Everyone has their Christmas traditions. There are a few traditions in particular that I remember from growing up, some of which were continued mostly because I insisted it was just part of Christmas at our house!
The longest standing tradition at our house is the family picture on the stairs. We have done this for years… as long as I can remember I think. Growing up we were never allowed to go downstairs until my parents were up & said we could. I am thinking that the stair picture might have started as a result of three little kids sitting there, waiting patiently (or not so patiently!) to be allowed downstairs to see what Santa had brought. However it started, it’s something we continue to do. I like it because it captures Christmas, how old we were & who was there. For a few years, there were just three of us in the picture, as my brother’s were living out west & not home for the holidays. The last couple of years we have almost filled the staircase as each of us siblings have now added a significant other to the mix & of course, there is everyone’s favourite little person, Lily. You can be sure that I intend on bringing my tripod along to my parents & setting up this traditional family shot on Christmas morning (this year Christmas eve morning!).
Last year, Colin & I started our own family tradition – cutting down our Christmas tree. Growing up my family always had a real tree (although never one that we cut down ourselves) & a real tree is just part of Christmas for me. Two years ago, in our place in Illinois, I had a three foot tall fake Christmas tree. While it was pretty enough & better than no tree at all, it just wasn’t the same as having a real tree (I discovered balsam fir candles that smell like Christmas trees as a substitute). That year, however, there was no point in having a real tree since we were going to be spending most of the holidays in Canada with our families. Last year, was our first Christmas in our house. I insisted that we get a real tree. I think I had actually figured out where the Christmas tree would go even before we bought the house! Like most men (I think!) Colin was not overly interested in decorating the tree, but he agreed that we could get a real Christmas tree & suggested that we take our nephews to a Christmas tree farm nearby to cut down our own tree. Thus beginning our Christmas tradition which has actually turned into a whole weekend of fun for the kids in our lives.
Last year, the first weekend in December, we had the nephews, Luke & Jude, come to stay for the weekend with the intention of going to get our tree. On the Friday night I made a gingerbread house with them, thinking it would occupy at least an hour of our time before bed. Well, I was wrong about that…. try 20 minutes. Haha!
The house turned out well though & the boys got to take it home with them. Saturday morning we were up early (of course) & off to get the tree. The Christmas tree farm is about 20 minutes from our house & the boys were super excited about going to cut down a tree. They have a fake tree (or should I say artifical?) at home so the prospect of having a real tree was an entirely new experience for them. It turned out to be a snowy, chilly day, perfect for hot chocolate & searching out the best Christmas tree. The tree search actually took much less time than either Colin or I had expected. On the way to the tree farm we prepped the boys on the kind of tree to look for… nice shape & fairly tall, essentially the perfect tree!
I think funniest part of the whole experience was that the boys wanted to pick trees that were their height! It was very cute but Colin & I urged them to pick a taller tree! We ended up getting a nice, tall, slim tree…
Since last year was such a success we decided to take all three kids this year, two nephews & one niece. Crazy you say? Perhaps. But it was well worth it. The boys & Lily had a great time & we were only slightly exhausted by the end of the weekend. Like last year, I had gingerbread houses to entertain the kids on Friday night. I had thought that Luke & Jude would decorate one house to take home & that I would help Lily with the other so she could take it home.
But Luke was determined he would be the one to help Lily… how cute is that? So, Luke & Lily did one house (Luke knowing full well Lily would take it home) & Jude & I completed the other so the boys could take it home.
It was slightly more challenging for me to ice two houses (at the same time) than it had been with one. The kids were patient however as Auntie B went back & forth between houses. Lily was her usual funny self, trying to sneak a taste of icing when she thought I wasn’t looking. Perhaps decorating houses at 7pm was not such a bright idea on my part. I didn’t really want to have all three kids on a sugar high when it came time to go to bed!
Saturday was tree day & all three of the kids were very excited about going! This year I did a little more research into the whole tree getting adventure & found the right place for us to go… where we could not only get a tree but where they also had lots of activities for the kid. There was a bit of a line to get into the place as apparently every family around thought the first Saturday in December was a good time to go get their tree. While we were standing in line two guys who worked at the tree farm edged past the line to get inside. Well, clever Lily thought this was a great plan & looked up at me, pointed & said “Auntie B, maybe we could just sneak in over there?” I just about fell over! Hilarious! Once inside we had to decide where to go first. We checked out the straw bale maze, the zip line (only the boys tried this), the slingshots & the play equipment in the “deep dark forest” as the kids took to calling it. When there were a few tears over a small fall at the end of the zip-line we decided it was time for a little snack.
Uncle Colin led us to one of the open campfires where the kids proceeded to goggle up some grapes & gold fishies. And finally, it was tree time!
Like last year, the actual picking of the tree was a much quicker process than I had anticipated. I think this year it was quick since the kids were beginning to get tired. Plus, it was a little muddy & I didn’t really want to stomp around in the mud all afternoon. Our tree is considerably shorter than last year, perhaps due partly to three pint sized tree pickers, but also because there just weren’t any super tall trees in the area where we were.
Luke, Jude & Lily decided on a tree fairly quickly & Uncle Colin & I gave our seal of approval. Colin had it cut down in no time & we were off to pay & load the tree in the truck. I thought we would have three sleeping kids in the truck on the way home but they somehow managed to stay awake & be silly!
Sunday, after all the kids had left, we brought the tree in the house & I decorated it, while drinking eggnog & listening to some Christmas tunes. I am pleased with our tree & it was a great start to the holiday season. And definitely a tradition we will continue again next year!