"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind." ~Mary Ellen Chase
The month of December has always been my favorite month. I think it's quite fitting and proof that God really does know us well from the minute he knits us together - that I was a December baby. One week before Christmas to be exact. An early gift for my mom and Dad - my mom, who also is a December baby - and my dad - who is the real-life version of Clark Griswold, himself. (But slightly less crazy). ;)
I sure do love Christmas Eve and Christmas day but it's the weeks leading up to the finale that have always held the charm for me. I can remember as a little girl, keeping an eye on that calendar, counting down the weeks until the tree would go up. Always Thanksgiving weekend. Always before the Noonans did theirs across the street. It was a competition that I don't think we ever lost. I remember my dad stringing as many lights as possible on the outside of our house - always colored lights. I remember the red stockings hanging from the mantle of our real wood-burning brick fireplace, the quilted teddybear countdown hanging from the wall in the living room, and that we always got a new Hallmark ornament every single year. I remember I was allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve but the rest was always saved for Christmas day so that we could stretch out the excitement as long as possible. And one of my favorite traditions when it comes to gift opening: we open one present at a time - one person at a time. Sure, it makes gift opening take hours, but it is savored and enjoyed, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
And now as a mom, the traditions created by my parents and grandparents - and the traditions we have created in our own home - are sacred. I know how valuable memories and traditions are in shaping a person's heart and spirit as they grow. And the season of Christmas - the love of December and advent and giving and lights and surprises - is all as much a part of our own little home as it was for me growing up. When it comes to Christmas time, I have definitely not joined the minimalist trend. A tree in every room? Yes please. Twinkle lights everywhere there's an outlet? Absolutely. ANOTHER candle on sale to help the house smell like Santa's cookies? Can't have too many.
But one of the things I have learned through the years of managing my own home and our own holiday season is that it definitely helps to spread out the decorating! Rather than try to pack all the pumpkins away on the same day that we put up the trees, and rather than try to put all the trees up in a single morning, it's so nice to graze at it a bit. One tree here one day, another tree there the next, a few more lights a week or so later, a wreath on the door when I have time. And so last year, when I decided each boy of ours should have his own Charlie Brown tree in his room, we started the tradition of putting up their trees the week leading up to Thanksgiving. It's more relaxed, allows more time to enjoy the ornament hanging process in each of their bedrooms, and allows them to enjoy their cozy rooms with their cute little colorful trees for longer than just the month of December.
And so the Saturday before Thanksgiving, that's what we did. We placed each tree in its designated corner of their bedrooms, strung the colorful lights, hung the ornament balls, placed the stars at the top, and reminisced over their "special" ornaments from previous years.
And this year was extra special because we got to hang their Disney World ornaments.
We only have one rule when it comes to picking out a new ornament every year. It has to tell the story of who they were and what they liked or did in the past 12 months.
I absolutely love how cozy their rooms feel at night with their little trees lit.