Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Traditions

It's definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house, and I love it! 

Much to Kyle's chagrin, I would listen to Christmas music all year round. From my very favorite, John Denver and the Muppets to Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and a new hit, Straight No Chaser, I would sing along in every room of our house.  But most years I wait until Thanksgiving is over before I begin.

Grace with her Elf on the Shelf. You can see our nativity scene in the background.
And that's usually about when we start decorating the house. It's kind of funny, blending a variety of holiday traditions. Kyle's family likes live trees, while mine mostly used artificial. 

Kyle and Grace getting ready to set up the tree!
Kyle and Grace hanging up our new ornament from Hawaii, the first one on the tree!
 The very first year we were married, we lived in an apartment, and just didn't make time to decorate the small, artificial tree I had for several years. One night, I just broke down in tears that we didn't have a tree. And Kyle came home with what's lovingly become known as the Christmas shrub, where we could hang a few "Our First Christmas Together" ornaments. Although it didn't make it out this year, it usually sits right by the front door of our house as a reminder of that first Christmas together.

Family selfie in front of the Christmas tree.
Since them, we have had both live and artificial trees. Although the last time the live tree fell over, we made the switch to artificial, and actually use Kyle's grandma's old Christmas tree, which is a nice tradition itself.

We both grew up with lots of ornaments, but our tree seems to be full of ornaments we have gotten together. From our first Christmas to the blown glass heart we brought home from our honeymoon in Italy to the pirate ship I gave Kyle one year, our Christmas tree tells our story, and that's what makes it so much fun to put up.  Grace even has quite the collection of ornaments.

Some of my favorite decorations are the ones on the piano that Grace has made (like her handprint plate).
I think this is the first year we haven't fought putting up the tree either.  Maybe we are getting older and wiser, or maybe we are starting to figure out the things that really matter. It doesn't matter if the lights are strung just so or how the branches are fluffed. What matters is the love in the story that it tells.

I was really proud of how quickly we got our Christmas tree up this year. That being said, we have few other Christmas decorations around the house. Not that I don't have boxes of them in the basement, but we just haven't made the time to get them all out.  Our stockings are hung carefully in the living room, including the awesome new photo stocking Andrea Ruppert had made for Grace.  We love it!

We love reading Christmas books!
One thing I made sure to get up this year is our nativity set. One of the first gifts Kyle's parents gave me was the starter set to a Willow Tree nativity, and they add a new piece each year. This year, it managed to take two shelves of the bookcase, and it helps me remember the reason for the season.  I can still remember helping mom to set up her wooden nativity set each year as we decorated for Christmas and sharing the story together.  Grace and I play with her Little People nativity and talk about Jesus's birthday.  She likes the angel that sings the best.

Another holiday tradition that's making its second appearance at our house this year is the Elf on the Shelf.  That's not something either Kyle or I had growing up, but my mom got one for Grace, and we have had a lot of fun with it too. We don't always remember to move him every night, but Grace sure likes to snuggle with him.

The Elf on the Shelf has become a fun, family tradition.
Our outside lights didn't make it up this year, although I'm still hopeful to get our inflatable Mickey and Minnie set up in the front yard. But I'm okay with that. There would have been times in the not-so-distant past, I would have worried about when we got our lights up, how the decorations looked or even how much we got out. Now, it's about remembering why we gather together for the season.

The last few nights, I have rocked Grace to sleep in the living room where we can both see the brightly colored lights on the Christmas tree. I sing some of my favorite Christmas carols and she just watches the lights. It's become a new favorite tradition, one that I hope we can celebrate for many years to come.

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