A Sentimental-ish Post about Traditions. Kind of.

Since the day I found out I was pregnant with Carlitos, my husband and I have lived in six different homes in three different states.  I changed jobs and added in about four different part-time positions, he changed jobs three times and started graduate school.

To balance out the chaos, we have plenty of solid family traditions that help stabilize our little family.  I have noticed that since moving to New York City, I tend to push these traditions to be as full of nature as possible.   Apple picking in September, pumpkin picking in October, Christmas tree chopping in December.    I also just noticed that I didn’t have a blog post for this year’s apple picking, nor pumpkin picking excursions. Hmm…what would possibly cause me to not document these beautiful memories?

Oh, wait!  I did document these memories…on Instagram!  Ahh yes, Instagram has effectively stolen the photographic memory portion of this blog.

So I am stealing it back.

Here are the Instagram photos of us choosing our tree:

The boys are just happy to be out doors.  Okay, really they’re happiness probably stems more from being allowed to carry the saw and tree-measuring stick.

Spotting the perfect tree?  Or yelling at his brother?  Let’s go with tree spotting.  More magical.

Riding a horse. (His words, not mine.)

Teamwork.  Okay, this was actually super adorable.

Looks lovely, right?  Carlitos was trying to push my hand off of the measuring stick and Xavi kept swinging the saw into my shin.  #littleboys…sigh  as they say in the Instagram world.

I am pretty sure that, as with verb tense in an essay, you are supposed to stick to one ‘filter’ throughout documentation of a specific experience.  I don’t follow rules very well.

After inspecting every single tree there, we finally cut down the tree that spoke to our souls.  I mean, that was the least brown and/or less than 12 feet high.

So, the thing about cutting down your own Christmas tree is that it often costs more than what you would pay on the sidewalk in Manhattan.   The trees are also not as uniformly perfect.   Or at least, that has been our experience thus far.  Fill up the gas tank, drive for two hours, cut down our tree, pay for some hot cider and cocoa,  put more gas in the car, stop at a restaurant, drive two hours home, put up our tree and make ourselves fall in love with her sparse branches and gaping hole on the top, right hand side.

It is clearly a labor of love, not pursuit of perfection.  The experience is what makes it so special and what makes us love our dear little tree as much as if it were full, sturdy and symmetrical.  Perhaps more.

In truth, it is one of my most proud parenting moments each year.  I am reminded of our adventurous spirit as a family collectively.  The tradition is strong, but we alter it each year, visiting a different tree farm or picking out a local restaurant at the last minute.   I love the combination of knowing we will all take part in this annual tradition enthusiastically, but will also see what spur of the moment experiences we can add to it each time.

I know I am getting sappy and gushy and soppy and gloppy.

I don’t really have an excuse.

So here are some stolen moments from Instagram of our tree decorating.  (Poor little bugga needed some decorating and general TLC.)

The boys watching Rudolph while waiting for their daddy to finish his homework so we could start decorating.

The boys’ Tias gave them these awesome plates.  The arrangement of vegetables on them is blatant mom bragging (magging?), but I don’t care.  It was part of our ‘tree decorating evening’ experience.

To compensate for the ‘magging’ here is some mom shaming (Maming? No, not maiming, maming.) I totally had a dessert martini before dinner.  By myself. (Sidenote: chocolate vodka, half and half, splash of amaretto, spoonful of Nutella, shaken.  Make it.  Lordy.)

The before shot.  Missing:  ornaments.  Also missing: the tree skirt that ‘mice’ ate and pooped on in storage.  Yay city life!

We aren’t the only (awful) parents that rearrange the boys’ ornaments after they go to bed, right?  I think the tree would have fallen over if we didn’t.  Or those two branches would have at least collapsed under the weight of 23 ornaments each.

Aww.  Golden, dreamy filter.  Twinkling lights.  The children placing the angel on top of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  The angel I made out of a paper plate 25 years ago.  With their arms around each other.  And matching PJs.  Who am I kidding, the only thing taking my breath away in this photo is how damn hot my husband’s arm looks.  Fatherhood looks good on you, hotstuff.

Done!  And very proud of it, in case you can’t tell!

We are always in the business of adding more traditions to the holidays, so please feel free to share yours in the comments!

Unless, of course, if involves the Elf on the Shelf.  I love seeing updates from funny people who turn into Sarah Silverman and Martha Stewart’s lovechild with their Elf of the Shelf antics for all of December, but I won’t be taking part.  I am just not that creative.  I am the girl who tries to make her gingerbread house look exactly like the sample one on the box.  I could never come up with 25 creative elf activities.

Anything else though, lay it on me!

And, just, you know, totally random helpful holiday hint:  Don’t ever pack up left over Christmas cookies with your Christmas tree skirt and Santa hats in an easily chomped-through plastic bag.  You may regret it.  Or so I’ve heard.

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6 Responses to A Sentimental-ish Post about Traditions. Kind of.

  1. Shannon says:

    Coming from another tradition filled household- I LOVE this post :-) Good stuff. Our tree is getting picked out tomorrow (from a parking lot- hey, its Fla…) and put up- can’t wait.

  2. Shannon -

    Thanks for the sweet comment. It must be odd to pick out a tree in warm weather, but if you have the spirit it doesn’t matter! :)

  3. Zoë says:

    I’m curious if any of these traditions come from your childhood. Do you remember being Carlitos’s age and doing these things with your own folks?

    My C has really gotten into Hannukah this year, and I have to say I find it very satisfying to see her singing the same songs that I did as a kid and even learning a few words of the Hebrew prayers. It’s a weird sort of narcissistic thing, like appreciating how your kids look like you or your spouse, but it is one of the pleasures of raising kids–choosing what special traditions will get carried on through the generations.

  4. Zoe -

    The tree cutting is not a tradition I remember. When I was first born we lived in the White Mountains in Maine and my parents cut down a huge tree from our property, but I don’t personally remember it. So, that is more of a tradition we created.

    But there are certain items Santa puts in my kids’ stockings that he always put in mine (a citrus fruit in the toe and a bag of gold coins.) Also, my husband and I seem to argue each year about whether or not to wrap any presents from Santa and whether they should be in front of the tree or in the boys’ bedroom. So, I yes, I guess the fact that we argue about it means that we each feel strongly about doing things for our kids the way it was done for us.

    You are totally right that on some level pretty much all of procreating/parenting comes back to some sort of narcissistic human nature base. It is very heart warming and fulfilling to see our kids partake in traditions we had as kids.

    Happy to hear you are able to do the same with yours. :)

  5. Awesome post, and I’m with you about the Christmas tree.

    It’s like getting an autograph or making a birthday card.

    You could pay for them and go the easy route, but when you get it the hard way … there’s nothing sweeter.

  6. Eli –
    Exactly!

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment! :)

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