Day 13) M is for Merry Christmas: Choose a Christmas themed book you have to read every year
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
As you know I have loved to read since an early age
And one book I have been reading since a child, and every year around the holidays is How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
I know I have gone on and on about this book in the past, so I’m sure you think that the post will be done quickly, with just these few words…
You all know how obsessed I was with the book; from watching the animated film:
To the live action film:
To eating boxes of cereal to send away enough proofs of purchase to get a Grinch keychain.
But why am I obsessed with it?
The reason why I love this story, read it over and over; is that I just can not get enough of the message behind it.
The moral of the Grinch is that all can be touched by the true spirit of Christmas. Christmas is more than ribbons, tags, packages, boxes or bags. It is more than the presents, trees, the dinner you feast on, candy, etc. It is about love:
And that love surpasses all and can change any old Scrooge or Grinch into a better person.
I have also just discovered that December 25th marks the 60th anniversary of this story. Happy Anniversary Grinch pal!
Yesterday I went to a Christmas party, and everyone there was saying how wonderful Christmas is. There is just something so special about it, how it can truly change attitudes from the miserly Scrooges and grumpy Grinches to love, compassion, giving, etc. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year, just like today’s Christmas Carol says.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year was written in 1963 and first performed by Andy Williams, being covered many times by others. It was also named by Billboard as one of the top 10 holiday songs. I know I love it!
So I already did a post on the opening line of Sense and Sensibility, you should go here if you want to check that out. So Sense and Sensibility is far different from Pride & Prejudice. In Pride & Prejudice we have a basic introduction to the family-5 daughters, and their mother’s need to marry them off.
Sense and Sensibility is a little different.
We get a big family entanglement of who’s who in the family and who’s inheriting. It can be a bit much.
And in this case it’s the same. But the one in question here is Norland Park, belonging to Mr. Dashwood.
Now Mr. Dashwood was a confirmed bachleor, and shared his house with his sister who managed everything for him. Both of them grew older, and Miss Dashwood died. Mr. Dashwood found himself alone and didn’t enjoy it. So he decided to invite his nephew, Mr. Henry Dashwood.
Now Henry is where things become a bit more complicated. Henry has two families.
Now I don’t mean that he was married to two women at the same time, this isn’t Sister Wives. And he wasn’t a conman either. He was a widower who remarried. This might not sound too complicated right now (I mean with how high the divorce rates are today, things are far more complicated,) but it does cause some legal issues I’ll get into later.)
So we have Mr. Dashwood’s first family. This includes his son John, horrible daughter-in-law Fanny,
and awful grandson.
I hate these people. Absolutely HATE THEM.
But more on that later.
And his second family consists of the new Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret.
So here we are.
John being older and married was the one that didn’t move into the family homestead. But he and his family visited all the time. The three girls however, joined Old Mr. Dashwood. They take good care of him and greatly amuse him in his old age.
Only one problem.
One thing my drama director always told us:
“Never work with kids or animals. They’ll steal the show.”
It’s true. Kids and animals are too cute, and they don’t even try. They’ll do something that will cause all others to be overlooked.
And here it’s no different.
Yes, the little spoiled brat steals away all the love of his grandfather.
“…this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained the affections of his uncle. by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old, an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters.”
Yep, just another case of those who slaved and cared being pushed aside for something “cuter”.
So the old Mr. Dashwood dies. And leaves things unpleasant. He entails all his money and estate to his grandnephew.
Replace Rothbart with entailment
Entailment was something that was done a lot in the 18th-20th centuries. All the money, property, the whole shebang was entailed to the next male heir. So this is good and bad. It means that Henry will have everything, but only for as long as he is alive. When he dies it will be passed on to John, and then to the kid. This means that the female Dashwoods will receive nothing. The old Mr. Dashwood gave them £1000, but that won’t be near enough for them to marry well.
So I’m sure you are wondering about Mr. Henry Dashwood. I mean he doesn’t have to entail his personal money. Or Mrs. Dashwood’s money. Right?
Well you’re half-right. He wouldn’t have to ifhe had any. Yep, you see Mr. Dashwood has no money.
He had status and married wealthy. His first wife had a fortune!
Unfortunately, she died.
And left all her money to her only child, John.
When he remarries it’s for love and his second wife is poor. They have only £7000. (I’m not sure if that’s a year or what, but it’s not enough for taking care of his family long-term).
And then he hopes to get the inheritance, but winds up with basically nothing.
To rub salt further in the wound, John doesn’t even need the money. You see John not only has all that dough from his mom, but when he married he increased his net worth tenfold.
Yep, he’s rolling in dough.
So the Dashwoods got the shaft.
But then Henry decides maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. He is not an old man, he’s still has plenty of years left in him and he could start setting money aside to take care of his family. After all it’s not like he is going to die any day.
So I don’t know about you all but my family actually cuts down our Christmas Tree. We always go the day after Thanksgiving to the black friday sales, and then a few hours to the forest to cut down our tree.
Now some of you may wonder why we would go through so much trouble? Why not buy a fake one? Well I’ll tell you why:
1) The permit to cut down a tree only costs $10. That means you can get as big a tree you want for only ten bucks! For instance we got a 12 foot tree for 5% of the cost of buying one from a lot.
2) Cutting down your Christmas tree is very good for the environment.
