Embracing a New Kind of Christmas December 12, 2018 The Christmas season is something we start anticipating as a family months before its arrival. We look forward to celebrating our favorite traditions—like packing into the car and driving to the tree farm to pick out the tallest pine we can find, and then drinking hot cocoa while we decorate our home. It’s also tradition for us to decorate two trees every year, each with its own personality. Chip’s tree philosophy has always been that “bigger is better,” so we typically place the tree we bring home from the tree farm in our dining room. This year’s choice—standing at 13 feet—is by far the biggest we’ve ever had. I have no idea how Chip managed to get that thing in the door, but I’m sure glad he did because I can’t get enough of the smell of fresh pine. (You know it’s serious business when Chip brings out the measuring tape…) We typically decorate this tree with a simplistic approach. In addition to being wrapped in lights and adorned with shiny, silver ornaments, it’s always big (although, maybe not quite this big), and always shines bright. Chip’s 13-foot tree / November 2018 The second tree we call our “family tree.” Since we’ve lived at the farm, I’ve placed this one in the den, which we’ve always used as a second living room. The colors, stories and ornaments that go on the family tree are snapshots of the life that we’ve shared over 15 years. Chip’s mom started a fun tradition when we first got married, where she would give all of us an ornament at Thanksgiving. I loved it so much that I started something similar. Every holiday season, I get Chip and the kids an ornament that goes along with a memory from that year. I write their name and the date on the bottom, so as they get older, each one of them has a little collection that’s all their own. Every Christmas when it’s time to decorate this tree, the kids can’t wait to hang up their personal collections, as well as any handmade ornaments they’ve made throughout the year. It’s those moments, all of us looking for the perfect spot to hang our favorite ornaments, that has made this tree one of my favorite things about the holiday season. This year, when it came time to pull down the holiday boxes from the attic, I had to consider a new spot for the family tree. Our den, where the family tree was placed in past years, became a nursery in June for our new son, Crew. I thought about every possible room it could go in, and the only place where there was an open spot was the master bedroom. In years past, I would have never thought to put a Christmas tree this adorned in my bedroom, but given the circumstances, it played out just the way it was supposed to. Since bringing home Crew, our master bedroom has become a natural gathering place for our entire family. It’s also where our only working fireplace is, so we all tend to settle in there in the evenings when the weather turns colder. This year, I wanted to be intentional about embracing this transition of spaces for our family, which made our master bedroom the perfect spot to place our family tree. Plus, there’s nothing quite like falling asleep to a lit Christmas tree every night. The family tree in what is now Crew’s nursery / December 2017 The family tree this year in our master bedroom / December 2018 The other night I was holding Crew and his eyes were glued to the lit tree—he just wouldn’t look away. Watching him grow up celebrating Christmas and taking part in our family traditions this year, and every year after, is going to be so special. Truthfully, I was nervous the kids might be sad that things would look a little different this year. I even asked them if we should combine the two trees into one for next year, but they all said they love it just the way it turned out. I love how Crew has given us all fresh eyes to see the wonder in our yearly traditions. Wherever you find yourself this season, whether amidst change or right in the center of your same beloved family traditions, I hope you’ll embrace it all with renewed perspective. Merry Christmas!