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I love Christmastime. It’s one of my favorite times of the whole year. Christmas reminds me so much of my late father. He truly loved Christmas, making our house look festive & cheerful, & having friends & family gather around to celebrate together. Christmas was my dad’s most favorite time of year to get our whole family together: grandparents, parents, brothers & sisters, cousins, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, even in-laws. My dad loved having a house overflowing with happy people celebrating & sharing in the joys of family togetherness. Plus, my dad loved spoiling his loved ones with plenty of food, drinks, & gifts for all the little kiddos scampering around the house. That’s probably where I developed my love of giving to others & taking care of others…learning from my dad’s selfless generosity.

Each year at Christmastime, my dad loved having the house decorated, looking colorful & festive. My mom loved it too, but she always dreaded having to put away all of the decorations after the holidays were over. (Who doesn’t dread the massive holiday clean-up?) I also loved decorating the house for Christmas, but my all-time favorite was decorating the Christmas tree. The tree was always the main attraction at our house, & it still is, which brings me to the next topic in my 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal.

One of my favorite childhood holiday memories was when I was in my teenage years, & my dad would make a big fuss over decorating the house for Christmas. He would load up our family (usually myself, my mom, my dad, & whichever cousin was boarding at our house at that given time) into his minivan, & we would drive to the wholesale flower market in San Francisco. Back then you didn’t need a wholesaler’s/decorator’s license to shop there (unless you wanted to get a discount on bulk items).  There were a few decorating supply warehouses that would be packed to the gills with every Christmas decoration & novelty item you could possibly think of.

My dad loved taking us to these shops during the holidays, so we could all pick out new ornaments for our tree & decorations to liven the house. There were a couple of Christmas holidays where we would buy entirely new sets of tree ornaments to create a different theme/color-scheme each year. One time we decorated the whole tree in plastic, metallic musical instruments (i.e. trumpets, saxophones, drums, guitars, etc.) & music notes. My cousin & I had a fun time decorating the tree in all of these wacky ornaments. The next year, my mom chose the theme of our Christmas tree, & she decorated the tree in a pastel Victorian theme with lots of ribbons/bows, angels, plastic violins & harps, along with papier mâché hearts.

Picking out tree ornaments was a big deal in our household. However, over the years, we stopped shopping for plastic ornaments at the wholesale flower market. We now prefer to pick & choose ornaments that are more durable/long-lasting, a higher quality, & have thoughtfulness & meaning. My parents are the super “bougie” kind of shoppers, & will only buy Christmas decorations (mainly tree ornaments & decorative candles) at places like BloomingdalesCrate and Barrel &/or William-Sonoma. As for myself, if I see a holiday tree ornament that I like, I will spend an unnecessary amount of time, pacing back & forth mulling over whether or not I will get it. Then, after a lot of complaining from Jian, & a lot more internal back-&-forth thoughts in my mind, I will end up buying said ornament.

I’m not quite sure exactly how many Christmas tree ornaments we actually have. I haven’t counted them all, but I can safely estimate that we have a crap load amount. I had to buy three jumbo sized ornament storage containers from The Container Store, & with my super amazing organization & compartmentalization skills, I’m pretty sure I’ve been able to fill each box with triple its designated capacity. Organizing & compartmentalizing (to the point where I often forget where I’ve stored things) is probably my biggest & proudest skill to date.

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an example of the storage containers we use for Christmas decorations

Since my dad’s passing, I’ve taken it upon myself to head up the Christmas decorating department. My dad always loved to shop for Christmas gifts & decorations around this big holiday season, & I suppose this trait has very much rubbed off onto me. I also love to give gifts & shop for Christmas decorations…mainly tree ornaments. It is a fun tradition that keeps me forever linked to the memory of my dad during the most festive & cheerful time of the year.

Oh, & just a little side note… our Christmas tree is fake. Yes, it’s a plastic fantastic (& metal) contraption that we have to make a big to-do about each year, but we love it nonetheless. It’s always a pain to set-up & take down our tree, but it’s just one way we’re doing our part as a family to conserve environmentally. Well, to be honest, we mainly decided to switch to a faux tree because my dad & I are both severely allergic to pine trees (especially freshly cut ones with tree sap & pine needles aplenty). My dad hated having to put the tree on a tree stand, which always made the tree crooked no matter how much adjusting we did, & that annoyed my mom, who liked everything in our home to look Architectural Digest Magazine-ready at all times, especially during the holidays when we hosted many parties. As for me, I hated always being delegated to keep the water tray on the tree stand full, which was an extremely difficult task for a child who was prone to spilling things & inadvertently making messes everywhere. Let’s just end this part by saying I got more water outside of the tray than inside, & that got me in trouble with my mom more often than not.

