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Watching our family grow one tree at a time

We’ve mentioned before that we love holiday traditions. In talking about prepping this post, Matt and I realized we’ve been cutting down our own Christmas tree for 5 years. Our friends invited us with their family (actually, it was Kerry) and I remember seeing Cole toddle around in the dirt and mud as we let our kids run free and shout “I like this one, no this one!” from across the giant fields.

Since then, it’s become our family’s official kick-off to the holiday season, usually we venture out on Thanksgiving weekend and enjoy getting the pick of the field. This year, Thanksgiving came early so we decided to wait until this weekend, the first in December. The great thing is, a quality fresh-cut tree will last a LONG time. So depending on the variety, you can enjoy the holiday season longer than you would with the franken-trees your local shopping center parking lot might be offering.

Plus, we love supporting local business and letting the boys see the growth it takes for us to enjoy a single Christmas tree each year.  They are able to recognize trees that have been there a LONG time and ones that were just planted.  Each year we debate the variety of tree we’d like, whether we want a bushy tree with mostly lights or one with lots of space for ornaments. No matter the choice, we always take a picture of us standing in front of the selected tree right before we cut it down. It’s a been a great way to watch our family change over the years.

In 2007 Stacy was pregnant with Finn (born in March) and in 2009 she is pregnant with Wes (born in May). We went late in 2008, so those pictures are all with a flash and no one else was in the field to take our picture as a whole. It’s a fun way to take a peek back in time. It’s also very cool that Cole’s old enough now where he remembers the years before. It’s a tradition that he’s come to look forward to and we all love getting excited about our day trip to the tree farm. In fact, 2010 was SO cold outside that before we left this year he instructed us all to bring jackets in case it got windy while we were there.

But cold and windy it wasn’t; this year we went on Saturday afternoon and the sun was beaming and we had a fantastic time exploring the field for just the right tree – even Wes attempted to navigate walking the fields!  We take the provided measuring stick, the saw and our looking eyes all over the farm to find the tree perfect for our family. This year we decided, with a kitten in the house, to get a smaller tree that we could put on a table to attempt to defer tree climbing… No such luck, Sneakers loves the Christmas tree inside and out!

Unfortunately, we forgot the number one rule of tree shopping: bring your camera and your photographer! Otherwise, you may end up with cell phone pictures in which your guys are squinting into the sun!

After bringing home the tree comes even more fun! We all take turns putting ornaments on the tree. We lay out ours on the sofa and attempt to pick our favorites first, putting them in the best spots on the tree and then putting the others in the remaining holes.  We’re still working on how to evenly distribute and to place fragile ornaments out of Wes and Sneakers’ reach!

We love making all kinds of traditions with the family, not all of which are about gorging ourselves on dubious food! Most of what makes this time special are the memories we create just by being a family. When the boys grow up, they’ll look back and tell their own families about how much fun it was when mom and dad dragged them out to the tree farm every year to cut down another Christmas tree.

That being said – we also, of course, have to stop to celebrate Aunt Jackie (my middle sister), Papi (my dad) and Papa (my 94 year old grand father) birthdays’ which were this week as well. I love that our home has become a place for our extended family to gather for celebrations.  My sister requested Elana‘s Sunken Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes from this book and the boys wanted a white cake (I made Primal Palate’s coconut cake from this book).  You remember we said we had 6 birthdays between Thanksgiving and New Years, right?  We love how much we get to see family in November and December and are happy to have recipes that our entire family is able to eat – we don’t get sick and our gluten-loving family and friends are happy to have homemade baked goods.

Looking back over years worth of photos for the tree collage has shown me that our family has changed – a lot – but the essentials have remained the same: what we truly love most is spending quality time together.

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