The Family Tree: A Christmas Tradition
The best way I know how to make each season special is to create traditions. Just as it is important to create a rhythm to your day it is important to create a rhythm to your year. I feel it is ever more important to create these traditions during the winter months. On dark days we need things that bring excitement and anticipation. Whether it be a gathering with friends you do each year to exchange gifts or to write down your hopes for the year ahead or maybe it is to volunteer at a local charity. No matter what one thing is true, traditions are a necessity to living a life of intention and purpose. The older I have become and as I reach into my 30’s I realize how these traditions have marked times and moments in life from the first year of marriage to our first winter in North Carolina. Looking back on each of these moments reminds me of where we were at that time in our life and I am better able to reflect on how things have changed and how we have grown. One of our most important traditions we have established is going and getting our Christmas tree. This year it feels extra special to me since it is our first Christmas as a family of three.
I have fond memories of growing up and getting bundled in my snowsuit and my mom and dad pulling my brother and I in a sled behind them as we wandered through the snow to find just the perfect tree. It was always cold and I remember by the end not being able to feel my nose, but after strapping the tree to the top of the car we would head to a little cafe in the small town where we got our tree from a man named Jack Buckhorn (yeah I still remember his name…so crazy huh?!). I remember the bar and restaurant so well and I remember eating pancakes and drinking hot chocolate. It was a tradition.
We didn’t have the chance to always continue this tradition as my parent’s life shifted and we moved away from Michigan and it was easier for us to instead have a fake tree. Instead, we made new traditions through those years, but when Mike and I got married, I made the firm decision we would always have a real tree and we would always go and find one as a family.
So, this year as the first real snow started to fall, we made the decision that today was the day. Not fully prepared for the cold we took the adventure anyways and as we drove back from my parent’s home from the weekend, we stopped at a U-Cut farm just south of Traverse City.
I have caught myself many times already this month with tears in my eyes watching Hayes take in this season. His wonder of the trees and the lights and now the snow is sometimes far too much for my sentimental heart to take. I realize just how precious this time of year will be this year. I realize just how important it is to make it magical, to instill traditions, and to allow ourselves to all stop and see this season through his eyes.
These times pass quickly. There is nothing better than being an entrepreneur and a parent to a baby to show you just how fast life passes by. So this year I have vowed to make time to create moments that allow us to remain present as a family. Our tree will be an important piece of how we celebrate this time of year. I have plans of allowing our children choose an ornament each year and to create an advent calendar because the magic of this holiday isn’t something I feel should be places solely on one day. The anticipation of Christmas is to me just as magical.
Though Hayes will not remember our adventure on this chilly and wet day to the tree farm my hope is that it helps us feel the importance of these moments together that break the ordinary and that mark this time and season in all of our lives both together and individually.
It would be easy this year to skip the tradition because toting a baby around through a tree farm isn’t the easiest thing especially on a cold winter day, but seeing the joy that arose on his face in those rows of trees reminded me of just why it is important to always follow through on traditions. These times are special and fleeting.
Next year, it will be different. Hayes will be talking and telling us all about his thoughts about trees and opinions on the lights and running through the rows. But next year my hope is to be setting up our first tree in our new home. My hope is that tradition will be the beginning of many trees that we will gather around as a family and because we have this tradition that has seen us through so many years of our life together so far, I know it will be there again to help us mark and celebrate a new chapter of life as a family.
So, as we took our tree selection up and placed our tree in the bed of the truck I stopped for a second to take in the moment. The falling snow covering our hats and shoulders. I took time to take a measure of myself from the chill on my cheeks to the warmth the fire near us offered. I felt Hayes on my hip and looked at his sweet rosy cheeks. I marked in my mind how this year just how this moment looked. I allowed myself to write this note of this chapter with this tradition in our life. Even as I got back in the car and wrestled Hayes out of all of his winter layers, I recognized this as part of this moment in our life and just how even in that struggle there is beauty to be celebrated.
What kinds of traditions do you have? Do you cut your own tree? Do you like a fake one? The mess is so much less, but I cannot get over not having the fresh scent of the tree in our house.
Tree farm we went to: Schumuckal Tree Farm in Kalkaska
My coat: Bridge and Burn
My hat: Cuyana
My jacket: Patagonia
My boots: Blundstone
My gloves: Gordini
Mike’s Jacket: Huckberry
Hayes’s Booties: Luvable Friends
Hayes’s Mittens: Zutano
Hayes’s overalls: Zara
Hayes’s Coat: Old Navy
Hayes’s Hat: Hanna Andersson