Monday, December 7, 2009

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...And Big Yellow Trucks?

I can't say that I agree so much with Julie Andrews and HER favorite things. (Or possibly they are Rodgers and Hammerstein's favorite things.) However, it got me thinking about a few of MY favorite things. Heck, Oprah's got her list. I might as well make mine. Here are a few of my favorite (and not-so-favorite) things...about Christmas: (Listed in no particular order)

1. The sheer craziness of Christmas. How all of a sudden it's totally normal for the entire population of Oklahoma to end up on 71st street each weekend from Black Friday through January 1. I don't take to fighting crowds too often, however, it somehow makes me feel festive when I see nothing but cars from Garnett to Memorial.

2. Interior illumination provided only by Christmas tree lights and the fire burning through the fake logs in the fake fireplace that was turned on by the flip of a switch. Mmmmm, cozy.

3. The adventure of picking out the "perfect" Christmas tree, bringing it home safely* (see note #10 below), and enjoying the house-filled scent of pine needles.

4. The endless supply of Christmas music on the radio. Even though I swear they play the same 12 songs over and over and over. Really, how many versions of White Christmas do we need, people?

5. Big, red poinsettias. (pronounced poin, like coin, set, uh. Don't say'll sound like a snob.)

6. Parties, parties, parties. I mean if you can get people together with food, drinks and cheerful music, what's not to love? Those are a few of MY favorite things...any time of year.

7. Christmas Programs. I loved being in these as a child and now it melts me into a puddle of gushy mommy goo to watch my own children recreate the story of Christmas (the Jesus one, not the Santa one.)

8. Tacky Christmas sweaters. Some have gone so far as to have tacky Christmas sweater parties. But truth be told, Christmas embellishments should be left for trees, garland and candles, not anything apparel related. Glue guns + Christmas sweaters = big no no.

9. The idea that we get to "threaten" our kids with "Do you want me to call Santa?" and "Ok, I guess you will be getting coal in your stocking this year" as our toughest negotiation tactics. Santa has even been known to call the house.

10. Christmas cookies, candies and snackie poos. (I hope to take pics of the kids making our favorite cookies, so I will post those later.)

11. Shopping. As if I needed an excuse, now I get to do it because I HAVE to...awesome.

12. The fact that our neighborhood is pulling about a 93% participation rate for hanging outdoor lights. I LOVE IT!

13. Making each gift a beautifully wrapped package with a matching, original, hand-tied (and probably sparkly) Macey bow.

14. Getting to listen to "Mary Did You Know" and "O Holy Night". I love them. Someday I will sing these before an audience. Chances are that audience will be my dogs or perhaps a deaf audience, but I'm gonna do it. Mark my words.

15. To be reminded about the incredibly outrageous gift of God becoming man through a virgin birth in order to pay the ultimate price for sin so that we don't have to fear death and we can be in the presence of the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. I am so proud and honored to be his princess.

Now a few of my Not-So-Favorite Things.

I Do NOT Love:
1. Vacuuming up pine needles for months on end after removing the Christmas tree from the house. (Although it seems when in operation the vacuum always gives us a nice poof of pine scent until about March.)

2. Getting the boxes BACK down from the attic, packing up all of the decor and then making a New Year's resolution to get the boxes back UP into the attic before July. Then realizing that we REALLY need to organize the attic...ahhh, we'll do it next year.

3. The fact that it seems to get to about 33 degrees each December. We rarely get snow. If anything it's a cold rain, or ice.

4. Bell Ringers. I'm sorry. I know, I'm going to Christmas jail. I'm not trying to be cold hearted, but really I should give a quarter to all of them that I see, then everyone's happy. Salvation Army gets my donation, kids get a candy cane and I don't feel guilty for walking past the next 40 ringers because I gave to the first one of the season.

5. Having to fight the traffic to get to the mall to stand in line with other children who are hot, cranky and tired just to have 2 seconds on Santa's knee and pay $25 for a photo where both kids aren't even looking at the camera or smiling. "Kids, did you tell Santa that mommy wants some patients for Christmas...or maybe some sedatives?"

6. Trying to honestly teach our kids that Christmas is NOT about getting gifts. It's about giving and telling people how much you love and appreciate them. I feel bad for all of the movies we watch, but if we barrage them with Christmas DVDs then at least they're not being bombarded with the gotta-have's of target marketing!

7. The impossibly hard plastic packaging that is even scissor resistant.

8. Trying to figure out where to store all of the new toys, realizing we are a totally spoiled family, and finally deciding to hide 1/2 of the kids' toys to re-gift them as brand new gifts next year. (Ha ha. Kidding!)

9. Having the great "box" debate with Sean each year. I try to convince him that every Christmas I always need boxes for wrapping presents, so bagging them up and storing them in the attic for me all year is the smartest and cheapest way to go. :D

And finally...

10. Not bringing our Christmas tree safely* home.

One year, one fateful Christmas season...our tree and almost our family, did not make it home “safely“. (Pause for dramatic effect) This is still hard to talk about, but the truth begs to be revealed and maybe if one person or one tree is saved, then I've done my part.

