Every year, the first Friday in December is THE day my family treks out to find our Christmas tree. My husband and I hinted a couple years ago that it would be much easier to invest in one of the almost-real-looking (but still artificial) trees available these days. Oh, my, you should have seen the glares, heard the cries, endured the criticism! Nope! Nothing but a fresh-cut tree for this family! And so, as long as we have them available to us, this will be our Family Tradition.
Dad and the children venture out to a nearby tree farm, tromp over the grounds in search of the perfect tree. They have it down to a science – it must be ‘so high’ and ‘so wide’ in order to fill the large open space between our living room and dining room just right, but not too high or too wide, because from experience we know what happens when we have too much tree. They measure and cut and load and haul ‘er home.
In the meantime, Mom clears the way, preparing for the Trimming of the Tree, working all the while to my favorite Christmas music. Once I have the tree-stand in place and the excess furniture and decor packed away and the green water ready to give the tree a drink, I heat the kettle knowing my crew will want their hot chocolate as soon as the tree is up.
We must follow the steps in proper order, I’m told. Bring up the Christmas boxes – already? Yes, Mom. Before we get the tree? Yes, Mom. That’s what we always do. How is it that I did not know this was tradition? I suppose it’s because my darling children have taken over much of the holiday prepping in our home. Or because I just want it up and done and I don’t really care in what order we do things!
And so once the tree is up and stabilized and watered, this is the proper order: lights, kids’ ornaments, the dove (instead of a star, representing God’s Love for us), mom & dad’s ornaments, vacation ornaments, all the rest. The tree skirt, then the gifts in our pre-made gift bags and then the making of the popcorn/cranberry chain (while watching some classic Christmas move like White Christmas or Elf or It’s a Wonderful LIfe).
I really enjoy the time we spend together sharing, again, the stories that accompany our ornaments. We’ve given each of our children an ornament almost every year so they will have a collection to take with them when they have a home of their own. It’s practical, but it is also a way of sending a bit of their family history with them. Our adult children now can share their Christmas memories with their spouses and children while they are making new memories of their own. Each person has their own collection housed in their own personal box and they have the privilege of adding them to the tree themselves. “oh, remember this one?” “Yes, but this one is my favorite!” “Oh, so sad, this little piece has broken, but that’s ok, I still remember when I opened it.” The kids love to do the math and count up how many years it’s been since . . . whatever.
We have a lot of fun with it all. The kids never seem to grow out of the silliness that often accompanies the whole procedure. Like hanging the ugliest, gaudiest, sure-to-set-mom-off ornament smack-dab-front-and-center, know full well it will be moved to the back once everyone has gone their own way. Or playing Hide-n-Seek with the Christmas Spider where a little beaded spider is hidden amongst the branches and then hidden again by the one who finds him.
My very favorite ornaments of all are those that we’ve had the longest. 29 years ago, Mike and I celebrated our very first Christmas together as man and wife knowing the business he worked for was be closing in only a few days. We had a simple but wonderful Christmas that year, even though our tree was a little cedar cut from a friend’s farm and the ornaments were fashioned from pipe cleaners and twisty-ties and our stockings were sewn together from fabric scraps. We still display these simple treasures full of memories, and share our story with the children, reminding them that all the glitter and wrappings are not what make this holiday special. We talk of the love we have for one another and the love God has for us how thankful we are for the family He’s blessed us with and of how He sent us sons and daughters and that He sent His Own Son for us.
Does your family have a grand tree trimming party? or a quiet family affair? What traditions do you have each year when it comes to putting up the tree?
We are sharing Family Traditions of all types throughout the month of December. Click on the image above to see other posts on this topic.
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