oh well.. 🙂

    • December 18, 2012 10:01 pm

      I hear JoAnn’s is a great store…I haven’t been in ages because there isn’t one near us. I had no idea they sell Christmas trees?

  17. December 18, 2012 8:41 am

    Aww when is Maya’s Bday? Right around Xmas?

    And true story, my Dad *still* buys me lip smackers every Christmas. This year he sent the Girl Scout Cookie flavors. Not even kidding.

    • December 18, 2012 10:01 pm

      Seriously? Your dad is awesome. I love his consistency!

  18. December 18, 2012 9:15 am

    I really like Shake n’ Bake (and Kraft mac n cheese from the blue box). Sounds like the perfect holiday meal to my non-Christmas celebrating self 🙂

    PS: I have really really wanted to go to Dylan’s Candy Bar!

    • December 18, 2012 10:03 pm

      You would love Dylan’s…come visit me and we’ll take you there!

  19. peacebeme permalink
    December 18, 2012 9:40 am

    Mmmm…lip smackers! Loved those.

  20. December 18, 2012 10:12 am

    After Thanksgiving I get all bah humbug at the amount of work Christmas takes but the closer it gets I always give in and do the big dinners and make a big deal, it’s inevitable.

    • December 18, 2012 10:07 pm

      I bet you do a fantastic job making it a big deal! I’d love to attend your Christmas dinner…

  21. December 18, 2012 11:25 am

    I am always awed by Christmas..So, this is the first time we are going to put up a star nad I am planning to bake a fruit cake..:)…Its awfully sweet of you to celebrate christmas so that Maya doesnt feel left out the way you did…Merry Christmas!!!

    • December 18, 2012 10:07 pm

      Merry Christmas to you too! I hope the fruit cake is amazing.

  22. December 18, 2012 12:20 pm

    Last year with a newborn, I made a full-course Indian meal for my whole family despite my husband telling me otherwise. As if I didn’t remember that was a mistake, I’m doing it again this year – Greek themed this time. Oy.

    • December 18, 2012 10:09 pm

      I can’t even make a meal without a newborn…so I am very impressed. Good luck with the Greek theme this year – but I know you don’t need it. I’m sure it’ll be amazing!

  23. Taking On Magazines permalink
    December 18, 2012 12:27 pm

    That really is sweet of you to put up the tree and all those other things for Maya. Kudos to you and Ali for that. I love the Lip Smackers too, by the way. Remember the really big tubes? I wish I could find those for Dudette. She’s always losing hers. 🙂

    • December 18, 2012 10:12 pm

      I loved the big tubes too! So glad someone else understands the appeal of Lip Smackers.

  24. thedelicateplace permalink
    December 18, 2012 12:58 pm

    my mother went crazy for christmas decorated everything in sight. i grew up and am lucky to have a rosemary table top shrub as a tree. so much is going on right now, i don’t even have that! i did put up a couple ‘winter themed’ items around our place but the pickins are slim!

    • December 18, 2012 10:14 pm

      Table Top Shrub? This is not something I am familiar with…so intrigued.

  25. December 18, 2012 1:51 pm

    So funny you wrote this, I have pretty awful memories of Christmas growing up. All my friends would be getting Bonjovi CDs and clothes and money, and I would get nothing. It sucked. I make Christmas a big deal for my nieces, and I bake a few things around the holidays since we celebrate big family style. Lovely photos.. love the picture of classy Maya, so pretty.

    • December 18, 2012 10:15 pm

      Agreed! It definitely was not fun being left out of everything. So nice of you to make Christmas a big deal for your nieces!

  26. December 18, 2012 2:00 pm

    I never celebrated xmas growing up and secretly wished i did for all the amazing presents and i feel better that it was not only me who felt that way 😛 However, I try to do some stuff here and there for my cousins because I want them to have good memories 🙂 Maya is such a cutie- loved the candy wrapper licking pic.

    • December 18, 2012 10:16 pm

      It’s really nice of you to do things for your cousins…they’ll really appreciate it as they get older!

  27. December 18, 2012 2:45 pm

    Some people go crazy over Christmas decorations and presents. For me the tree is plenty. If I had a kid I might do lights and there would surely be more presents but at the same time not too many because I’d want them to know that’s not what Christmas is really about. But who could forget that first day after Christmas where everyone compares notes about what they got? I might not have ever gotten as many things as some of the other kids but I was always happy with what I had and that my parents tried. Hopefully Maya will feel the same.

