Category Archives: Countdown to Christmas

C2C: The Decking Out of the Tree

I will probably never have a magazine picture-worthy Christmas tree.  I just won’t and that’s okay because my tree is a tall, green memory.

When we were little, my mom would take us to the after Christmas sales and let each of us pick out a new ornament.  “Someday,” she’d say, “when you leave our house, you’ll take your box of ornaments with you and you’ll have something with which to decorate your own tree.”

Flash forward a couple decades and one old musty banker’s box sitting on the floor [For this is how most Christmas decorations are stored in the Poole house … numbered banker’s boxes that correspond to 3×5 index cards listing the contents … which might have something to do with my obsessive-compulsive organization tendencies … a post for another time … I digress … seriously … hey, is that a goldfish?] and the tree is decked in front of me.

There are small wooden hand-painted ornaments from early childhood (some picked out before I was born).  

My “baby’s first Christmas” globe.

Ornaments that remind me of all that is good (the Marshall Field’s Chicago clock, in case you can’t see it):

And now my own children’s firsts:

The thing I love the best about this tradition is that it’s a “pass me down and hand me off to the next generation” kind of a tradition (as many are, but there are some “blog about it sheepishly and hope it never comes up in conversation ever again” traditions like not having a Christmas tree for Christmas…I’m just sayin’ …).

What holiday decoration do you hope to pass on to your kids?

Another Stone, Another Memory

“…When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them …” Joshua 4:6 

Never tell God what you are and are not willing to do.

In the Christmas season of 2008, I told God that I (in no uncertain terms) would be happy to birth the baby boy I carried ANY day except for Sunday, December 7th. My husband had a rather large Christmas concert scheduled for that day and was taking a rather large portion in it (conducting, soloing, etc, etc) … ie: the kind of thing at which he might be missed if he happened to be at the hospital instead.

December 7, 2008
12:07 AM: I looked at the glowing digits on my clock beside the bed. Really? Only midnight? Sighing, I decided that now was as good as any time to get up for one of what would undoubtedly be a hundred or so runs to the bathroom this night.  As I stood up, I felt the now familiar tightening. Labor?! Are you kidding me, God? We talked about this!  Maybe it’s false labor, early labor … something other than having-my-baby-today labor!

3:00 PM: Apparently this labor wasn’t false. However, it was slow, and knowing that there was much to do for the concert that night, I dressed in my holiday finest, and went to the church.

Sometime after 8:00 PM: Okay, now labor wasn’t quite so slow. The sounds of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” wafted faintly into the library from the sanctuary – the final piece to this concert … It was done and it had been good. Thank you, God.

8:45 PM: Begging my husband to both drive faster and NOT hit every bump in the road.  

9:00 PM: The charge nurse’s face in my vision: “Honey, if I sit you up to give you the epidural, the baby’s going to come out! You can do it! Just don’t push yet! The doctor is on his way.”

9:24 PM: A son is born. He is beautiful.   

Dear Son, This is just one of many crazy and beautiful stories of God’s love for us/you that we will rehearse with you as you age. 
Happy Second Birthday!  Love, Mom

C2C: The Gift Label Tradition

Because it’s the first day of December, and because [in the great tradition of Ree Drummond] it’s Wednesday and we love you all, I give you …

The Countdown to Christmas! ..C2C. Numbers in descending order to the “Big Day”, etc, etc …

We’ll be coming to you from now through December 24th with random memories, anecdotes, and yes, even family recipes from the holiday seasons of our growing up years. [way back in the dark ages of the ’80s]

So, sit back, grab a hot cocoa or peppermint mocha, and enjoy!

Today’s treat is a tradition from the Poole family archives.  Disclaimer: this was cooked up in the brain of one Ed Poole (my esteemed father).  


We all know how it’s done …

To: So-and-so [insert name of someone “worthy” of a gift in your life]

From: Me [insert your name; the super cool gift-bestower]


And yet, in the Poole household (to this very day), we tamper with this most traditional of traditions!

Oh, we still put the name of the recipient in it’s proper place, but the “From” category is where the wheels come off the wagon … or, as we choose to see it, the genius begins. :)

Every gift under our Christmas tree comes from a random person in history or pop culture. Why? Simply because we can! …and who wouldn’t want to get a Christmas present from Matt Damon? I mean, seriously!

There are recurring favorites (speaking of Mr. Damon…) such as Jason Bourne, the president, Harrison Ford, and (only since Bob has joined our family) Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

It has now escalated to such a level that the giver name(s) is actually a clue as to the nature of the gift [picture my dad hunched over Google for hours while wrapping gifts].

What does this look like? Old Navy items always have a naval theme … I once got an ON gift card from Gilbert and Sullivan (side: just got “He Is An Englishman!” stuck in my head for the rest of the day), and I think I also got a sweater one year from Com. Oliver Hazard Perry.

DVDs have a celebrity theme (see above reference to Matt Damon), and other than those two predictable categories, pretty much everything and everyone is fair game as long as it aligns with the subject of the gift. I believe my husband even received a gift from the Fed chair last year.

Opening presents like this often comes with announcements of context (as well as the occasional history lesson), lots of laughter, and of course, my father’s voice above the clammer “Agh! From Sylvester Stallone? I knew he’d come through for me this year!”

And with that, I’ll close …

Time to go start the 2010 research. I don’t think anybody’s received something from Ulysses S. Grant in a while …