I have a hard time citing traditions that I follow. I have a routine for most holidays, but this past weekend when we were celebrating Christmas with my husband’s extended family, his aunt asked me what traditions I recognize each year and I drew a blank. I ended up talking about what food we prepare, which is a tradition of sorts, but for some reason nothing stood out to me at that second. I’ve since figured out why I was stumped, but let me digress for a few minutes into a story about this year’s Christmas tree.
I’ve always been a real Christmas tree person. As a kid, my family would drive out to our local tree farm and peruse the endless rows of Frasier and Douglas fir trees until just the right one was selected for our home. Add to that mixtapes of holiday songs serenading us as we found our perfect tree and a stop at the Corner Bar for hotdogs on the way home and you have an exact picture of my childhood Christmas experience.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2015 which began a four weekend marathon where Jesse, myself or the both of us would be away from home or working. So like any sensible, modern housewife I decided to go for the shortcut and buy our first precut Costco Christmas tree.
I bought it, hauled it home, got it up and decorated it all on my own; basking in my own efficiency came in second only to the authentic evergreen smell that I remember so clearly from the past. However, my husband’s allergies had other ideas about my Christmas accomplishment. We waited out coughing, watery eyes, and sneezing mostly because in his own sweet words, “I didn’t want to ruin Christmas.” In the end though it became clear that the killer was the Christmas tree in the family room with mold spores. Our tree had made him miserable.
The Sunday before Christmas my dear sainted husband had had enough and trudged off to the store at 8 am to get our first artificial tree. And he came back with this…
And while I had come to terms with giving up my real tree as my mother-in-law and I undecorated the allergy offender, it wasn’t going to be this Charlie Brown reject. (Disclaimer: I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, I just don’t want his tree if I have to live with it forever).
After everyone ate breakfast, simmered down and got their wits about them, we found an albeit fake, but convincing Virginia Pine replacement at Target. God bless Target, it saved Christmas. And more importantly, we have a new tradition of artificial Christmas trees. I’m happy to say that any pang of sadness I may have had when moving my real tree to the front porch was far and away overwhelmed by not wanting my husband to suffer through the holidays.
What stands out to me now as I think about his desire to not take away from my tradition and my lack of emotion over losing the real tree is that in our little family what I want more than anything is for us to form our own traditions. For me, there was a moment as we approached our second anniversary where I really felt grounded in the fact that Jesse is my family, and it was one of the happiest moments of our time together thus far.
I think the reason that I drew a blank when asked about my Christmas traditions is that I am far enough removed from my own traditions growing up, but new enough to my life with Jesse that we haven’t formed many traditions yet. I could pass the blame along to his career (being an RN means rotating holiday workdays), or the fact that we don’t have kids to base Christmas morning around, but the real reason is that I haven’t been intentional about considering what the two of us do and what we want to do during Christmastime.
And as ugly as the holiday allergy season has been for my new little family of two I am proud to say that there is at least one, new tradition that our family follows – I’m now a fake tree person, and I couldn’t be happier.