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Christmas Tree Traditions

13 Dec

I absolutely LOVE Christmas.  I love everything about it: the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, the scent of baking that lingers in my kitchen for over a month, the warmth of a fuzzy snowman-adorned blanket, the crisp air that stings your nose when you breathe in, the lights, the decor, AND the music.  Christmas makes me happy. The kind of happy that you felt as a kid as you waited for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve.  The kind of happy that you feel when you discover something new in a world of familiarity.  I feel just pure bliss when surrounded by snowflakes, snowmen, moose, reindeer, and Santa.

One of my favorite things during Christmas, is getting the Christmas tree put up and decorated.  I also love going to stores and other people’s homes to see how they decorate their trees.  I envy the Martha Stewart-types who put up beautifully trimmed trees with ribbons, sprigs of sea oats, beads, and white lights.  I ogle over the trees that look like they just jumped from the pages of “Southern Living” into someone’s random living room.  I lust after the trimmings and trappings of country-inspired decorum placed thoughtfully here and there.

But my tree is one of memory.  Each and every ornament on our tree is inspired and brings back memories.  We sit around the tree with Christmas music playing, sipping hot cocoa, while we unwrap each ornament individually, then guide the ornament to its temporary home on our tree.  We briefly talk about each ornament every single year, walking down memory lane as we trim.  We remember the person who gave it to us, and almost always the very specifics of the gift.  Our lights are multi-colored because white would not match the vibrant and eclectic personality of our tree.  I look forward to this walk down memory lane every year and it is a tradition I hope never fades.  I would love to have so many ornaments on our tree some day that each branch is weighed down with a memory.

Our favorite this year was an ornament given to my husband by the family dog as a Christmas gift last year.  It is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with a halo and angel wings.  “Farley” passed on to greener pastures and softer rugs this year, and the irony of the gift did not escape us as we had a laugh and then a moment of silence when the ornament was unwrapped.

Maybe some day we’ll have a house big enough to have an elegant tree and our tree of memories, but if given the choice I’d always choose our Christmas Memory Tree.  Unfortunately, in the haste of moving a few years ago most of my ornaments were lost.  I now live vicariously through my husband’s ornaments while I slowly rebuild my own collection.  The tradition is no less wonderful now, though.  I love hearing his stories and recollecting my favorite, now lost ornaments and their tales.

What are your Christmas tree traditions?  I’d love to hear about what goes into decorating your trees and maybe even see some pictures.

Freak the Freak Out

27 Nov

By FAR my most popular post so far. Glad it is being enjoyed and that I’m not the only parent who thinks that this song is highly inappropriate for the age group this show is targeted to.
I don’t know about you, but my 9 yr old, innocent son enjoys watching TV from time to time a lot.  His favorite shows are “Phineas and Ferb”, “The Wizards of Waverly Place”, “iCarly”, “Sonny With A Chance”, and “Victorious” among a couple of others.  Aside from Demi Lovato’s recent entry into a rehab program, I have had no problems with the stars in the shows that he watches.  We haven’t talked at all about Demi Lovato or what she went into rehab for, I’m not sure he even knows that she’s there.  I’m just glad that she’s getting help for her reported eating disorder and cutting problems, and I hope that she returns to the scene soon.

But (and this is a big BUT for me), just this week I have come into unfamiliar parental territory.  The show, “Victorious” aired a one-hour special entitled “Freak the Freak Out” named after a song that the show’s star, Victoria Justice, recently released.   I’m not at ALL impressed.  The song talks about how the object of Victoria’s affections (correction provided by apparent co-writer of the song) Victoria’s PARENTS don’t listen to her and she’s sick and tired of it.  Lyrics (from second stanza) are as follows:

I’m so sick of it,
Your attention never stick
Never listen, You never listen.
I’m so sick of it,
So I’m throwing on a fit
Never listen, You never listen.
I scream, your name,
It always stays the same.
I scream, and shout,
So what I’m gonna do now
Is freak the freak out, Hey!

I could be wrong but I believe that the target audience for this show is somewhere between 8 and 12, and my son listens to the music sung by stars of various Disney & Nickelodeon shows on his MP3 player.  It is my professional parental opinion that this song is exceedingly inappropriate for this target age.  Freak the freak out?  At your PARENTS?  Really, Nickelodeon?  You  might as well have just said “Freak the F#ck Out”.  This is NOT a phrase I’d like for my 9 yr old to be repeating at school OR at home.  Argue with me on the target age if you want to, but I guarantee you not many high schoolers are watching this show (I wouldn’t have).

I realize that I am his parent and I have the authority to tell him whether or not he can watch a show or listen to certain music but I don’t feel like I should have to be music police for a 9 yr old while he is watching a network that I trust to deliver age appropriate content.  What is appropriate for this age?  I think I should be able to trust Nickelodeon and Disney to deliver (relatively) wholesome and fun music for my kids to listen to.  I’m OK with songs about love, feelings, and growing up, but directing these sorts of emotions (and phrases) in a song for elementary and middle schoolers is just out of line.  Growing up can be really difficult to do and I know that teenage angst seems to come younger and younger as the decades crawl onward.  It’s difficult for these “big kids” or “young adults” to communicate appropriately as it is, why are we teaching them to “freak the freak out” or “scream and shout” to get someone’s attention?  Are they going to be able to differentiate between peer relationships and parental relationships and what’s appropriate in each?  I don’t think that it’s appropriate or necessary to “scream and shout” in ANY relationship, but this song is clearly supporting doing just that if someone isn’t listening to you.  I don’t know what I expect, songs about respect?  I mean why not?  Sing it, Aretha!  This “Freak the Freak Out” song is super catchy so it’s hard not to nod your head a little and remember the lyrics upon listening to it only a few times.  So now I have a 9 yr old walking around talking about “freaking the freak out” and I really don’t know how to handle it.

What do I do?  Tell him to turn the TV off every time the song comes on?  Forbid him from watching “Victorious” or even worse, Nickelodeon?  Am I being too overprotective?  How many of you parents out there think that the phrase, “Freak the freak out” is inappropriate for a 9 yr old to be saying, or even exposed to for that matter?

If you’d like to check the song out, please listen.  And after you’ve listened, I’d love some input and friendly debate.  What do you think?  Do you think this is appropriate for your children?  For your future children (if you don’t have any)?  All witty quips welcome.

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