O’ Christmas Trees

Before our wedding, my cousins hosted an ornament shower in my honor.  I received a gorgeous collection of ornaments reflecting the love of our friends and family.  George and I bought a lovely prelit tree for our apartment and it was bursting with gifted ornaments. The tree was the perfect size for our cozy apartment.  We moved that tree to our first house, and then to our next house. Our perfect little tree somehow seemed dwarfed in a house with a larger den and higher ceilings.  Nonetheless, our tree adorned with ribbon and ornaments and looked pretty.

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Last year the lights finally stopped working so we added strands of lights and pined for a taller prelit tree.  Before decorating this year, we snagged a nine foot slim tree on black Friday. The new tree has a very small footprint in the den so we have plenty of space and it draws the eye all the way up to the ceiling.  This tree is filled primarily with shatterproof ornaments since it’s in our main living area and the kids helped decorate it.  Despite being kid friendly, I think it’s gorgeous!

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Since our original tree was in decent condition, moved it to the front room so there’d be a tree in the window.  We had plenty of heirloom and handmade ornaments to fill this tree and it serves as a Christmas card display.  I really appreciate receiving Christmas cards and each year try to find a new way to display them.  I think this is my favorite so far.  The kids often slip into the study to admire the ornaments and to check out the cards.  They especially like seeing the ornaments with their tiny baby handprints on them and others they painted.

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In addition to our large trees, the kids have miniature trees in their rooms.  The girls chose a sparkling pink tree, while the boys inherited my old silver one with vintage ornaments from my childhood.  All four kids took great pride in filling their own trees and have not bothered them since we finished decorating.  A year ago, the boys’ tree would have been pulverized, but this year they enjoy looking at it and showing it to house guests.  It’s amazing the difference a year makes.

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How many Christmas trees do you have?

 

hugs!

 

Amber


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Christmas Traditions, Old & New

Each year, the week of Thanksgiving, George and I put our Christmas tree up as our favorite Christmas movies play in the background.  This year the quads were too small to help, so we worked under the cover of darkness.  The next day, they had a special screening of Baby Einstein’s Baby Santas, however.  I imagine Christmas tree decorating as being a fun family activity for years to come, especially when our “kid tree” fills with more family creations and treasures.

My mom found this beautiful wide mesh ribbon for our tree and mantle.  It did such a lovely job of filling our tree.  In fact, we used about 50% fewer ornaments than usual (nice time saver around here!).  We typically decorate our mantle with garland laced in shimmery ribbon and white lights.  However, we knew that would be a danger this year.  Eight little hands would undoubtedly unplug the lights and yank the garland.

George and I spent the last year debating about how to enjoy a Christmas tree in the den, while keeping it safe for toddlers.  We ended up placing it atop our round coffee table so it's too high for them to tip.  The lowest branches are void of ornaments and all other low hanging ornaments are plastic, shatter proof and hook free.  Each of the quads has grasped a branch, but they really don't bother it much.

George and I spent the last year debating about how to enjoy a Christmas tree in the den, while keeping it safe for toddlers. We ended up placing it atop our round coffee table so it’s too high for them to tip. What’s really neat is that I remember my grandmother putting her tree on this same table so actually it’s an old family tradition.  The lowest branches are void of ornaments and all other low hanging ornaments are plastic, shatter proof, and hook free. Each of the quads has grasped a branch and grabbed a few ornaments, but they really don’t bother it much especially as the novelty wears away.

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I never would have imagined having this many stockings adorning our mantle, but it’s a beautiful sight. One bitter cold evening this week, George bravely built a fire and the quads obediently stayed away from the “hot”. They all know the baby sign for “hot” and heed our warnings.

In order to hang so many stockings, and "quad proof" them, we used a curtain rod and three industrial clamps.  The quads have done well with using their eyes to see and not touching, but the rod is really strong if they ever pull one.

In order to hang so many stockings, and “quad proof” them, we used a curtain rod and three industrial clamps. The quads have done well with using their eyes to see and not touching, but the rod is really strong if they ever pull one.

Once our den is transformed into a cozy Christmas scape, it’s time for cookies and popcorn.  The first Christmas we spent in our house, our neighbors generously delivered the most delicious sugar cookies we ever tasted.   At first they taunted us saying it was a “secret family recipe”, but in time they shared it with us and it’s now a family favorite here.

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I think the secret to this recipe is the heavy cream, it adds a nice richness to the flavor and it softens the texture.  This recipe yields four dozen, but I took my sweet time snapping a picture of them, and only six mini cookies remained three days after we baked them.  Also, the frosting never made it onto this batch of cookies because they were devoured too soon!

As a child, my grandmother mailed us an Advent calendar filled with chocolates, marking down the days until Christmas Day.   I remember anxiously waiting for its arrival, and then trying to figure out whether my sister or I would get to eat the first morsel (each day had one chocolate inside so we took turns).  Chocolate filled Advent calendars are rare these days, but every now and then I spy one while shopping and remember the joy they brought to our family long ago.  Several years ago, I found a beautiful mirrored Advent calendar at Target.  It has large openings covered with miniature doors for each day.  Prior to having our own children, George and I filled it for each other.  Sometimes we put little chocolates inside, and sometimes little notes to each other.  This year, we filled it with M & M’s for the quads to enjoy.  As they get older and better understand the concept, we will probably add small gifts or notes to the boxes.

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This year was our first year to adopt an Elf on the Shelf.  While the tradition has become extremely popular in the last few years, George wanted to partake in that tradition long before we even had thoughts of children on our minds.  We met our first Elf on the Shelf at my cousin’s house.  We noticed him dangling from their chandelier as we enjoyed dinner together.   She explained that it was their family’s Elf sent from Santa to monitor the children’s behavior and report back to Santa.  Every Christmas thereafter, George would mention adopting an Elf on the Shelf, and this year was prime time for it.  Since adopting our Elf, we read the story to the quads and Rylin named him, “Bop”, which they all say.  Although the Elf on the Shelf isn’t supposed to report to your home until December 1st, ours arrived a little early and has been keeping the quads in check.  Every morning we ask them were Bop is and they set out looking.  He stays in plain sight so it doesn’t usually take them long to spot him and begin pointing ferociously at him.

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Last year, when Santa stopped by for a surprise visit, I HAD to make sure the babies were dressed in cozy Christmas pajamas so a new family tradition was born.   I found these a little early, and have been dressing the quads in them a few weeks already to get as much wear as possible.  If they don’t outgrow them, they may wear them until Valentine’s Day!

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Sydney is the best snuggle bunny!  I sometimes wish I could snuggle her all day long.

Sydney is the best snuggle bunny! I sometimes wish I could snuggle her all day long.

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Perhaps the most important Christmas tradition of all is the nativity scene.  After all, it is the point of Christmas in the first place.  Our nativity is the same Fontanini one my family used as a child.  My mother passed it down to me when I went off to college and lived in my first apartment.  There is actually a really great story behind this nativity, but that’s a whole new post!

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What traditions does your family hold close to it’s heart?

Hugs,

Amber