Creating Traditions

The day after Thanksgiving, the Sarge was itching to start decorating for Christmas so off we went in search of a Christmas tree. We invited the Guillory’s to come with us and they brought their black lab, Mak, much to Lena’s delight. We decided to visit a local nursery hoping to find just the right tree for each of our homes. The guys seemed to have more of an opinion about what type of tree they wanted so we just let them run with it. There were just a few types available – one with needles as sharp as knives which we quickly nixed – and the rest in a very odd shape. The trees seemed really small at the nursery and we wondered if they’d look dinky once we got them home. Wanting the full Christmas experience, both Jason and Cody opted for the 7′-8′ Norwegian firs in the hopes that there would be enough branches to decorate and that they’d fill our houses with the yummy scent of fresh cut trees.

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We’d planned to stop a couple other places as well in order to take photos for Christmas cards, but as soon as we got to the car, it became apparent that was not going to happen. Luckily, we’d taken a few family photos inside so that was going to have to suffice.

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Before stuffing it in the car, we looked at our tree unpacked from the netting to be sure we liked it. The worker assured us the branches would drop a bit more once we got home and that it would look nice and full. Did it ever. I’m not sure what happened from the time we left the nursery to setting up the tree in our house but it literally expanded to three times it’s original size. It was like the scene from Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold’s tree bursts through the windows and breaks furniture. This thing was a beast! It was the most un-Christmas tree looking thing I’ve ever seen and it had no smell. I was dying laughing as Jason proclaimed his deep disdain for the new focal point in our living room. However, after we slapped some lights on it and a few shiny baubles, it started to grow on him. I hope you’ll enjoy my photos below as I’m super proud of the twinkling lights I captured. Thanks, Pinterest!

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In an attempt to create some family traditions for Lena, I decided we should bake sugar cookies. Since she’s not used to seeing me “working” in the kitchen, this intrigued her greatly and she became my baking assistant. I let her lick the beaters for the first time ever and it’s now  become apparent that I created a monster. Do not let this jolly face fool you; she’ll shank you for some cookie dough. She also had her first sugar meltdown later in the day and there is a video on the internet where you can witness one of the most impressive temper tantrums in the history of toddlerhood. It ends with her slapping herself in the head – because sometimes you’re so mad you just have to beat yourself!

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The next night, we decorated the cookies together. In other words, I frosted them and Lena dumped sprinkles all over the kitchen. She took this job very seriously until she realized the sprinkles were edible and then she took eating them very seriously. Learning my lesson from the night before, I only let her have one cookie sans frosting. Luckily, there was no meltdown and she even lasted long enough to deliver some treats to our neighbors. Being that she’s now a full-fledged two year old, the Bacon Bit has clear opinions on EVERYTHING and she insisted upon wearing her cowboy hat during the cookie delivery.

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Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, we stayed busy making all sorts of goodies and treats. We thought it would be fun for Lena to have her own tree in her room so I found a recipe for cinnamon ornaments. It was really simple and the smell was amazing. We let her hang the ornaments where she thought they would look best and when it was done, she was so proud of herself. I definitely want this do this each year and hopefully we can make a new set of ornaments each year based on whatever theme she picks.

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Our final batch of cookies were Peanut Butter Blossoms. As soon as I took out the mixer, Lena pushed a chair over to the counter and started screaming, “Cookiesh! Cookiesh!” I never realized how exciting it could be to crack an egg (nor how tedious to remove tiny bits of shell from cookie dough) but that is now the number two requested activity in our house right behind eating cookies for every meal and snack time.

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Our biggest goal for Lena’s Christmas tradition is that we learn about Jesus and why it is we’re celebrating and doing all these fun activities in the month of December. So we agreed to a two present limit between the three of us, made homemade gifts and cards for the grandparents, and did everything we could to continually explain the nativity story. Surprisingly, Lena seems to have absorbed a lot of it with the help of some really great learning tools. These have been our favorites this year and hopefully will become part of Lena’s Christmas memories as she continues to grow up:

  • A Christ-focused nativity calendar. This brought intense excitement each morning as we opened a window and talked about what the picture meant. They were very repetitive – wise men, Mary, Joseph, and shepherds. Lena loved it
  • Melissa & Doug Wood Nativity Set. It’s virtually indestructible which I loved and we set it up behind the couch where Lena could play with it all day long – and she did. After a few times playing with it, she would tell us the names of the characters. Hearing her little voice say Mawwy (Mary), Men (wisemen), Sheffs (Shepherds), Jesus and Gars (Star) is just about the cutest thing ever
  • The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. This book was a gift from my cousin, Liv, and is incredibly sweet. We’ve been reading it multiple times a day per Lena’s request.

I love Christmas and everything that comes with it. I have to say, though, that adding a kiddo into the mix has made it infinitely more fun. This was the first year where Lena started grasping that something was going on and both Jason and I were beyond excited to see her joy and curiosity about it all. It seems impossible, but it might be more fun to be a parent than a child at Christmas because you get to help create the magic and wonder of this season – even if that means a fat Christmas tree and sugar cookie meltdowns!

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