We’ve started a Christmas tradition. This December was its third incarnation. The Getting of the Christmas Tree. This year, Hubs named it Christmas Tree Festivus. And so it shall be known, from here on in. On Monday 2nd December we went with two other families (Bec C’s being one of them) to the Burrell Creek Christmas Tree Farm and collected our Christmas trees.
About this time last year, the Christmas Tree Farm was hit by a severe hail storm and many of their trees suffered significant damage. So much so that there will be no trees available for Christmas 2014. What will become of our fledging tradition? The rows and rows of tiny trees will be ready for cutting in Christmas 2015. Relying on the weather, or lack thereof, for your livelihood can be tough.
The Christmas Tree Farm has acres and acres of trees planted in neat, long rows. Everyone piles onto the back of a large flatbed trailer and the owner of the farm drives his tractor through the paddocks, excited customers bouncing up and down and hanging on tightly behind. Because of the limited stock this year, our three trees had already been tagged. In previous years, we’ve wandered the rows hand-picking our favourite tree to take home with us.
The boys, 6 of them between us (including Jones) had a ball, running, yelling and laughing. Jones did more barking and panting than yelling and laughing, but had a fantastic time nonetheless.
Once we’d loaded the trees into the back of our ute, we said good-bye to the Christmas Tree Farm and headed back to Bec C’s for the Festivus dinner. The kids all ran around getting dirty and hot while we cooked the meat on the BBQ and made salads. Paul picked some of Bec’s bountiful tarragon out of her vegie patch and whipped up some Bearnaise Sauce to go with the meat. SO delicious. And then we sat down to a beautiful meal of food and wine and celebrated the beginning of the Christmas season.
The next morning, before pre-school, we erected our tree and The Kid insisted on decorating it then and there. He couldn’t wait until the afternoon. He donned his Christmas hat and set to work. Despite the lack of choice this year we are all really happy with our trees. They all exude that wonderful fresh Christmas Tree smell and with some clever pruning following the hail storm, their shapes are still pretty perfect.
We pulled out all the decorations, including the Christmas stockings that Bec mentioned in her recent post. The Kid’s is hanging on his bedroom door handle, full of hope, and Jones’ on the fire near the tree. Yes, Jenny makes stockings for your canine children too! She is indeed a gem.
We also strung up our new Advent Calendar. I made one this year. First time ever. I thought it would be a tad more exciting than just opening the little flip doors on the cardboard version we’ve had for a few years now. I raided the washing line for wooden pegs; bought some ribbon and a few packets of little fabric drawstring bags at a $2 shop, some silver fabric paint from Spotlight; and I painted each bag with a number from 1 to 25. I know you’re meant to stop at 24 but I decided to have one for Christmas Day too.
To fill the bags, I gathered some treats: silver and gold chocolate coins, locally made Christmas themed gingerbreads (Petra sells her gingerbread at our local Farmers’ Market), a couple of lollies and some tea lights (OK, I was getting desperate). I also picked some herbs for other days: lavender, rosemary, thyme, chive flowers and parsley. Inspired by The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Fiffenbaugh’s novel which we read in our Book Club this year), I stuffed the bag for the 25th December with the parsley. Parsley for Festivity. (Just as an aside, there are so many different and conflicting versions of the Language of Flowers dictionary that I think you could quote any meaning you like and you’d get away with it). The herb surprises have somewhat disappointed The Kid. He doesn’t see the point. This morning it was a tea light. He was pretty unimpressed with that too.
For a couple of the bags I asked The Kid to find some treats or treasures that he thought we might like to receive. For Dad, he made a little Lego creation and for me it was a giggling Smurf hiding in a little snap lock container. I’m trying to teach him that Christmas is not just about receiving, but the joy of giving too. The day Daddy opened the Lego bag, The Kid was excited initially but as it dawned on him that Daddy was getting the treat, not him, his face fell and he whined “But that’s not fair”. I think we’ve got a fair way to go.
What Christmas family traditions do you have? And what about an Advent Calendar, have you got one? I’d love to hear some ideas of treats and treasures you include in yours. A girlfriend was telling me the other day that hers is like a treasure hunt. The kids pull out a clue that they have to read and it directs them to a surprise. Perhaps an idea for next year? If I start now, I might just have 25 sets of clues ready in time.