I started with the kids all sitting down to work on their make-up homework from our sick week. Some of them focused better than others, but I had my head on my projects and didn't monitor them as well as perhaps I ought to have. I think they all got some work done, though.
After that I assigned them various tasks and took Inge, Donna, and John and sorted through their dressers. An added bonus here is that my Louisa helped me with part of this. It was nice to work with her. We accomplished much straightening, but also pulling out clothes that were worn or too small. We didn't get Stella's done, but there's always tomorrow.
I helped Louisa with some organizing in the room that will be for her and Elsie when they are home. It had been just hers, but I've gradually moved much of Elsie's stuff in there and exchanged Louisa's twin sized bed for Elsie's full. In general, when she came home for her weekends, it was becoming harder and harder to move around. She knew where very few of her things had been put. And she wanted to get it straightened up before Elsie came home for Christmas.
So we moved Elsie's dresser into that room so that Louisa had room to put some of Elsie's things. But first we had to sand the top, since the blond finish had gotten dried and cracked during the time Elsie used it. We had also never gotten the mirror installed on it, so Joe did that, too. I scrubbed Hannah Montana stickers, crayon, mascara, and who knows what all off the mirror. Along with the blond finish that was cracked and crumbly, we scraped and sanded off glue, gum, wax, and other assorted build-up from the dresser surface. Elsie can help re-finish it when she's home. We might simply spray it with a coat of Krylon or Rust-o-leum; or we might actually redo the stain nicely and coat it with polyurethane.
About the time I was considering which of my many waiting organizational tasks to tackle next, a friend called to see if we had an extra Christmas tree stand. I thought we might, since we used to use one with our first artificial tree.
"But it will take me awhile to find, if I do still have it."
And besides, I thought to myself, it's a good excuse to tackle the messed up confusion of Christmas stuff I have been ignoring and adding to each year for at least seven years.
A few years ago, we stopped decorating the tree before Christmas. With all our kids, and all the ornaments they get each year, we simply had too many ornaments. We have been decorating the tree with lights only, and perhaps a purple ribbon for Advent. As the kids are given ornaments, they add them to the tree. And by the time the Christmas season is over, the tree is full. We have been simply boxing up each years' ornaments and stashing the box in the mess. And then we start fresh each consecutive year with another empty tree, just waiting for all the ornaments the kids will again be given.
Besides Christmas tree ornaments, as a pastor's family we seem to accumulate a large number of Christmas themed decorations. Our members are very generous and each year bless us with many decorative gifts. Way too many to put out each year. And they too, sadly, tend to be used for one or two years, and then boxed and set in the confusion of the store room.
But because of that, what used to be a somewhat, kind of well-organized gathering of boxes, has become instead an assorted mish-mash of bits and pieces of Christmas, packaged in small and large boxes, sitting pell mell on the shelves.
At one time, each child had a box of Christmas ornaments. Joe and I also had our favorites, some old and some new. Gradually, we simply had too many to use. We started by limiting each child to perhaps ten of their ornaments. And then five. And then three. They could choose each year which ones they wanted to use, but each child could only put up the designated number of ornaments.
Then even that got to be too many. So we stopped that tradition. I think it must have been about three years ago. And since then we add only the new ones we get each year.
So while looking for the tree stand, I took the time to go through EVERYTHING. But still found no tree stand.
I sorted and organized. I kept only the things I really liked, or were very special for sentimental reasons. This was hard, since so many were gifts from members and we love all our members.
But really, ... as nice as they are, how many nativity scenes can we use? How many church shaped candles or light-up angels? How many music boxes of Christmas carolers? I'm sorry to say that after the first few years, I tend to just leave them boxed up. By then I have a whole new supply from which to choose.
And boxed up, they don't do anyone any good. So I pulled out the nicest ones to give to second hand stores to share with others. All of them have been enjoyed for at least a handful of years here and there. But they do tend to accumulate.
Just as with children's clothing, I've had to decide to weed out Christmas decorations, too. And just as with the children's clothes, each has memories of those who've shared them with us. Some reminded me of friends who have already continued on to heaven. I found the beautiful snow globe I got from Mavis B. one year at the Ladies' Aid Christmas program. I found the many crocheted ornaments Gladys H. did for our children.
I packed away a whole box of things Joe's Grandma made for us or the kids; or things we got from among her things after she passed away. These treasures I'll save for the kids when they have their own homes.
After I got the kids ornaments organized, I ended up wtih:
- only found a couple of Jeremy's ornaments. I don't know if he has the rest, or if they simply got tucked in a different corner.
- Matt has two Currier and Ives tins like the ones Schwan's fills with ice cream at Christmas, plus a couple of things that didn't fit the tins.
- Louisa has two of the same tins plus a small box.
- Elsie has one tin of that same size, and two the smaller size that short bread cookies come in. Plus she had some other odds and ends that wouldn't fit in tins, so I found an extra large popcorn sized tin that fits her smaller tins plus her odds and ends.
- Clara has a popcorn tin.
- Sophie has a popcorn tin.
- John has a small box.
- Stella has a Currier and Ives sized tin and a round tub similiar to what Lincoln Logs or Tinker Toys used to come in.
- Donna has a shoe box.
- Inge has a shoe box.
I ran out of steam before I got everything else repacked. But I think I can get it down to:
- a box for lights and garland and ribbons.
- a box for books and puzzles
- a box for larger things like candles and creches.
- and the Christmas tree itself.
I have three boxes of things to send to the thrift stores. I think I'll save some of it for consignment next fall. But most will simply end up at the charity variety of thrift stores.
But alas! Sorry, Alison, that we didn't save that tree stand. After I was thinking about it, though, probably it would have been too small for a church sized tree anyway.