When my hubby and I had three toddler boys at home, we had a fake Christmas tree. Imagine my life with three energetic boys, each just two years apart from another.
A fake tree saved me from chasing kids through massive tree lots while my hubby and I bickered over the “right” tree. Fallen needles to be eaten and choked on by my son who put everything in his mouth. Forgetting to water the tree because I have laundry and spit-up and diaper rash on the brain. There was NO way I was getting a real tree at that stage of our lives.
After the boys got bigger, it was a habit we were in. We had a tree, so why go pay $40+ for a real one every year?
Then came the year that two kittens joined our house because when mother-in-law asked me to take the two little strays to the animal shelter, they ended up spending the weekend in my home and never leaving! (Don’t ever bring adorable kittens into your house and think you’ll have the courage to let them leave. I tried. Not possible.)
Well, those kittens loved to climb and bat at things and play! As you can imagine, the Christmas tree became their own private amusement park. We tried to deter them by squirting water at them. That was only a temporary fix. When we slept, they played. Every morning I found misplaced and broken ornaments. Eventually, several branches would accompany the glass shards on the floor. By New Year’s Day, I conceded. That fake tree we had used for 10 years was destroyed.
The following Black Friday, my hubby picked up a new fake tree, by my request. However, it just didn’t sit right with us. We had survived a decade of Christmases devoid of the scent of natural pine and the quest for the perfect tree. It was time to create a new family Christmas tradition.
I stuffed that plastic tree tightly back into its box and two weeks later we ventured out, with three boys and a new baby girl in tow, into the snowy night to buy a real tree.
The experience was great. No arguing, a warm campfire, a tractor-pulled hayride through the beautiful tree farm. It was perfect.
The next day we erected our gorgeous, living tree that edited a comforting scent of pine throughout the room. (Home Alone played on the TV in the background. Every year while we decorate. Every year… Kevin!!!!!)
With my three little helpers excited to decorate a real, live tree, it seemed almost magical how quickly the tree transformed. Lights, garland, and ornaments were flying onto the tree.
An ornament my son made as a toddler.
Another that his brother made in pre-school.
Here’s the one that was a gift from my stepmom; “Oh, I love this one.”
“Grandma bought these for us, one snowman for each of us.”
“Oh look, a handcrafted angel from Stella!”
“Nana helped you make that one.”
“You made this one with your Aunt.”
“This sailboat is for JoJo!”
“Mom, remember these from our old neighbors?”
“Ahaha… this one is from my sister. I miss her.”
“Baby’s First Christmas, one for each of you.”
The memories of our loved ones and past Christmases flooded every open space on the tree. Many of the people from these memories aren’t here anymore. But these decorations, these ornaments, these precious trinkets, they each represent life. My life, my children’s’ lives, the lives of the people we love.
This tree was a living tree, but what truly brought it to life was donning with all our special treasures and memories.
For years my kids have been telling me which ornaments they plan take with them when they eventually move out. And that thought fills my soul with so many good feelings. All the memories attached to this ritual and these ornaments will live on with them for years and years to come.
Yes, I am very sentimental. Yes I seem to get intoxicated by the smell of pine. And since the Christmas we ventured out for our first living tree as a family, we have returned to that same tree lot every year. And each year, our Christmas tree is brought to life when we adorn it with our treasures.
If you enjoyed this article, check out A Mom Who Doesn’t Cook.