There are so many things I love about the holidays. I'm a traditions girl and this time of year is all about that. Traditions we've created over the years for our family that we look forward to each year. Making memories I hold close to my heart. For me it is about these special moments we have together. Some people get frantic this time of year. It certainly is easy to get caught up in the chaos...you can feel it in the stores, you can sense it from those around you trying to cram it all in, buy all the gifts, get to all the parties. When I feel myself getting lost in it, I take a breath and focus on my holiday mantra...keep it simple and remember what it really means to us. The memory making, the traditions....
Getting our Christmas Tree
Except for a few years here and there we've always headed to the mountains to chop down our tree. There were the years we didn't live in Montana so it simply wasn't possible, the years when the babies were too little to trek out to the mountains and the one year we decided it would be easier to go to a local farm and pay to cut one of their trees. After that $75 mistake we vowed we would only go to the mountains and pay the five dollar permit to get our trees. Hyalite Canyon is generally our choice and this year the day was perfect. Bright blue skies, warm sun, fresh snow and numerous perfect-for-a-mountain-tree trees. Throw in some sledding and hot cocoa and what we have here is a perfect tradition for the memory bank.
Once we have our tree we put it up in the garage for a week and let it thaw out a bit. This is because I like to spread the traditions out throughout the season. We can't get the tree and decorate it on the same day. No, no, no. We add to the anticipation by waiting until the next weekend. Then it's time to deck the halls.
The Christmas station on Pandora gets worn out the day we decorate the tree. There really are only a handful of songs that are played over and over by various artists in various versions. Some find that annoying, I find it part of the charm. And the best because then you totally know all the words for singing. Anyways...the tubs of decorations come out and the girls and I get busy while Matt observes and throws on the occasional ornament. The girls start putting things in crazy places and I try to stay calm and remember having it look like Christmas threw up all over my living room is part of the fun. Years from now I can have all the decorations be in what I consider the right place and I can cut out half of the snowmen that need to be put on the mantle. For now I want to see it from their carefree eyes.
From the Christmas Stroll to the Nutcracker to school holiday programs to office parties. December is full, but it is the good kind. The kind that is perfectly balanced with lazy weekends. It means one night we get dressed up, leave the girls with grandma and drink wine late into the night with friends and the next we stay in pajamas and all snuggle on the couch watching Miracle on 34th Street. It means rather than going to every event that goes on this month, we pick the ones we love the most and say no thanks to the rest. The ones we never miss are watching Santa light the downtown decorations and hot cocoa at the Stroll.
Baking and decorating cookies has been a tradition I've done with my mom and sisters long before we had kids. It is one I treasure even more now that I get to have them be a part of it. Cousins, sprinkles, frosting, sugar, laughter, more sprinkles pretty much sums it up.
This year the kids made gingerbread houses. They worked on them for hours. Each kid had dreamed up such a different idea and I was impressed with how they turned out. This crew is something else.
There is more to come. A couple more weeks to squeeze in more memories. Driving around to check out Christmas lights, making reindeer food, wrapping presents and more holiday movies to be watched. There is family to be with and old friends coming to town. There are cookies and notes to be left for Santa and as Ava says "the magic feeling of waking up on Christmas morning". These are the things I want them to take from the holidays...the magical feeling of the season. The family time, the love, the traditions.