When I was a kid we had lots of traditions at Christmas. As a family we’d always pile into the car and drive out to the country to cut our own Christmas tree. I remember my dad in his Viking’s purple snowsuit laying on the ground sawing at the trunk. He’d be all underneath the bottom bows of the tree, shaking back and forth with the sawing motion. He did this thing with his tongue when he concentrated or did labor: he stuck it to the side of his mouth and bit down on it. You could see the lump of it in his cheek.
My memories of cutting down the tree are so classic and vivid. Even when we go to take Brynn I feel like that same little girl going out with her own mom, dad and sister. Cider. Hot chocolate. Christmas crafts. A warming house.
We didn’t usually have one day that we went – like the day after Thanksgiving. But it would be some December weekend. Knowing my parents it was probably a little late. But it was ok because then we’d just leave the tree up into deep January. I remember decorating it. One by one. With the humble, unique collection of ornaments we’d collected over the years. Including the many from the Kanuits. And the years of our birth. We’d always hang colorful lights and never had a theme. Religiously, the Christmas tree lights glowed each night in our house. All the others turned off. Except maybe the piano light. I know we sat and just looked at it together. Taking in the moment. Not letting it pass us by. The way my dad revels things like that.
This year, today we took down the tree after Christmas 2016. Brynn is two and a half and I can’t help but feel so sad to see Christmas go. Another one behind us. It is no guarantee how many we will have. And I find it hard to believe that me, Justin and Brynn could have had a more precious one than this year. She really got it this year which was a big first for all of us. Santa, presents, meal time, the story of Joseph and Mary, Jesus, Bethlehem. Some Christmas carols. Cookies and treats. Time with grandparents, and aunts and uncles. For the first time in my life, I really valued cementing my own traditions. Tree up after Thanksgiving. Grandma’s cookies. Christmas movies. A lot more yet to fold in.
We even got to drive by Nickerson this weekend on our way home from Duluth. Nickerson is where my family cabin is. A cabin bought by my grandpa and grandma and two other couples in I’d guess the 60s. Now my dad, his brothers, and the kids of those other couples share it. It’s a snowmobiling cabin where I have many, wild memories of being in the woods, out with the guys (and the gals) in snowsuits, tinkering with machines, taking day trips, hanging out in snowmobiling bars. For a little girl growing up in Minnesota in the 80s and 90s -the most vivid memories. I’ll have to write more about that later. I wonder what other traditions and memories are in store for us this winter. (A big one is Rachel’s wedding!) And all our winters to come.