I know many of you have just read that and are probably saying to yourselves this girl is stupid, but just hear me out. You see trees grow in clumps and while that is a great thing as they share resources, protect each other, pollinate each other, etc. However, at times this can be bad. Sometimes trees grow too close together that they are unable to get their share. Often times one, or all, the trees will die as there isn’t enough to go around. Cutting down your own Christmas tree from one of the clumps means that one side might be a little thinner (you just aim that side in the corner) and it helps the other trees grow big and strong. Also periodically clearing out sections of trees protects them in the summer when there are threats of forest fires. And of course, this cutting isn’t a free for all. You can only cut from certain sections, therefore protecting a wider majority of trees. You also have restrictions on the tree size. Your trunk can only have a diameter of 6 inches and there is a restriction of high the stump can be. These regulations keep older trees protected, along with making sure people are not cutting off the tops and leaving the rest of the tree.
That’s a lot!
3) Cutting your own tree means that it will last longer. You see one of the biggest problems with tree lots is that these trees are cut at the end of November, shipped over to the city they will be sold, and hanging around on pavement until they are sold. They are not getting the same TLC or water and a lot of them die really early, shedding tons of pine needles along the way. Now when you cut your own tree, it is nice and fresh and lasts much, much longer. As I said we always get our tree at the end of November and take it down at the end of January. We could keep it up longer, but usually by February we are packing up our Christmas stuff. Besides longevity, it also smells absolutely wonderful.
And with cutting down your tree there are always adventures. Three years ago I went with my parents and we brought my two nieces, my nephew, and our dog. We hiked all over the area in the snow looking for the perfect tree.
We finally found it and my dad cut it down using a manpowered saw rather than a chainsaw. I tried to help him but it was hard work and both of us were pooped. He was really tired so I had him rest and had to carry that tree on my own. Let me say, I’m never doing that again. It was sooo heavy! I don’t know how I was able to carry it even for a minute.
After my dad’s rest we finished moving the tree to the truck. After that I had to carry the three kids as the snow embankments had grown larger, and they wouldn’t be able to make it out. Yep, every time I feel like something is too hard, difficult, or heavy, I just remind myself that I carried a tree down a mountainside. I rule!
And this year wasn’t any duller. There was no snow as we’ve been suffering some strong dry spells, but we still had a lot of fun hiking up and down the mountainside for that perfect tree. When we found it we cut it down (using a chainsaw this time) and started to head down the mountainside. Now, we’ve been doing this since I was like 13, but this year something happened that had never happened before.
As we started down the hill trying to bring the tree to the truck, my dad yelled at us to turn the tree as he wanted the weaker side pointed to the ground as that side was to lay in the flatbed. As we turned the tree, BAM! SMACK!
The tree branches kept smacking me in the face. And when I mean kept, I meant it didn’t stop. I guess it was the section of the tree I was in, but I couldn’t see a thing, just branches and branches smacking me in the face.
I felt as if it was like in The Wizard of Oz when the trees come to life and start smacking Dorothy.
It was almost like it was mad at me for me cutting it down.
When we got home we got it out of the truck and was taking it into the house and had to turn the tree again. Now this time I had stood on the opposite side of the tree, hoping that would keep it from hitting me, but now once again tree slap.
Hair everywhere, I can’t see a thing, I’m afraid my glasses might get knocked off and go flying, and I am praying so hard that I do not fall in our pool.
Luckily we get it in the stand and straighten it out. And boy does it look lovely. It kind of makes up for the abuse it gave me.
Now my abuse from the tree branches doesn’t end there. Oh, no! You see after I graduated and interned this summer; I moved back home. I’ve been trying to find a job, but this is pretty much what it is like.
So to fill the time until I am hopefully hired, I am volunteering at quite a few places. One of which is my local museum. So last week I headed down there as it was my turn to work the desk. I brought with me some pine clippings from our tree as the museum was decorating for Christmas. Well it turned out that they didn’t have as many volunteers as they hoped, so they asked me to help with the decorating. I thought okay, it will be fun.
So I thought decorating meant we were going to hang ornaments on the tree.
We were making these giant wreaths.
So I was paired with one of the volunteers and let me just stop and share something with you. Most of the volunteers at the museum are older, like 60+. So the woman I had wasn’t the most helpful. You see you take branches of the tree and put them on a plastic doughnut, tying them down with string or wire as you go along. Adding more and more branches until it is filled. However, that’s not what happened here. My helper laid tons of branches down and then sat down as she couldn’t tie them on. I tried to tie the branches down, but the wreath slipped and they all went crashing to the floor.
Yep, I had to do everything over, but this time I did it right. As I continued, more people came and helped out which was nice. It was a really hard process though as it had rained for the past three days, and all their tree clippings were soaked, making the already hard job of trying to tie them down even harder!
Replace Rothbart with wreath
Finally we had completed it and I was tired. It’s a lot of bending over and being pricked/stabbed by the wire and tree branches. I sat down for a bit but then had to move on to making garland.
OMG it was so hard. You have a piece of rope and have to twist tie the branch to the rope. Yep, those flimsy little twisty ties. IT TAKES FOREVER! You keep placing branches over and over each other to make it fuller and until you cover the rope. This is extremely hard. At times I was trying to use one of those flimsy things to tie three branches together! And because a lot of people had to leave, I had to do it all on my own. By one fourth of the way I wanted to burn the thing.
We had a time limit to this as at noon the county was sending over free labor and the right machine to hang this things high up on the walls. So when every team completed theirs and saw I wasn’t even at the halfway point they all descended on me to help out.
Now you think this would have been nice, and it would have if it was one or two, but there were like five trying to take over the tying or telling me what to do. It made me feel kind of surly:
But I just kept to myself, trying to be professional.
After that my shift was over and I headed home, bearing more battle wounds that those brought on by the slapping tree. My hands were covered in cuts and they hurt sooo bad, my back was aching from bending over, my feet were sore from standing, etc. But hey beauty is pain, and the place sure did look amazing!