Decorating the tree together is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. We don’t have one of those perfectly coordinated beautiful trees. Our tree is an explosion of kid-creations, including treasures such as: The Christmas Poo (a brown blob of a cinnamon ornament my oldest made as a toddler), the Christmas Taco (a clay ornament my son made years ago), ornament sized photos of the kids from Christmas pasts, and reminders of all the trips we’ve taken as a family. Cinderella’s Castle from when my husband and I got engaged, a porcelain wedding ornament, seashells from our honeymoon, and any other trip we’ve taken. Hersheypark, Dutch Wonderland, and many OBX ornaments. It’s a visual history of our family and how we’ve grown and changed throughout the years. Most of the ornaments have the year written on them, so when we grow old we can still remember when particular things happened. I love to unwrap the ornaments before hanging them and retell the stories behind each one. I told my husband that if we were ever in an emergency situation, the bin of ornaments is the only thing I really need to save out of this entire house. Our photos are backed up, the decor is replaceable. Our babies’ handprints in clay are not.
We have a system to decorating the tree, and the kids know the drill. By now, they immediately know that Mom spends half the day fighting with the garland because she’s scared of climbing the extension ladder (hahaha), and once that is complete, we get together to decorate as a family. We do the plain balls first, spacing them out. Then the rest of the balls- the painted ones, the decorated ones, anything else that is spherical. Then we move on to the fun part- our special ornaments. Each year, the kids get to pick out a new ornament for the tree that best represents who they are right now. What are they into? Some years it’s Pokemon, or minecraft, or Thomas the Tank Engine. There are no restrictions to what they can pick out. This year we have a stack of books, a little gymnast, and I’m on the hunt for a Terraria one. Each year, we also make a new craft ornament. Rudolf handprints, salt dough wreaths, or I let them design their own (we have a bloody tooth, a pizza, and a donut on the tree!) Once the fun ones are up, we move on to the red bows and finally the candy canes. My husband climbs up the ladder to place the angel and we have our grand tree-lighting. We sit back, shut off all the lights, and turn on the tree. All 5 of us end up sitting on the floor together, completely enchanted with the magic of the finished tree.
This photo is especially memorable as our real every day life. This is how we decorate. The littlest loves ladders and decided it’s her job to hang the “up high” ornaments. Every year, we find her climbing much too high on the ladder. One of us ends up just following her around to act as her safety newt while she climbs, and she’s so proud to put the little treasures up high on the tree. My husband keeps moving the ladder to help her space out the ornaments. My son is still in the “place everything on the same 3 branches” stage, as well. He guards his ornaments, making sure no one else puts them up. He loves to bring them to me and ask about the stories behind each one- the preschool creations he’s made, his baby pictures, and the ones he’s picked out over the years. Thomas the Tank Engine, Iron Man, Boba Fett, Pikachu, Steve from Minecraft. My oldest is 10 and she’s starting to get the actual system. She helps unpack the ornaments and hovers around the tree, spacing out the ones her siblings pack too closely together. She’s the hall monitor of the Christmas Tree, and she takes her job very seriously.
Here’s the rest of the week- full stories are on instagram.