Christmas Traditions Old and New

Even though we’re barely into our second year of marriage, Chris and I have spent several Christmases together already. And I don’t mean I spent a few hours at my house, he a few hours at his, and then we met up later in the day to exchange gifts. No, I mean we really spent Christmas together – I flew all the way to Colorado and spent the holiday with his entire family several years in a row, and I fell in love with them almost as hard as I fell for him.

I quickly grew to adore Christmas in Colorado and even before I was technically part of the family I always felt at home with the Ryders. The snow, the hot wassail, the board games, the laughter, the food – it’s all a warm and cozy combination of the things this Southern California girl thought only happened in movies. I suppose I always knew we wouldn’t be able to spend every Christmas in Colorado, but I was hoping it would be several more years until I had to experience a Christmas without snow again. But, alas, this year Chris and I won’t be making the trek to The Centennial State.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little inconsolable about it at first. After spending most of my life wanting for a snowy Christmas, all my dreams came true the first time I watched snow fall in Colorado and I really didn’t want to give up on that in this lifetime. But, my darling husband talked some sense into me (as he always does), and made me realize that this was the chance for us to start our very own Christmas traditions which will carry on through our lives together and will be remembered fondly by our children. Also! We could finally decorate a Christmas tree together. I was sold.

Since I had to live without snow this year I wanted to make sure every other part of our holiday experience was festive enough that I wouldn’t miss Colorado too much. So I wasted no time and insisted we go out and buy our first tree on Thanksgiving. So, after we stuffed ourselves with turkey at my Dad’s house, we headed out and picked our very first tree. We had prepared for it in the weeks before by picking out decorations. We struggled at first with the look we wanted our tree to have but ultimately decided to just pick out things we like and hope they all sort of come together in a way that makes sense. We’re not really designer people so a designer tree is so not us.

As soon as we got the thing home we realized the only place we could put it is right in front of our fireplace. That was and is sort of a bummer because we look forward to using our fireplace every winter! Unfortunately we have to miss out on that cozy-ness this year, but I’ll make that sacrifice for a tree. Note the stockings hung on the bookcase with care. ;)

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We ended up with what I like to call an “Enchanted Forest” look. It’s what I imagine a Christmas tree in the woods to look like if it had been decorated by the deer, squirrels, rabbits and birds. Obviously a tree in the forest cannot be complete without a crap-ton of owls, so there’s plenty of those on there, which makes me happy. We also have special ornaments sprinkled all over, starting with our “first” ornament that was purchased last year to commemorate our honeymoon in Sydney(1), and a creepy felted tree(5) to commemorate our first tree together. We bought it at UniqueLA and it makes us laugh every time we look at it. There’s also an adorable ceramic owl with our last name stamped into its belly(3),custom-made by JustPuff. I love looking at the sampling of the different owls we decorated the tree with.

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But so far my favorite ornament is one I had made this year to remember our beloved dog by. It’s Frasier as a superhero, and I know it’s an ornament we’re going to remember fondly. I look forward to explaining this ornament to our children and telling them all about the grumpy old dog their mom and dad loved so much. It was made by Jennifer at Itty Bitties For You, and if you like adorable things you should definitely check out her shop.

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And so, even though I’m still disappointed we won’t be in Colorado with the rest of the Ryder clan, I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas with my family this year and starting new Ryder traditions with my husband. Christmas is in ten days! I can hardly believe it.

Please help me make this Christmas even more special by nominating a deserving family for my portrait giveaway. I’ll choose the winner on the 20th and announce them here on Christmas Eve!

  • Corey - Awesome! I'm actually glad we won't have to wait until 2010 to see you guys like "normal." I've always dug how cozy and easily you fit into their lives. :)Here's to fond memories of past traditions, and to new ones, as our families grow.

  • Dorie - yay christmas! last year, john and i couldn't spend christmas eve or day with our families, so we made our own tradition by going to "The Santaland Diaries" and then eating Chinese takeout on our couch and cuddling. It was so fabulous. Then we had friends over on Christmas Day for a meal. It actually turned out quite nicely. This year, we are doing the family thing. But if we're ever stuck here, you can bet Chinese takeout will be involved.

  • Paige + Blake - I think the frightened tree (#5) is my favorite.

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