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Happy Holidays!




Happy Holidays from the Hendrys. I thought I might post a picture of our Christmas Tree, as a sort of blog Christmas Card. This shows off our pretty mantel (which is just cuttings from our land that Mark arranged with some leaves he painted gold) and, most importantly, the picture of Santa my mom painted. My brother and his sons came for Christmas dinner, and we ended up sitting in front of the fire staring at this picture – critiquing it (in a positive spirit). For example, Sant is holding a little black book in front of his big book of Good Girls and Good boys list . My brother insists that this little black book is where Santa keeps the “Nasty Girls” list, and he’s making a call . . .  Humm…… My brother also commented that if that was supposed to be Santa’s house, he would have a fancier Christmas tree in the background. I called my Mom and “told on him”. My Mom, indignant, said she’ll spank him next time she sees him for daring to make cracks about her picture. Ha. Always loved to get him in trouble. Why stop now?

Getting this magnifient Christmas tree was a trial this year. We only put it up two days before the holdiay (sigh). Our former tree (fake) was very slim and somewhat short, which was necessary to fit in our very slim and somewhat small home.  We wanted to purchase a big 12 footer this year, knowing anything else would be dwarfed in our room with 26 foot ceilings. A real tree was 200 bucks, more than we would ever spend on a temporary decoration, no mater how grand. So we went shopping on the internet for a bargain. We ended up finding a fake tree in Canada (also for 200 – but it would be used for several years so that seemed OK. Excited to get a big tree, we bought it. It took a month to arrive, because as it turns out, it was sitting in a Fed Ex warehouse in Chatanoogo because they had the wrong delivery address. Drat. By the time we figure out what had happened, we wouldn’t get it by Christmas, and who wants a tree after the fact, so we ended up driving 1 1/2 hours to pick it up ourselves. We stopped to visit Rock City and the lovely holiday light display at the same time to make this chore less of a chore. That was nice.

Now, it was two days before Christmas and we had a tree in a box. Time to put it up. 
Turns out this bargain tree comes in a million pieces (260 to be exact). So we begin shaping each and every branch (cussing all the time) and putting it together with the assistance of a huge ladder, because you can’t reach the top by standing alone. It took about six hours to put together this monsterous tree! Then Mark put up lights, but even using every light we own, the tree looked empty. We were determined not to buy anything new this year because we are in a “no-more’stuff” mode, so he resorted to using the big lights we formerly used on our roof in Sarasota. They twinkle, and this looked “disneyesque”, as he hoped.  Pretty (and a practical us of what we already had). That took another 4 hours. The Christmas spirit was now dwindling, despite the holiday music, new badge of fudge I was cooking, and the kid’s jokes about a tree designed to be put together only by rocket scientists. Even “fun work” can become overkill as the hours tick away.  But we kept at it.

We finally got to putting up ornaments. We have a zillion, because we’ve collected them for the entire 18 years we’ve been together. When we were young and broke it was the only thing we could afford. Ha, when we were older and broke, it was also the only thing we could afford. We would take a trip somewhere, and since the trip was all the budget could handle, we couldn’t buy nice souvineres and such. Therefore, orniments became our traditional purchase to remind us of places we have been and experiences we’ve shared. We even used to sneak off at dance conventions when it involved travel, to spend a few moments alone to diffuse, and we would buy something for our tree – something to remind us of family and home in the midst of all the dance craziness. Now, I’m glad that was our habit. It is fun to recollect life’s interesting journey once each year.

Finally, the tree was complete. I don’t know if the picture does it justice, but it is striking. We will probably keep it up ’till Easter knowing how much work it will be to take it down. Ah well, that is the price of bargain shopping. We may opt for a real tree in the future, which smells nice (although, remember, I have no sense of smell so it makes no difference to me, and we always have the mantle for the fresh everygreen smell for everyone else) but I do find the extra mess of a dried real tree (considering we usually put it up early, so it has lots of time to fall apart) somewhat off-putting.

Here is an “arial view” of Hendry’s Christmas-land from Mark’s office.

This shows our pretty chandaliere too. You may note we have these grand looking lions on the shelves of the rock. Believe it or not, they are concrete yard orniments that were sitting in our backyard for about eight years. They tarnished with time, until they are all grey and brown and goldish, just like the rock in the fireplace. A perfect match. But they weight about a sixty pounds each. Mark was determined to wedge them up there, because he thought they would look stately, and we had these empty shelves that required something. 

We looked at them and decided that perhaps they looked elusive, glancing away from the center of the room. So we decide he should reverse them. Back up the ladder he went, sweating and swearing as he changed them to the opposite side. He said, “Is this better?” I barely had the heart to tell him that now I thought they seem to be staring at whoever was sitting on the couch. It looked “closed in”. But I had to be honest, and he agreed. So, he changed them again. I was almost certain he would have a heart attack, and kept thinking, “Who but Mark would die over getting a mantle just the way he wants it?” Anyway, he survived, and now we have these great guardian lions watching over us. I sure like the them. They remind me of our old garden and the New York Public library where I once spent lots of time. I sure love it when my environment is filled with things that have private meaning.

