Christmas Trees and Traditions

Christmas Trees and Traditions.

I shared with you in this post that this was our first year traveling to a Christmas Tree Farm to choose our tree.

Our family tradition has always been to pick out a tree together as a family. Big Mr. heads off to college next year and the other two teens won’t be far behind. As the nest empties, some traditions may remain the same, but others will fall away, and during the process, new traditions will be created.

I cherish these moments because I know they are finite and I can see the finish line on a horizon that is not too distant.

I shared that quite a few of the ornaments that we hang from our tree hold a special place in our memories andΒ promised to share a few of the ornaments we hold dear. Last year I wrote about one our most special ornaments, the one placed first upon the tree.. the Christmas Nail. You can find that post here. I thought I’d share a few more precious ornaments.

And what better time to do that than the week before Christmas?

The Grinch.

The Grinch is one of my favorite characters. My first Christmas with the hubby, I found this stuffed Grinch at a Hallmark store. We didn’t have many ornaments and we definitely didn’t have a tree topper. I decided to remedy that by placing the Grinch beside the crown of the tree and wrapping his arm around. The following year, he would lose that place of honor when I found an angel to place on the top. However, he has always held a prominent spot on the tree.

In the beginning, his remaining on the tree instead of a shelf was so that babies and toddlers wouldn’t lick him or eat him or spit up on him. I treasured him and didn’t want him ruined. As time went on, that space on the tree just became his home and our tree wouldn’t be the same without him.

MOPS ornament.

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. As a stay-at-home mom, this organization was a tremendous sanity saver.

That time in my life was my first journey into pressing outside of my comfort zones. The meetings followed the school year, September through May. I started attending when Big Mr was 2 and Mr D was 6 months. Miss Sunshine was born toward the end of 2003 and when that season of MOPS came to an end, I was asked to be on the steering committee.

To accept was well outside of my comfort zone, but I did. I worked in hospitality that year. We handled the organization of the buffet brunch. We kept fresh coffee flowing. When I accepted the position, I did not know the woman with whom I’d be sharing the job. We discovered that we lived on the same street. We became the best of friends and even took some family vacations together. We remain friends to this day.

She gave me that ornament to remember our time together in MOPS. I thought it was such a perfect theme for that year and still applies to my life today…”growing a life that matters”.

Photos with Santa.

Our tree wouldn’t be complete without our series of photos with Santa. I started with Big Mr.’s first Christmas in 2000 and we have them up until we moved away from Naples.

I chose to share this one from 2004 because this was the year Miss Sunshine didn’t like Santa. The boys never had an issue with him. In 2004, she’s almost 14 months old and she did not want to be near Santa in his chair. I am reminded of the one photo my mother has of me with Santa. I am close to Miss Sunshine’s age and am crying to get away from this scary person. Miss Sunshine wasn’t hysterical, just leery. It was his idea to sit on the floor since she didn’t mind being in the chair with her brothers. I thought that was awfully kind of him.

Countdown to Christmas.

This is our official “count off the days” ornament. I wish that it counted down, but his belt buckle twists from 1 to 25. We used to have a wall hanging that you changed the tabs each day, but one of the dogs ate it when she was a puppy. The kids used to take a turn each day being the person who got to twist to the new day. Another sign of time flying by is that Miss Sunshine solely has the job this year (and probably has for a few years).

1975 Bradford Novelty Ornament.

This is a plastic ornament with a plastic decal wrap around it. The other side has a boy and girl playing with toys. My grandmother used to have this ornament and I loved it. One day she gave it to me and it has been mine ever since. Truth be told, the other side was my favorite. However, when our Golden Retriever was a puppy, she took it off the tree to chew (2002 or 2003). I was devastated when I found it on the ground because I had owned it since I was a child. I was relieved to find that she hadn’t chewed the entire plastic wrap off, there are just a few gouges in it.

Now as I hang it on my tree, not only do I think of my grandmother who passed away in 2013, I also remember my first dog, Nikki, who we lost to cancer in 2015.

Painted Angel.

My tree wouldn’t be complete without the handmade ornaments created by my children. This painted and glitter-trimmed angel was a masterpiece created by Big Mr. when he was 4. There are decorations throughout the tree and about the house that have been created during all those early years.

Imagine peace…and love.

I don’t often add new ornaments to the tree. I made an exception our first Christmas living in Roanoke. We moved to Roanoke, Virginia in the summer of 2013. We closed on this house less than a week before Christmas. I’ve shared extensively that leaving my home state of Florida was very hard on me from a mental health standpoint.