    • December 18, 2012 10:17 pm

      I think Maya will feel the same…she’s usually happy with whatever she gets. Even if it’s just a $1 thing from Target. I love that about her!

  28. hcoving permalink
    December 18, 2012 3:58 pm

    Step away from the Shake N Bake! Panko and fresh herbs – much tastier and just as easy. I am with you on Christmas. This year, we only got out a fraction of our decorations and I am feeling kind of Scroogy about it all. Trying to fake that I am into it for the kids sakes.

    • December 18, 2012 10:18 pm

      Rest assured that I stepped away from the Shake N Bake years ago…love the Panko idea instead. I’ll have to buy some and try it.

  29. December 18, 2012 4:16 pm

    I love the ornaments all bunched together. That’s what Shane always does to our tree. Not sure why kids prefer the crowded-in-one-spot look. We usually order a precooked meal.

    • December 18, 2012 10:18 pm

      A precooked meal for you too? So glad that I’m not the only one…

  30. December 18, 2012 8:52 pm

    Your Kmart tree is perfect and love the ornaments too, esp. the ice skates. We finally have our Xmas tree…not qute the same feeling in India, but if I need a dose of christmas cheer they overdo the malls here now with christmas decorations!!

    • December 18, 2012 10:19 pm

      Thanks Amelia…I love your name by the way. I know one other Amelia but she’s Pakistani. So pretty.

  31. December 19, 2012 2:15 pm

    Christmas can be such a project. I have been debating whether or not to cut down our usual driveway tree (tree cut from patch of forest next to driveway) and decorate. Part of me wants to pass. Sounds like a big mess, plus will baby Reed really know that I skipped his first Christmas? Probably not. I should take him over to someone else’s house and snap a photo in front of their tree. He’ll never the difference when he looks back on the photo as an adult…right?

    • December 20, 2012 3:50 pm

      Of course he won’t know…and you can save yourself some effort. Right now, with an infant, I’m sure you just want to sleep. So I say walk on down to someone else’s house and take that picture. 🙂

  32. December 20, 2012 3:25 pm

    I think it’s so difficult when we have traditions we want for our children if we’re not fully invested in them. I also think it’s difficult when children decorate. Can I accidentally toss the NY Rangers and Grinch ornaments? Mine from ABC are so much nicer….but no.

    • December 20, 2012 3:50 pm

      I guess if I had a boy I’d be dealing with sport-oriented ornaments as well?

  33. December 20, 2012 4:38 pm

    See, the jelly shoes thing made me think, wow you are THAT young.

    I’ve let go of the idea of evenly spaced ornaments – it’s a fair tradeoff for my kids doing the work of decorating the tree.

    • December 24, 2012 6:51 pm

      You know what Jelly Shoes are! I used to love those.

  34. akismet-069f82b6d320654603807f0aa4a9f1e9 permalink
    December 20, 2012 10:13 pm

    Fab Tree!

    Have a wonderful Christmas w/ your beautiful family, Ameena. xx

  35. December 20, 2012 11:31 pm

    I happen to love the tree and these pictures!!! It is so much work, the Holidays. I use to do so much, homemake all of the goodies, deliver baskets, so on and so forth. I can’t do it right now, at least. I say amen to the Shake n Bake, whatever keeps it so that we can feel the true meaning of Christmas. I’m so glad I found your blog, it just makes me happy to read it. Merry Christmas.

    Shauna xoxoxoxxo

    • December 25, 2012 1:23 pm

      Merry Christmas to you too Shauna…and I’m sure that even if you can’t do everything you used to do your Christmas will still be postcard perfect.

  36. December 23, 2012 12:20 am

    You yourself are a bauble….so fun to witness and watch sparkle. Maybe not spaced EVENLY, but definitely PERFECTLY.

    • December 25, 2012 1:24 pm

      You have such a way with words…thank you my friend!

  37. December 23, 2012 3:35 pm

    Your Christmases sound pretty good to me. I’m all about going to as little effort as possible. Actually, this year I even did about 90% of my Christmas shopping at the liquor store.

    • December 25, 2012 1:26 pm

      I bet most, if not all, of your recipients will love your gift!


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