A couple years ago, Sean was working long holiday hours at the golf course. Gavin, I believe, had just turned 1 and we were setting out to get our annual Highberger Family Christmas tree...Griswold style. That's right, we headed to Home Depot. (What? You think we're dragging our baby out to the (not) snowy pastures of Oklahoma to cut down our own tree? You must be kidding.) Time had somehow escaped us and we were later into the season than normal for tree hunting. Not only was it late in the season, but for some reason we chose the coldest, wettest, nastiest day of the year to pick out our newest addition. I remember standing at Home Depot, dodging rain drops, looking for just the right tree. It didn't take too long, there were about five left.

Sean paid for the tree while Gavin and I went to the car to escape the weather. As we warmly waited it started to pour. Sean got to the car and started to put the tree on top of our SUV. I leaned my head out of the door and asked if he needed my assistance, as any good wife would, but secretly hoped he'd say no. And to my fortune, he told me he could get it. I remember watching him heave the tree on to the top of our SUV as it landed with a thud.

I also remember the tie down process: two bungee cords strapped across the tree in a crisscross formation. After it was sufficiently secure, my rain-soaked, and pretty annoyed husband entered the car, mumbling under his breath. This was NOT the Christmas spirit I had hoped for. We started our journey back home, discussing how we'd have to leave the tree in the garage to dry out before we could decorate it. Ugh. Pouty face. We made our way from one highway to another when I heard a terrible noise, like the roof was being ripped off. I looked at Sean to see if he shared my same concern, when I noticed his squinted eyes were staring straight into the rear view mirror. His look of curiosity changed quickly to astonishment as he said, "We just lost the tree!"

My mind did a quick double take...was this the same "we just lost the tree" joke that my dad pulled on me when I was young? After the whole family (all three of us) had gone outside, he told me as he simultaneously faked the front door being locked, that we were locked out?? Was this the same "we just lost the tree" joke as I experienced as a kid being told that there was something on my shirt and when I looked down, the other person would flick my nose? Was I to fall for this again? Do I look only to be met with a "Gotcha!"? Or, was that terrible noise that I heard from the roof, ACTUALLY our tree falling off. Too many clues pointed to the truth. I turned my head and looked out the back window of the SUV to find our Christmas tree, bouncing down the highway behind us. It HAD fallen off.

Sean slowed down and pulled over on the side of the road. Now multiple fears dashed through my mind: tree + highway = how the heck do you get something like that out from the middle of the highway?? Sean + highway = high anxiety for the wife sitting in the SUV!!! Will our sob story get us a new tree from the teens working at Home Depot? (Like a dropped ice cream cone at Brahm's!) Can we just leave it there?? Should we run?? Flight or fight and I'm ready to fly! Sean started to open his door as I stopped him, "Wait. What are you going to do?" "I'm going to get our Christmas Tree, Macey!"

If you've never noticed the shoulder of the highway is NOT very wide. I was, however, the super helpful wife and aided my husband with my verbal cues for the number of cars quickly approaching at 70+ mph, and that it wasn't safe "yet", when I saw it coming up over the horizon. It was a scene straight from an old western movie where the antagonist makes his appearance over the slow motion. I think I even heard Darth Vader's Imperial March playing in the background as I noticed a large, monster-type, yellow truck QUICKLY approaching OUR tree. "Sean!!!," I exclaimed to make sure we were seeing the same thing. Every other car on the highway that day saw our tree, and maneuvered safely to another lane to avoid it. But not this yellow truck. As God (and Sean) is my witness, that (expletive) yellow truck ran over our beloved Christmas tree...and before our very eyes, our Christmas tree literally blew up.

I can't remember exactly what words came from my mouth, but I know they were released at a high volume and probably included some verbal diarrhea that was not acceptable for my child in the backseat. I couldn't believe it. I watched the whole thing unfold before my eyes...that truck never even TRIED to move out of the way. He took it out. He blew up our Christmas tree and if I wasn't mistaken, I could have sworn the driver was a little green, fury guy whose heart was two sizes too small.

After the explosion, Sean ran from the car to gather the aftermath. I was picturing a few broken limbs, a handful of pine needles, and a proper burial. Even if we didn't safely bring home our tree that day, we were able to come away with a pretty amazing story. After all, our brave little Christmas tree didn't blow up in vain. In fact, we were able to bring it home in decent, albeit highly damaged shape. At least enough for decorating. It had suffered a huge gunshot wound on one side and many broken limbs displaying raw, freshly snapped edges and more than a handful of missing needles. But we loved it as if it was our own...because it was.

We lived in a house with a huge picture window in the front and we placed our tree on proud display for all passersby to witness the blessed event of the season. I secretly wished that yellow truck would drive by and see that yes, he had given our tree some battle wounds, but he hadn't blown up our Christmas spirit. Neither rain nor snow, nor grumpy husband, nor fallen tree, nor Grinch in a yellow truck driving over and blowing it up ever will.

Until next time. Mwah!


  1. Hi, Macey! Just wanted to stop by and check out your blog and say thanks again for contacting me.

    I absolutely LOVE Oh Holy Night - my favorite Christmas song ever. I get all teary-eyed whenever I hear it - so powerful.

    And oh my word - I know that your Christmas tree story isn't really funny - or at least I'm sure it wasn't at the time - but you still made me laugh! The nerve of that yellow truck!