Sunday, December 1, 2013

Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

Yesterday we decorated our house for Christmas.  This has been a holiday tradition for Glenn and me since our first Christmas together.  In Norfolk, our house would be decorated inside and out with fresh pine boughs, white lights, and special ornaments.  The steep eaves of our house were always draped in white icicle lights lending a festive atmosphere to our entire neighborhood.  We have decorated in the cold, the rain, and even under the cover of night.  There was even the year when Glenn was unexpectedly at sea and the men of our neighborhood all pitched in to make sure the house was decked to our usual standards.  Because we were always visiting family on the holiday itself, the pinnacle of the season for us was our annual holiday open house where friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even family passing through the area would descend for food, music and festivities.  Our party was the single event I looked forward to each year and it was always a good time.  Regardless of where we were on Christmas day, decorating our house has always made it so easy to get into the holiday spirit.

We've carried our holiday traditions with us to Albania but have made the expected modifications.  Our tree is no longer a live pine; rather we have a soaring, perfectly shaped pre-lit tree that I must admit is pretty darn nice.  (As someone who grew up in a family that always cut their own fresh tree, switching to fake was a bit hard).  We've learned that not having to string those pesky lights is actually quite nice! Our eaves are no longer covered in white lights but both of the balconies that run along the front of our house are.  After three years our Albanian neighbors don't stare quite as much at the bright spectacle; the first year they didn't really know what to make of them, last year several neighbors attempted to emulate our efforts with a handful of their own colored light strings, and this year we've received thank yous from the same neighbors who actually get to enjoy the view more than we do.  And since we live in a house with limited electrical outlets, we've finally gotten the hang of which sets of lights we can plug into which outlets without tripping our circuit breakers.  Despite our best efforts, however,  for me, it has never felt quite like Christmas here in Albania.

While we've decorated the house for our past two Albanian Christmases, we've never actually been here on the holiday itself.  Our first year we road tripped to Croatia and Slovenia and last year we sought out snow and Christmas markets in Bavaria.  But this year, we'll be staying put for the big day then heading out of the country after the holiday.  And because we will actually be here, we're making more of an effort to make the house festive.  In years past we've set up our Christmas tree in our representational space, leaving our private living space barren of most Christmas adornment.  With the exception of our party and delayed gift opening in front of the tree, we haven't spent any time in our decked out rooms.  This year is different.  Sidney is older and getting into the holiday spirit so this year we've brought the decorations upstairs.  Sidney helped Glenn hang the lights and together we all decorated the tree.  Despite the cool temperatures we don't have snow at our house but we can see it on the mountains outside of the city.  Sitting in our living room lit with holiday lights it feels like it is Christmas and I love it.  Today's agenda includes more decorating and I'm getting a start on the copious amount of cookies I bake each year.  Yes indeed, the Christmas season is upon us and I'm beginning to feel it.

Happy holidays!

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