This time of year is magical. Twinkling lights turn barren trees into glittering groves, cheerful Christmas melodies set the soundtrack for our day and the intoxicating smells of holiday treats tempt willpower and threaten waistlines.  Christmas brings so many traditions that help us connect with the past and look ahead to our future.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

One of my favorite things this time of year are Christmas trees.  The sharp smell of pine, fresh and clean puts me in the holiday spirit.  If I could have a different themed tree for every room of my home, I would do it.  I am not sure what a bathroom tree would be like, but imagine the possibilities!

Am I alone here?

It is not just the tree but the traditions that it brings.  Over the years this has evolved for our family.  As a young married couple we would get the most affordable Charlie Brown tree we could find and decorate with a mix of hand me down ornaments and lights.  That sparked a tradition of buying ornaments on trips as souvenirs. Every year, we unwrap each ornament and reminisce about our adventures.

When the kids came along, a trip to a tree farm to pick the perfect evergreen and of course document the occasion with dozens (ok hundreds) of pictures.  Once the tree was home and firmly (hopefully!) seated in its stand, we would decorate and then toast marshmallows in the fireplace and make s’mores to enjoy in the glow of the sparkling lights.  Maybe I rearranged an ornament or two after the kids went to bed, but I tried my best to let go of perfectionism to enjoy the process.  As the kids got older and schedules more rushed it became harder to find time to all go and pick out a tree let alone decorate together.  Sometimes it became forced family fun, but I still enjoyed the time together.

Eventually, I gave up on the fresh tree and moved to artificial.  Something I thought I would never do but eventually the sticky, picky, messiness of tinder dry needles and stagnant water is no longer fun and festive.  Putting up the tree was not always a joyous occasion either, I am sure mine is not the only marriage to be tested trying to level the tree and secure it in the tree stand.  The best part of all was that I could have my tree up earlier!  Stick a few fresh pine boughs in a vase and I have the best of both worlds, the sweet scent of real pine and a tree that lasts until New Years!

As I sit and write this my tree is sparsely adorned.  It has been up since Thanksgiving but only decorated with lights (because they come with the tree), garland and a star.  My other decorations are set up throughout the house but boxes of ornaments sit untouched.  It is finally the year that we could not all decorate the tree together.  I knew this day would come but somehow I just can’t bear the thought of trimming the tree without my kids.  You would think that the control freak in me would relish the idea of placing each ornament in the perfect spot on the tree, yet the thought brings me no joy.  This has always been an opportunity to remember old times and make new memories.

A new chapter has started.

I am a little sad but this time of year is not just about trees or traditions.  It is about hope.  The hope that comes in the birth of Jesus Christ.  All of the other things are the extra sparkle that reminds us to be a bit kinder, more generous and to share the news of the greatest gift of all.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 

Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas my friends!  Debbie

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