Christmas: Tree and Traditions

I am a traditions girl. I’ve always held fast to them, but I’m learning to hold them a little more loosely…

Motherhood is a kind of thing in that you learn lessons you may have never wanted to learn,  but ultimately are so grateful to have learned. Being a parent I’ve learned to let loose a little… And to be more flexible. And while the traditions I’m sharing with you below are ones I hold very dear, one thing I know for certain is they will flex in the years to come. And sometimes the years that look different are the ones I know I will treasure most.

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

Then… with Cashel Rock age 3 months. And now… with Copeland Oread  age 3 1/2 months.

The photos tell the story. Tradition… Doing something year after year and building memories and stories as a family. For us it’s the little things. We started this tradition of cutting our Christmas tree in the Olympic National Forest the second year we were married, when we were implementing a serious budget. We abandoned all Christmas gifts and exchanged our expensive Christmas tree from a local lot for our five dollar Charlie Brown tree from the real Life forest. I wouldn’t change a thing. Every year we go up and make a meal over a camp stove or warm up some cocoa and cider and hunt for the “perfect” or in some peoples’ eyes a not so perfect tree. They aren’t groomed, they typically die before Christmas,  and usually it takes some serious effort to find and cut them. Like the year I was two weeks from giving birth to Corban and I hiked up the side of a mountain with the baby… well maybe he was a toddler… on my back  and two other small children in tow as my husband scouted out ahead of us. Did I mention it was snowing…? But boy oh boy do we have memories to match all these photos.  Like the year the Christmas tree was twice as long as our minivan and twice we had to cut several feet off the bottom to get it into our seriously vaulted living room. It even covered a doorway that year…

This little sweater is a hand-me-down from a dear friend, who also often participates in our tree tradition. Any year I’ve had a kid who will fit into it it has gone with us to the mountain. The knit Santa hat is handmade from another friend who shared in this tradition as well. I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be much, but traditions are so special and for me make the holidays that much more significant.  The other tradition that started that same budgeting, read “Dave Ramsey,” year in our second year of marriage was that we don’t stuff each other’s stockings. At least not the adults. We write each other notes on slips of paper that on Christmas morning we read to each other and they turn into a paper chain. I think we missed one maybe two years in the last 10, but it is seriously special. We write short notes, share things we appreciate about each other, memories from the past year, and it turns into a very significant part of our Christmas morning.

Of course there are a slew of new traditions as our kids get older, but honestly the ones I hang onto are the ones they remember. I’m learning to let go of the ones that don’t matter quite as much so that we can enjoy the ones that matter the most. We’re focusing in on Advent, creating memories, and while it will still be a busy month we are working to not hustle quite as much. It’s all about the feeling we can produce, or rather preserve;  in this cozy, meaningful, beautiful season of our lives.

 

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