A Christmas Tree

a christmas tree Monday, December 1st, we drove to the Blodgett Tree Farm and picked out our best tree yet!

A beautiful foggy morning of course

An old rustic saw, four hands, a lot of cheering later, and we had our $5 tree packed into Brett's truck. Praise Jesus for church community, because we don't have a truck and people in our church do...so therefore we share.

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Loren and I went home and decorated our lovely small space our hearts claim as home. (Simple decor for small spaces). We trimmed a sliver of the trunk off to make an ornament out of. Somewhere we lost our tree skirt. So I walked my body over  to Jo Anne's and purchased some plaid fabric to drape around the bottom -- this idea was most definitely inspired by my neighbor and friend, Kiley.

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Growing up, I always planned on having classic, color themed, trees of "perfection." We had crazy trees growing up, overwhelmed with ornaments of shapes, sizes, and colors galore. They were crazy and I always wondered what was so wonderful about them. I always told myself I would not have a crazy tree, but one of class and order and theme.

HA.

What I did not know was the love of each handmade ornament and what it meant for our family. That each cotton ball glued to popsicle sticks symbolized hard work, creativity, and a thought out process.

Now that I have grown a bit more and have our own trees to decorate, I love the home made ornaments. In fact, the one of Ari made me cry when we got it in the mail...she is TOO cute. We don't have kids who bring a plethora of them home, so our tree features our niece's faces and homemade ornaments.

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We also have 3 Starbucks cups from a student, Kyle. He gives us them every year - we were wondering if he realized he did that? We will see this year.

I read this post the other day about trees and how they are what we make them. But how life is also what we make it. I have been in and out of a funk (can funks last for more than a year?) so her words were a gentle nudge in the right direction. That when I am bummed and when I am looking down instead of out and up, I am making the conscious choice to stay in that place of funky-selfishness. And though I know these things, and knowing these things doesn't actually seem to help but make me feel worse, it doesn't always make it easier. But each time I have looked at our tree this week, I was reminded of that. I was reminded that instead of just staring upon it with exhausted and burning eyes, a slumping heart, I can look at our tree and be blessed by it. I can be reminded that it is a symbol of cheer, of merriness, of generosity. It is a symbol of joy, to me.

I love planning a day to drive out into the woods with a saw and my husband, pick a tree that won't fit in our tiny apartment but we make it anyways. I love watching Loren saw it to its last strand of tree bark, tipping it over and dragging its furry self to the truck. I love dreaming of bringing our kids out to do this, sipping hot chocolate, and maybe finding snow to sled in.

I know a handful of people who are skipping the Christmas decorating - they have great reasons that work for them. But for me, my soul would slouch. The mere act of bringing Christmas into our home makes my heart joyful. It isn't just for December 25th that I put these things out to enjoy; it is for the entire duration of their stay. It is the atmosphere that red, glittery gold, and green bring. Every time you look at your tree, be reminded with me: this is a simple green tree that you chopped down and literally put in your home. [Which is really weird.] But the symbol is that we are bringing life and merriness and cheer into our homes. We are bringing extra light and color and joy into our homes. I now see the love and the thought in the hand made ornaments; not the tacky crap that is glued together.

Christmas and traditions and our home are what we make them.

Our attitudes are what we choose them to be. Free or imprisoned.