Thursday night, Derrick and I picked up our second annual live Christmas tree, which is no small feat for two people living in Florida. (It's a strange sensation picking out a tree while simultaneously being devoured by mosquitos.)
Also not a small feat: two very strong-willed people coming together to decorate a live Christmas tree.
Now, not only are Derrick and I two very strong-willed people, we're also two very strong-willed people with very different views on proper tree decorating. Let's just say that Derrick was not pleased when he turned his back and found my hedgehog ornament on top of the tree where the star apparently belongs. ("This is where I draw the line, Nicole.")
But despite our obvious differences in opinion on proper tree etiquette, we did have a good time hanging the bulbs and tying the ties with Justin Bieber's holiday mix in the background.
The best part of the evening, though, was Derrick's face when I told him that we should get ourselves an Advent calendar.
Now, I attended a Catholic school from kindergarten through my senior year of high school, so to me, an Advent calendar is about the same as eggnog in terms of familiarity. To Derrick, however, the idea was as foreign as... well, a hedgehog atop our tree.
I tried to explain the tradition of the Advent calendar, but I think the only thing he really got out of it was little holiday-themed chocolates. (Which, I guess to be fair, is often the most important part of any story that involves little holiday-themed chocolates.)
But once I got going on Advent calendars, I couldn't stop. What other seemingly run-of-the-mill Christmas traditions did Derrick not know about? I mean, the man lived in a world without Advent calendars and Christmas pickles before I came along—who knew what else he was missing out on.
Which leads me to this: 6 Christmas things all Catholic school kids will definitely understand.
1. Advent calendars. As discussed above. If you went to a Catholic school, you know the joy of opening that little cardboard door every December morning. Who cares if the chocolate inside tasted a little bit like glue? Each little gluey chocolate was one gluey chocolate closer to the big day.
2. Advent wreaths. No one is as pumped about lighting a candle as a kid who went to a Catholic school. And especially the pink one—the signal to kids across the world that we're sliding into the home stretch.
3. Homemade nativity scenes. Because all Catholic kids know that there is no more proper way to welcome the birth of Jesus than with a toilet paper roll replica of the scene.
4. Nativity plays. Similar to homemade replicas of the nativity scene, Christmas is just not Christmas until your elementary school-aged self has reenacted Jesus's birth. I personally never landed the coveted role of Mary, but one year in second grade I did wow the masses with my performance as the Christmas martian.
5. Christmas socks. Out-of-uniform days are not so much a rare treat to a Catholic school kid as they are a spectacle of sorts. It's the red carpet of elementary school, the three or four days a year when you have the chance to prove just how trendy you and your glitter jeans actually are. And while you might not always get an out-of-uniform day for Christmas, you will certainly get at least a Christmas sock day. And never is your sock game more critical than on this day.
6. Midnight masses. When I told Derrick about this one, he was positive I was playing games with his head. But, seriously, if you're going to do Christmas Eve as a Catholic, you're going to do it hard.
Happy Monday, everyone!
It's the most wonderful time of the year, after all.