It's that time of year again! Yay! Break out the decor and Christmas cheer!!!
I love Christmas. I love it so much I have been known to do a "Christmas in July" and even start the Christmas stations on Spotify in October (...or earlier...)! I have a lot of memories and traditions that I cherish from holidays of my past, and being a mother has been a really amazing part of the Christmas experience now. I get to continue old traditions, add new ones, and really cultivate a Christmas experience that is perfect for our little family! I do have a new appreciation for all the work my parents did, traditions are not easy- but seeing the magic in my children's eyes has made every moment thus far well worth it!
One of my very favorite decorations of the season? The TREE! A few years ago we started doing real trees. I switched and have never looked back! I love the experience of choosing a tree, the smell, the texture of the branches, I really adore it all! I found it added a special new experience in our holiday traditions, and I look forward to the tree with great joy!
Last year my parents came in mid-December. Our little people adore their grandparents, and asked to wait to choose a tree until Grandma and Grandpa could join us and help. When my parents arrived we all took a trip into town and went to a tree lot. While the adults walked the isles and gazed from tree to tree, the children instantly took off running to a tree they found in the very back, hidden among giants, some 12 feet tall.
"THIS IS IT!" They screamed in unison. They jumped, danced, and laughed with such glee. THIS was the tree!!!
The tree was... not my favorite. In fact, if you had asked me to choose 10, it wouldn't have been on there. 20? Yeah, still not on there. It was not what I pictured in my little perfect Christmas. The kids were dead set on that tree. The tree was about 5 feet tall, and nearly as wide. It was not a fir, but a pine. I like firs. Ugh. We asked the kids to visit a local store, and promised to discuss the tree. We went to the store, discussed it, and they were still set on this tree. We went back to the lot, and the kids formed a circle around the base of the tree, arms outstretched hugging the tree and faces deep in the needles.
"This is it, Mom! It is the perfect tree! This tree needs us, and we need it!"
I took a deep breath, and smiled. The tree came home...
One year later...
It is now December 2015! We are overjoyed to be expecting a new baby - who can safely arrive anytime after Christmas Eve! My parents live pretty far away, and they are coming in January to celebrate the baby and to watch the grand-kids if we deliver on baby's due date. The trip was planned back in September or so, and within days the children came to us with an announcement: they are postponing Christmas.
Kurt and I tried to talk the kids out of this, just because we were sure that they would regret the decision. Days went by. Weeks. My parents talked to them. Friends talked to them. Everyone was fascinated by their passion to move the holiday, all three are dead set on moving Christmas. Their rationale was that they wanted to spend the holidays all together- they wanted their grandparents to be a part of the traditions and memories. They wrote to Santa and asked him to come later, and they talked to us and asked that if Santa still comes on Christmas Eve could we please hide the gifts until Grandpa and Grandma arrive. They plead with Elfden, our Elf on a Shelf. They had made up their minds.
We agreed to move Christmas. Not all of Christmas, just the Santa and gift portion. In our family we spend one day completely focused on Christ, and the other is on the Santa and gifts. This year Christmas Day will come with a birthday cake for Jesus (they are aware it is not his exact birthday, but a symbol- similar to us moving their birthday celebrations to the weekends so their dad can be off work and spend the whole day celebrating too). We will play games, sing songs, make crafts, watch movies, drink cocoa, and really saturate ourselves in the joy of Christ's birth! And then? A few weeks later, Santa will come!!!
Because the kids moved Christmas, and we do a real tree, we waited on picking up our beautiful conifer. The day finally came when I just couldn't wait any longer (I made it to the 15th of December, people- this is a miracle!), and I took the children to go get a tree. I had told the kids that the tree had to be a fir tree. Last year, aside from being short and squat, our tree (a pine) made Harrison's eyes water and his nose run. Poor guy had to be on Claritin just to live in his own house! We were able to switch him to an herbal formula a week later, but I didn't want to deal with that again. Plus, the fir trees tend to be more tall and stately in appearance- which I love. Win, win! Right?
While I browsed the 9 foot firs (let's take advantage of these super high 1850's ceilings, folks!) the kids went down another isle. And then... it happened.
"MOM! MOM! MOM! WE FOUND IT! IT IS THE MOST PERFECT TREE!!!!" Shouts of glee, jumps of joy, cheers. I stepped away from the elegant fir I had been admiring and walked to them. Wouldn't you know, they found the shortest, fattest, most full fir tree I have ever laid eyes on. My eyes beheld the misfit runt of the Christmas tree world. My kids eyes, on the other hand, were filled with visions of magic, twinkle lights, and adoration. Looking at them, gazing at their "perfect" tree, filled my heart.
We took it home.
The kids and I pulled out the decorations and while I put the hooks on the ornaments, they placed the ornaments on the tree. We worked together, Christmas music playing, and the tree was decorated. They sat back and admired their work. Their faces aglow in the lights. They will tell you theirs is the most beautiful tree in the whole world.
Is it the 9 (or 10) foot tree I was thinking of? No. It is decorated the way I would do it? No. Does it look the way I pictured in my head? Not even close.
I am very aware that our children may not always love short, squat, "dwarf" trees (they named it Dwarf... they said they need it, as they are hobbit sized, so a Dwarf tree is perfection). I know this because years ago Carter would only choose green pumpkins, and he grew out of that. I allowed him to choose and love his little green pumpkins- loners in a field of perfectly fat orange ones- and he grew to be comfortable loving things for what they were, instead of striving for (or settling on) someone else's idea of perfection. I find myself admiring my kids- their passionate love of things I see as quirky, odd, or flawed- they instead see as beautifully unique.
Someday Kurt and I will choose the tree without little kids there to offer suggestions. Someday I will spend hours and hours decorating things exactly the way I think they look best. Someday I will have my tall and slender tree, my lights all mathematically aligned, the ornaments spaced just so. And then I wonder if I will look around at the picture-perfect rooms... and miss the dwarf tree.
I am not sure, but I do know that the years are passing quickly. If we stop having children right now* we only have 7 Christmases left together under one roof. That is it... just 7. Yes, we will have 19 with the new baby, but as a whole family unit- just 7. Only 9 left with half of our kids. Wow. That is not a whole lot. And in the grand eternal scheme of life? That will pass by so quickly.
So for now, dwarf trees ARE perfect.
*We have no plans to have or not have more children at this time. Just as it is unwise to grocery shop on an empty tummy, it is unwise to discuss future children with a hyperemetic woman in her 9th month of pregnancy.