Normally we have our tree up the first weekend of December. But this year, with busy weekends and homeschool days, it took us a little bit longer. Then, after almost a week of the tree being up with just a few Advent ornaments on it, we finally finished trimming with lights on Saturday. On Friday night we read “The Legend of the Christmas Tree“.

I can’t believe I’ve never read this before! Obviously some parts of the story are most definitely legend (Martin Luther was a monk after all! He didn’t have a family!). But it is still a very touching story, and helped us to appreciate the symbolism of the tree and ornaments – evergreens being a symbol of rebirth; 3 “sides” – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; lights for the light of the world.

Speaking of lights, my husband is the lights man, so we started there with the tree.

Decking the Halls and Trimming the Tree

Some of our Favourite Christmas Family Traditions

Then the inevitable happened – the tree started to tip over, again. I think for the last 3 or 4 years this has been a regular occurrence – the fault of the cheap-o stand we purchased. So The Man zipped out to pick up a MUCH better tree stand (although I was sort of hoping we could just get a fake tree for next year, I’m ok with continuing with a real one – for now :D).

Once the lights were up it was all hands on deck for the ornaments!

Normally we have a pretty simple display of ornaments – our Starbucks ones we’ve collected over the years, some PLASTIC balls (seriously, when it’s on the tree, you really can’t tell the difference between glass or plastic, so why fret about them breaking :D), a few other fun ones here and there.

But this year we decided, with doing Truth in the Tinsel, that we would pull back from other ornaments and focus mainly on our Advent symbols. With 3 kids doing the craft almost every day, that adds up to close to 75 ornaments just there! Wow.

The kids helped set up our Willowtree nativity. So far, in 3 years of doing it, we’ve only managed to break 1 piece – and it was easily fixed, thanks to daddy!

I reminded them that even though the wisemen weren’t actually there at Jesus’ birth, we still put them in as a part of it because they were the first to anoint the King of Kings.

I purchased a little wooden nativity set on sale at Superstore, knowing they were going to want to play with this one – but with 3 kids, I knew disaster would occur.

They are loving their own set too – although The Boy insists on keeping it set up, we’ll see how long that lasts with his brother and sister around.

This cabinet doubles as my “mantel”. That is the one thing that I wish we could have in this house, since I can’t hang stockings from it (it’s our school cupboard in the living room – surprise!). But it is still fun to decorate for each season. I had wanted to try one of the MANY tree-cone ideas, but ran out of time and ended up finding these candles on sale, so I bought them instead.

No mantel means hanging our stockings elsewhere – and the curvature of the stairs is the perfect place!

The hard part is keeping the kids from peaking into them when they come down the stairs – so we leave them mostly empty until Christmas night.

Here are a few other shots of some of the decor around our house.

The piano was going to be reserved for our Advent calendar I made last year. But after 3 weeks, I STILL cannot find it! I had these “Joy” and “Believe” signs I painted up for a while, then moved them to the kitchen and put this “Deck the Halls” photo up instead.

Glittery lightbulbs and Christmas Joy printable on the front hall table – that table used to be in my parents’ house, it’s older than me ;)

Candy Jar, easily accessible for when guests come over. SO FAR the kids have been good about keeping out of it.

Bathroom counter – because it has to look Christmas-y too!

This photo made me laugh. Am I the only one who decorates the back of the toilet? Weird or not?

We let the kids have some decorations in their room. Keeker is THRILLED with her stars in the window (2 hour timer so they turn off and won’t keep her awake!).

 This Santa music box was a gift from The Man’s aunt one year.

The boys have a small fake tree and a lit one in their room – the lit one does NOT stay on very long though as it is really quite bright and they take forever to get to sleep with it on.

I have really wanted our family to have some traditions we can count on, especially this time of year, and the best way for that to happen is really for us to just do it! Since we don’t go and cut our own tree, we have gone the first weekend of December with my parents and siblings to help them cut their own down. Then we head back to their house for brunch and a good visit together. Sometime later we pick up our own tree and decorate together.

This year we couldn’t go, so we decided to set some of our own traditions for tree trimming and hall decking day. It is just a few, basic ideas, but something we can count on doing each year together. Reading about the history of the Christmas tree, significance and meaning behind the symbols on it the night before.

Waffles for breakfast, hot chocolate and ginger cookies in the afternoon. Watching a Christmas movie (this year it was Veggie Tales’ “The Little Drummer Boy” – very cute! So was Keeker after as she was inspired).

Pizza for dinner.

Reading about the significance of the stockings and who exactly St. Nick is. And hopefully no tree tipping :D

How about you? What are some of your favourite family Christmas traditions?

P.S. Our tree fell down again this morning. Nothing like waking up to a crashing tree at 4:40 in the morning.