Aaahhhh…the voice of Burl Ives singing in my ears…

We put up the Christmas tree this weekend. Ridiculously early, I know. In fact, it’s so early that the tree lots aren’t even open yet. But for the Clan, it was just the right time. We want and need a huge dose of Christmas cheer before Matt leaves on his deployment in early January. Knowing what’s coming after Christmas requires extra effort and a good head start, as this will be a bittersweet Christmas.

We made a day of it – putting up and decorating the tree together and then the boys making an awesome lasagna dinner. Even though Matt and Moni don’t live at home anymore and had other obligations and commitments, they took the time to come together with the rest of us. I’m so proud of our kids and the way they love and support one another – and the way they love and support Mark and I.

Normally, we don’t put our tree up until the Sunday before Christmas and I have to admit, it was a bit of a challenge to get those Christmasy sentiments stirred up. It’s the first time ever that I was truly grateful to have an artificial Christmas tree. Most of the Clan prefers real ones, but this one was dirt-cheap on clearance one year, and it’s an especially nice one (for a faker) and so we just couldn’t resist. It’s also the first time ever that I was grateful for the umpteen radio stations that start playing their annoying and endless barrage of holly jolly diddies the day after Halloween. That otherwise would have driven me right up a wall. But this Saturday we turned the radio up loud and let the hollies jolly as much as they desired; it actually helped us get in the Christmas spirit. Per tradition, we discovered at least two sets of lights with dead sections that we couldn’t bring back to life. That got us into a Christmas spirit of another kind. There never seems to be enough of those gorgeous twinkly little lights – until you have to work through them one by one, wiggling and twisting in hopes of finding the one culprit. Then there are way, way too many. Who bought all those doggone lights, anyway?

This morning, the heavenly Father gave us another push to our head start – a beautiful, two-inch snowfall. The first measurable snowfall in Wisconsin is always a delight. Certainly I can say that because I don’t have to go out in it. But, when you look outside and see everything coated with that glittery white stuff, you just can’t help but take a deep breath and marvel at God’s handiwork.

So we have our beautiful tree and our beautiful snow and a beautiful feeling of knowing that we are Clan. Nothing can take that away from us, ever. Busy schedules, physical distance, the normal scrapes and scratches of family life, not even a dangerous year-long deployment to the Middle East can separate us, for our hearts are permanently bound together in the heart of our Blessed Mother. No matter what happens, we are Fenelon Clan.

Merry Christmas!

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