That winter we spent a day in downtown Roanoke. While there, we visited the Taubman Museum of Art. I can still remember the first time I came to visit Roanoke. The hubby had already moved up here and started his job. I was coming up to hunt for a home. I drove past downtown and the architecture of this building had me like “Woah, what is THAT place!”. But back to the winter of 2013. Yoko Ono’s “Imagine Peace” was on exhibit and that was one of the exhibits that I wanted to see. After walking around the galleries, we popped into the gift shop. This decoupaged ornament called my name. I almost talked myself out of it, thinking I didn’t need any new ornaments.

In the end, I’m happy that I added it to our collection. I would walk through a hard winter that year and slowly emerge. It is still a conscious effort each winter to stay in that space where I don’t find myself drowning. But love is a tremendous aid in keeping me there. Each day my husband opens the blinds. When the skies spend days in gray, he will text reminders that the sun is peeking out and I should let it shine upon my face.

I am better at seeking those things I need… sunshine, fresh air, tall trees, evergreens…

…but love reminds me in the moments when I forget.

Other Traditions.

We have a few other traditions around Christmas as well. On Christmas Eve, I prepare hors d’oeuvres as our meal. It started when the children were young as a way to fit in our Christmas Eve traditions and still get them to bed at an early hour. From there, they asked about it the next year and a tradition was born. We have a variety of cheese and meats and crackers. There is also fruit, meatballs, and cocktail sausages. When you’re little, eating with a toothpick is something new and exciting. It stuck.

We also go to a candlelight Christmas Eve service. I pick from the variety offered in town. We don’t have a church that we consider home, but there are a couple that we like.

The kids began the tradition of watching Polar Express. Pausing happens right before the “Hot Chocolate” scene so that hot chocolate can be made and had along with the movie (…there’s only one rule…never, ever let it cool).

In the past, they’ve also always opened one present on Christmas Eve, a tradition that stems from my childhood.

Some of our traditions were brought from our childhoods and some were ones created by the children. It’ll be interesting to see which they carry into the future.

How about you? Do you have any holidays that you celebrate during December? Do you have traditions, new or old, that surround your holiday?

Let your light shine!


25 thoughts on “Christmas Trees and Traditions

  1. It’s always fun to read about other people’s Christmas traditions and compare them to your own. In the end, we all treasure the same things – family, home, getting together, small seemingly insignificant nods to the past.

    We live far from our home towns and it was hard in the early years to be away from the big family gatherings. It was pretty sad and lonely. Christmas Eve was always the hardest because both of our families celebrated on that day.
    When the boys were old enough to appreciate the distraction of a movie, we started to go to the theatre on Christmas Eve as something to do together. That inadvertently became one of our family traditions. The ‘boys’ are 31 and 29 now, and the family continues to grow with ‘adoptees’ who join us each year. This year there will be 8 of us trekking off to the theatre on Christmas Eve to see a movie together. It makes me laugh that these adult children would still want to continue doing that πŸ™‚

    1. I enjoy reading about other people’s traditions. Sometimes you also get ideas that you’d like to incorporate as your own.
      I lived in my hometown until my oldest was 8. I hosted my family for the Christmas Eve hors d’oeuvres and we’d go to my parent’s for Christmas dinner. When we moved across the state, we still traveled back for Christmas dinner. That made the move to Virginia a big shift. But the hubby has family nearby so we gather with them.
      I love that your boys still continue the tradition into adulthood and that it continues to grow. I hope that some traditions stay deeply rooted in our children when they are adults.

  2. I love that you have so many decorations with stories. One of my strong memories from childhood is of my grandparents unwrapping decorations to put on the tree, and seeing the same ones each year.

    1. I think stories with our decorations helps them become those memories we can retain around our holidays.
      There was a running joke amongst my paternal grandparents (who lived next door to us when I was a teenager) that went something like. “Oh Amy’s here, it’s time for her to fix the nativity.” I had a certain way that I liked their nativity set up and I’d just come in and arrange it to my liking…angling them this way and that…stepping back to take in the scene…shifting it some more…until…voila. lol.

  3. Beautiful tree! I love the hot chocolate tradition accompanying watching polar express, reminds me of my cousin and I when we were much much younger. New traditions in my family are mostly food related, there is a chestnut loaf with cranberry sauce and lots of deserts and other yummy treats that come but once a year 😁

  4. I love family traditions – they are so important to us too. We have one where we each buy a new decoration for the tree every year. It’s really fun going to pick them out and the kids love it. They each have a special box of their choosen decorations that they get out each year and put on the tree. You have some beautiful ones. They really do hold so many memories xx

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