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our now famous Xmas tree

I love keeping my dad’s tradition alive every year by adding something new to our overly-decorated Christmas tree. Both my mom AND Jian think I go overboard on decorating our tree each year, but I think it’s quite lovely & definitely necessary. Our annual Christmas tree is an absolute statement piece whenever someone  new walks into our home, or during the time when we host our annual Christmas party extravaganza. Yes, it’s a huge pain in the ass to carefully pack away all of the decorations at the end of the year, but it is all worthwhile as long as I get to keep my dad’s memory & tradition going for all of the family to enjoy together. We’ll just have to wait & see how our tree will be decorated this year. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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Christmas banner 2017

Today’s song of the day:

December is one of the months in the calendar that brings up mixed feelings for me. I love the winter season. I love decorating the house for Christmas. I love the festive holiday cheer. However, I don’t like that it’s already the end of the year, & you’re left wondering where all that time has gone. The year has passed too quickly. I don’t want to say that I can feel my life flashing before my own eyes, but I do feel it. It’s all going by in a tidal wave of a rush.

Right now I don’t want to think about all of that. I want to focus on the awesomeness that is this winter holiday season. I am so proud of myself that yet again, I was able to assemble our faux Christmas tree all by myself. We’ve had our fake tree for nearly 20 years, & I must say that it has been money well spent, & our family has definitely put this tree to good use. My dad & I have always been allergic to the pine needles, pollen, & sap from real trees, so my dad decided to invest in a high-quality (& expensive) faux Christmas tree. Plus, my dad always hated trudging to the tree lot to find some scrawny tree with half the needles already shedding, then trying haphazardly to secure the tree to the roof of our family car. The one part that my dad hated the most was having to affix the tree stand to the trunk of the tree & trying to get it to look somewhat straight (or at least close enough to my mom’s standards). Then, having to remember to water the tree daily & sweeping the constantly shedding needles. It was super annoying & a major hassle…not to mention that my severe allergies would kick in the moment my dad hauled the tree inside the house. It was just easier (& better for the environment) for my dad to invest in a faux tree.

I love our fake Christmas tree. It’s sometimes tedious to assemble due to all of the components, but to me it’s well worth it when you see the finished results with all of the lights strung up & ornaments hung with care. I absolutely enjoy putting our ever- growing collection of ornaments on our tree, but the one part I dislike the most & often try to avoid is stringing the lights on the tree. I just don’t know how to string the lights on the tree evenly, & I’m constantly getting the direction of the strings mixed up, so the “male” & “female” plugs don’t match up. It’s so frustrating to me, so I usually get my mom’s help (& rely on her skilled artistic direction) to string up the tree lights. Then, I’m all set to hang up the ornaments.

Every year, per my dad’s annual tradition, I try to get at least one or two (sometimes 6 or more) new ornaments to add to our already over-crowded tree. I so very much enjoy shopping for new Christmas ornaments. It’s become such a major part of our family’s Christmas traditions that I’ve even managed to rope Jian in on all the fun. He enjoys helping me shop for new decorations to add to our tree. This year, I didn’t really see any special ornaments that caught my eye, but Jian was able to find a set of minimalist ornaments at Target that match our tree. He helped me hang the ornaments on the tree, & we were successfully able to get the tree fully decorated within a few short hours. I turned on my Punk/Ska/Alt-Rock Christmas playlist for Spotify, & we found our groove & had the tree decorated in less time than I had anticipated. I am quite pleased with the results this year.

We don’t really stick to one theme or color scheme on our tree other than”the more colors, the merrier”. I am always on the hunt for fun, unique, & yet practical ornaments that display a special reference/meaning to a family member. For example, I got 3 different Buddha ornaments to represent my mom’s belief in Buddhism. I picked out a beer glass for Jian because at one phase in his life he was super into discovering various craft beers. Also just for fun, we got an ornament shaped like a tin of caviar in honor of my sister (for her love of fish egg condiments, & her tendency of being extra & bougie). My mom picked out a strawberry because my nephew & youngest niece love eating strawberries & could probably inhale one pound of strawberries in one sitting (if their mom let them). I also snuck in one rabbit ornament & one fox ornament because I just had to incorporate some sort of vague reference to this blog, but also because those are two of my favorite woodland animals. Those are just a few examples of the ornaments on our Christmas tree.

I can’t wait to see the looks on the faces of our friends & family when they see our tree this year. It’s going to be so festive & fun. Until then, cheers everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

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