We, along with I think most of the rest of the world (or at least everyone in the Instagram world), went to get our Christmas tree last weekend. It was the perfect Christmas weather: cold, wet, muddy and windy but not raining. This type of activity is my absolute favorite, but not quite up Matt’s alley. Nature would not be one of his loves. So that made this little trek all the more special because he bundled up and put on his boots and a smile, grabbed a saw and made it a fun day. He even entertained my insisting that we sit around the campfire and roast our hotdogs and drink the apple cider, and he cut the tree down himself (as if he’d have me do that at 38 weeks pregnant, but still). It really meant so much to me. He spoke my love language that day.
I’m not sure what is in the dirt or water here in Vancouver, but literally almost every tree was near perfect. It was hard to pick one! Each one seemed perfectly proportionate with no holes or gaps. We finally settled on a cute little douglas fir, because I have this idea in my head that douglas fir are just the best (they are also the most expensive, of course). Ev was really into it, commenting on each tree and telling us which ones she wanted. Theo, on the other hand, was in a weird mood and just kept wandering off. I would’ve thought mud and trees would thrill him and be right up his alley, but it turns out he spotted the fire pit on the way in and just wanted to get back to that (typical boy). At one point I actually lost him and panicked because the tree farm was right next to a busy highway. Those 10 or 20 seconds of fright were not fun. After calling his name over and over I finally saw his little head pop in and out of the trees, I think he thought we were playing a game because he seemed pretty proud of himself.
It’s strange to think that at this time next year we’ll have a nearly one year old joining us on our tree hunt. Ev will be in kindergarten. I’ll be 28 and hopefully a lot less round. I keep thinking “this will be our last time doing this as 4″ every time we do something special like this. Not that it’s a bad thing to have a 5th person join us, it’s just…hard to imagine, simply because I haven’t met this little person yet and don’t know what it will be like. I’m sure I will love it, and that this little boy or girl will make us wonder how did we ever do life before them, without them? That’s the wonder of new life.
Experiencing Christmas through and with your own little ones has to be one of the best things ever. It reminds me to be in the moment, to notice the details. I think kids do that to us in general, but at Christmastime it’s accentuated, more magical. The getting of our Christmas tree certainly was.
Now that it’s December I feel like I can finally post something from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Despite the fact I’ve been listening to Christmas music for weeks and that here in Canada it makes sense to start celebrating Christmas earlier than in the States due to Thanksgiving taking place in October, I just felt like I had to wait until American Thanksgiving was over before posting about Christmas! So, here we are. The month of Christmas (and the month of baby!)
I’m all about the traditions when it comes to holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular. I love the experiences and the smells and rituals. Just yesterday we trekked out to Richmond (a 25 minute car ride feels like a trek when virtually everything you need is within a block radius) to go to a tree farm, the kind where they give you a saw and you cut it down yourself. That, to me, is part of experiencing Christmas. As is sipping hot chocolate at night with all the lights out except the sprinkling on the tree, or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve. I love the gift giving, I love the stockings, I love the food. I love those memories I have, and I desperately want to give that to my kids. I literally want them to get that warm and fuzzy feeling when they think about Christmas. I think it’s so much fun, especially as a kid.
But, inevitably, there’s the tendency and trap of getting all caught up in the extras (namely, the gifts, especially for kids), that it can be really easy to lose sight of why we are celebrating, and what it all is really about. It’s really easy to let the silly stress of what to get who that it can sadly, ruin Christmas. Around the time I was 16 or so, I actually started getting a sinking, sad feeling around Christmas. I think it was because as I was getting older, the gifts weren’t as exciting anymore. All the “stuff” was not as fulfilling as I had hyped it up to be in my head. So, since then, I’ve thought a lot about how to make Christmas about what it’s really about. I think it’s actually pretty simple—having an intentional mindset that is focused on the birth of Christ, and on others. Keeping joy and contentment and relationships in priority over all the things. But, I’d like to be even more intentional in action, something that the kids can see.
So, I’m curious. What do you do to drive home the point to your kids that it’s not all about them? That the gifts are great, the tree and decorations and chocolate are all so much fun and a part of this season—but it’s not the be all and end all if they don’t get exactly what they want? How do you make this season one that is focused on others? Because, let’s be honest, it’s really easy to turn into a brat at Christmas time! Would love to hear your thoughts and traditions and suggestions if you have any:)
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed this morning when it hit me: today is Thanksgiving. Not that I didn’t know that already, but I just thought I was ok with missing out on it again this year. Seeing many friend’s posts from back home brought it all back. I smiled seeing all the traditions I normally would’ve been partaking in myself, but still, a sudden sadness crept over me. Not to be melodramatic, but it’s just hard for me. This has always been my favorite holiday, and it holds so many memories for me, memories that help shape and define what’s most meaningful to me. It’s more than just a turkey, it’s that I associate the smell of a turkey cooking with my mom, preparing for weeks ahead of time to make it a special day. And, who does’t love that smell anyway?
I had been lying on the couch thinking all of this as Ev and Theo stood at my feet looking at our little Christmas tree that we set up yesterday. It’s kind of like our own Charlie Brown tree. I love it. These days, it’s dark when we wake up, so the tree lights were on, the rest of the apartment was still and dark. Theo suddenly turned around and went to his and Ev’s room, emerging with Ev’s red and white strawberry comforter. He started to spread it out over me, patting it down and making sure I was comfortable. Ev joined in. They both then came up to me and hugged me in turn, then kissed me, Theo’s smooch coming through his blue paci. Ev told me she loved me, and said ‘Merry Christmas!’ They are 2 and 4, but kids have a way of providing perspective.
This may be an atypical holiday year for me, Christmas included because we’ll be staying put after baby is born. But my kids showed me that it’ll be ok. We’ll miss our families, but we have each other. I guess that’s part of growing up and starting your own family. We’ll carry on with the traditions my parents implemented over the years and create some of our own. And although we may be missing out on the extras of Thanksgiving this year, still, I can participate by choosing thankfulness and joy. Despite the lack of the smell of turkey. Enjoy it for me this year!