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Thursday, December 10, 2015

the tree - and traditions.

As a kid I distinctly remember trudging through knee-deep snow in the woods, following my dad with his saw, searching for our Christmas tree. 

There was no official "tree farm" but we were allowed to go through and pick out anyone we could find on the land of one of the church elders, free of charge.  We always found one, a big one -- tall, yet buxom with boughs of Balsam needles, the easiest for little hands to put decorations on.

The tree was put in the basement family room of our split-level home, which also housed a huge stone fireplace whose wide hearth was the stage for many a performance by one of the four kids in our family.

Lights on our Christmas tree were always blue, decorations hand-made by us or folks from our church.  Nothing super fancy; yet Christmas always felt magical at our house.  My mom always made sure Christmas was really beautiful for us.  In actuality, we were spoiled.  We always got the "big gift" we dreamed of each year, whether or not we could afford it.  And the smorgasbord of food on Christmas Eve, from which we filled up plate after plate to nibble on while opening gifts, was nothing short of amazing.  Mom was intent on making Christmas a holiday we would dream about all year.  She always made it happen.  Her efforts made the entire month so special.

I think it rubbed off on my sister and I, as we both have confessed to trying to do the same for our young families - create that magic.  Mom set the bar pretty high.  For example, I can't imagine not having a real tree, despite the lovely artificial ones that are out there.  It is tradition.  Others? We always open our gifts on Christmas Eve, after coming home from church and putting on our Christmas pjs.  I have special foods I make for that night.  Christmas Day is about relaxing and eating and maybe not leaving the house at all. Any family is welcome to come and visit us, and eat and be merry with us...but we will be in our pjs, most likely.

And there are a few new traditions...a birthday cake and singing for Jesus, Polar Express movie night, and cookie exchange parties with friends.   New and old, together.  Our Christmas.

This year, as we have every year since we got married, we went to a tree farm out in the country to chop down our tree.   A new place this year, but every bit as fun.
snuggling on a hay bale in the barn.
baby trees!
the wagon trail.
um, the kids were a bit cold.  forgot the mittens.

following dada, wearing his official, bright red, tree-chopping sweater he wears every year.
"wait for me!" 
even the trees look cold.
frozen spider webs.
collecting rocks for her pockets, per usual.
they look peaceful, though probably arguing.
winner?
this was the one.  WAY too big but we decided we could cut it down to size if necessary.
Yep, Hubby lugged that behemoth of a tree with his bare hands a quarter mile back to the barn.  By the time he got there he was in his t-shirt and no hat, sweating profusely.  Ah, memories.  :)

Meanwhile, I was with the kiddos getting warm with hot chocolate, homemade cookies and hot dogs.

It was a really nice morning; although, being from Minnesota a bit of snow would have been nice! You know, just in December...January 1st it can all melt... :)

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This season of Advent, roughly the month of December, is about preparing for the coming of a Savior for mankind.  Christmas Eve we celebrate that miracle birth of long ago.  A baby, yet a King.   However you celebrate, whatever traditions you and your family have,  keep that truth in your hearts!