O.K. enough about my fireplace and holiday decorations. I think I will share a few more pictures. Here are some of Neva with our beloved chickens. This, you must agree, is a happy kid.

 
You can also see our scraggly tree for the birds. By the way, not a single bird has partaken of our lovely birdseed cookies. I guess they haven’t discovered the bounty yet. I told Mark it was time to find our bird feeders and hang them so we can begin inviting feathered guests into the yard. He sighed. I am forever asking if he can find this or that in the huge clump of unpacked boxes in the garage. Patience is a virtue. I am not the most virtuous gal, I guess.

Kent recieved a new professional level drum set for Christmas. This was a very coveted, patiently awaited gift. He knew he was getting it, because it was very costly, so we made it his Birthday and Christmas gift, and he worked all summer picking up worksites to put 500 of his own money towards it too. This happens to be a big step up from his beginner set, and he will never need anything better should he continue developing his talent. The set sounds amazing. He is very proud, and I must admit
, it’s nice to spend money on a gift that supports an interest you feel good about, rather than more video games. We build an alcove in his room that has a loft with a matress above it to help drown out the sound. Perfect. But between you and me, life sometimes feels as if I am in a chinese water torture chamber because my son is always tapping rhythms on something – the back of the car seat, the kitchen table, the fence, the dog, my shoulder….. ahhhhhh!

For Christmas, Neva got a little baby bunny of her own (which she can keep in her room) and … well . . .  video games. Mark and I did not exchange this year. We bought ourselves a TV for the bedroom a month ago and stated it would be our mutual Christmas present. We haven’t watched TV for two years, and frankly, I miss it alittle. But each night we crawl into bed and turn it on and I fall asleep within five minutes, so it is not like I am finding out what the world watches yet. Ah well. I’m trying to keep in the loop of our current American culture, but it is a loosing battle. I deserve to be a hermit living in a cabin in the woods – I embarase myself when any conversation comes up about what is “new” or “popular” in our media or pop culture.  Who’d ‘a thunk that would ever be me? Well, actually my kids (and teen dance students) have always made a pont of defining how queer and clueless I was about what was cool. But back then, I had them to keep me somewhat savvy. Now, I am sadly un-pop-culture-fied.
Here is the drum set. Just looks like drums, I guess, but apparently these cymbols are state of the art. Gee, great. That probably means they are louder. 

     


Since I’ve talked about my big dogs and all the trouble they get into, I thought I’d share a picture of them too. Obviously, I just cleared out my camera. There are other things I really want to share visually, but that involves being more organized than I’ve been at this point. I will make an effort to take pictures of things I write about in the future. If I only knew how to set the timer, I could even share a few pictures of my grungy self in the throws my country efforts too. I should figure that out, just to give ya a laugh at my own expense.

Today, I must buckle down and begin the reading to prepare for my upcoming (and last) residency at school. I have all the manuscripts of other students to read and critique. Now that I know everyone in the program, it is much more interesting. It’s nice to see their growth and development (and their projects) knowing each individual’s personality and goals.
I must also go with Mark to pick up six huge rolls of hay today, and we have to fix the bunny cage for my new angoras. I have some cooking to do. We have started a huge health kick today (doesn’t everybody the day after Christmas.) I am finally asserting myself and putting my husband on a diet. I swear, he is a walking heart attack, considering some very trying business stress he’s been under. Yep, it is a day for getting important things in order…. I am taking charge.

I did get one lovely pre-christmas gift from Mark (“pre” because we were not exchanging., and there is no breaking the rules) It is a book called 1001 Books You must Read before you Die.” Love it. The only problem is, I’m too busy to read it. Ha.
I said, “I suppose I’ll be embarrased when I read this and find out I haven’t read any of the books I’m supposed to have read (to be considered an intellectual.) Mark laughed and said, “I bet you’ve read more of those recommended books than you know.” Considering the workload I’ve had with school, he may be right. Anyway, I have every intention in June (when I graduate) to begin plowing through the books listed. I am planning to live to 100, which means I must read  18.88 books a year for the rest of my life to complete the list. That is definately a makeable put, don’t ya think? It’s only 1 1/2 books a month, leaving me lots of time for my own selection of reading material. Yep, I now have a new life goal. (Like I needed one more?)

Merry Christmas. I hope Santa was good to you. But remember, we really have to make our own dreams come true. Have faith, inner conviction, know your own heart, and enjoy the journey. Life is so exciting when you realize how much power you have to control your experience on this earth! Make everyday, every moment, every smile, every thought, count! And remember to keep what you love a priority. In the end, that is the path to happiness – the real McCoy. 



 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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