Thursday, December 3, 2009

before (during) and after week - my Christmas tree

Today's Before and After Theme:

Our Christmas Tree.

Okay, TECHNICALLY, this is not OUR Christmas tree. I didn't actually take a picture of our tree before it was decorated because I didn't have the foresight for the before-and-after theme week on this blog. If I HAD taken a picture, it would look a lot like this one, only more real looking and full because this year I bought a new Christmas tree that kicks serious Yule arse in its authenticity, shape and fullness.

These pictures were taken DURING the decorating process. The same morning Grant found the tooth fairy did not indeed stiff him this time around, Gavin awoke to find that mommy had erected the tree the night before while they slept. The boys LOVE decorating the tree, but I do not LOVE their help assembling the tree in preparation for its adornments. They THINK they would love this part, but I know them well enough to know it would NEVER be good enough for Gavin and Grant would start decorating it well before it was ready.

I insist upon listening to Christmas music and drinking Baileys on the rocks hot chocolate during this decorating process. The boys love to hear stories about Christmases past while we do this. They love unwrapping each ornament and hearing the possible story that explains it. This year, Grant had one meltdown when he came across this ornament from 2001. He could not understand why his name would not be on it. I explained that in 2001, this WAS our family. He threatened to break it and went upstairs to his room and cried for a several minutes.

I captured these next two during shots as the boys were busy decorating. I think these two shots could not better describe my boys personalities without their actually being present in the picture.

Each year my mom gets the boys a keepsake Hallmark ornament. Often, they get ornaments from Brian's mom, too or various great aunts and uncles. My mom writes what year from Memaw and Papa on each ornament for the boys to remember whose is whose. They LOVE opening and putting these ornaments on the tree. These are their favorites because they know these ornaments are THEIRS FOR LIFE. I take great care in storing these ornaments in their original packaging (plastic, bubble wrap, box and all) so that when the boys are older, and these ornament go with them some day, they will last, because again, THEIRS FOR LIFE.

The first shot is how Grant opens and cares for his ornament packaging.

The second is Gavin.

After all was said and done, here is our tree:

Some day, I may have a Martha Stuart tree or a themed tree with coordinating colors. For now, it is filled with homemade clay sculptures too heavy for the branch, pieces of paper with doodling on them from the boys preschool years, star wars, scooby doo, spiderman, indiana jones and robots. It is quite perfect. In fact, I will be sad when those Hallmark ornaments go with the boys some day. I will be sad when one branch does not contain 5 ornaments. I will be sad when my ribbon is symmetrical and evenly spaced.

I need to remind myself of that lately.



  1. I love your tree. We have several ornaments that have seen better days - broken, chipped, torn, generally ugly. I can't bring myself to leave any of them off the tree, as if they would get their feelings hurt. They go in the back of the tree against the wall, tucked way in.

  2. I've been following your story a long time..bad commenter, my apologies! But I love your tree and I love that the boys get ornaments that are just for them! It is a tradition that I am definitely going to start! :)

  3. Your tree is lovely! And looks very similar to mine. Even when my kids are grown, I don't think I will ever have a Martha Stewart tree. But I will not miss the fighting that occurred this year while we were decorating it. Why do they fight????

    And I love how the boys are different in regards to the packaging...probably just highlights how different they are in real life!

  4. Your tree looks awesome. I love the ribbons. Very classy!

  5. beautiful tree, beautiful boys, and beautiful reminder to cherish these days when they are young.

    loved the "lined-up" boxes. That cracked me up!

  6. Love the tree! Can't believe you had it up already on Nov. 20th!!!! You are quite the overachiever!

  7. My tree kicks your tree's ass! Same decor, but my tree is 20 years old, with permanent lights that have been cut off. And crooked too!

  8. I love your tree! Looks like we have a lot of the same ornaments, too. Well, not technically the very exact same ones....but the same type! I too, have the CD/picture ornament that I can see on your tree. And the glittered construction paper star, too!

  9. It looks gorgeous and you sound great.

    We give the kids ornaments every year as well. Snow Babies for the girls, Santas for one son and Snowmen for the other son--and we date everything.

  10. My parents did the exact same thing for my sister and me-got us both Hallmark ornaments each year-I love taking them out each year and now putting them on my own christmas tree and reminiscing. I think "kid" trees look way better than themed trees any day. Now the my sister and I are grown my parents retired to a gold themed artificial tree which looks beautiful...but just isn't the same!

  11. Your Christmas tree is wonderful. I like especially the gold ribbon. It makes it really perfect. Decorating of the Christmas tree is I think my most favorite activity in this time of the year. And it seems that you enjoyed it too.

    Have a nice day,

  12. Maggie does NOT like the ornament or two that we have of just Jeff, me and Ellie either! She always gets upset when we get to them and of course, Ellie likes to make a big production out of it. I just don't think they can possibly fathom that the family existed before they did! Love the tree and praying for a good Christmas for all of you!

  13. We have a tree much like yours! Adorned with all the girls' ornaments that they will take with them someday. Course, we have Bill's too that consist of Star Trek, Jean Luk Piccard and Marvin the Martian. I'm thinkin' I'll never have a Martha Stewart tree and that is fine with me! I love "homemade" trees - it helps to make a house a home :} Yours is perfect!

  14. Christmas trees that are too perfect make me uneasy. I think the most beautiful trees show the personalities of the people who decorate them. As much as I struggle with perfectionism, I've never struggled here. I don't WANT a perfect tree, I want one that my family loves.

  15. Every year I look at the beautiful designer trees in the magazines and malls and I wish for one so beautiful. Then I get home and pull out the ornaments that have made my heart sing yearly for over 40 years. That is the most beautiful Christmas song of all. It's the same song you are teaching your boys -- One that they will still hear long after you are gone to be with Brian. It's a beautiful song made up of many, many wonderful before and after memories -- a song that never grows old and, thanks to the love in those old ornaments will never end.