The sentimental-ist in me is big on family traditions, and now that we’ve added a kid to the mix, I’m even more intent on maintaining certain annual rituals.  Our yearly trek out to North Bend to cut down our Christmas tree tops the list of favorite Schnell family traditions, so on Friday we donned our warmest winter clothing and headed east for our eighth (!) visit to Mountain Creek tree farm.  I still remember our first time there back in 2006, when we were newlyweds giddily buying our inaugural Christmas tree as a couple.  The woman behind the counter asked as we paid if we had any kids that would like a candy cane.  We both laughed and told her “No, thanks”, unable to imagine how a child would fit into the fancy-free life we lived in our small Capitol Hill apartment.  That same woman has asked us that same question every single year, as our nervous “No thank you’s” slowly morphed into anticipatory “Maybe next year’s” and then into pained “Still not yet’s”.  And now, here we are, in the midst of below-freezing weather with a child that often throws fits in the car, but dammit, I wanted a candy cane, so off we went!

Juliette fell asleep within minutes of hitting the road and opened her sleepy eyes just as we rolled into the parking lot.  Shane and I bundled her up, crossed our fingers, and set out in search of the perfect tree.  Usually this search takes a good 30-45 minutes, as I insist that we wander the entire farm to get a complete sense of our options.  I’ll narrow it down to three or four contenders, circling each tree several times to evaluate symmetry and fullness before making a final decision.  But once we stepped out of the car on Friday, felt the cold, and heard Juliette’s little whimpers, we were on a mission.  Fifteen seconds into our search, I pointed to a tree that I said I liked, and as I was turning to find the best angle from which to snap a photo, Shane was already hacking away at it’s trunk and slinging it over his shoulder.  I didn’t even have time to yell “timmmmmber!”.  Jules and I hung out by the wood stove in the front shop while Shane tied the tree to our car; he joined us for a quick cup of cider and then we were back on the road in record time (candy cane in hand!).

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Thankfully, despite our impulsiveness, this tree is a beaut and looks great in our living room.  I unwrapped my ornaments yesterday while Juliette sat in my lap and I told her about the plastic snowflake I’ve been hanging on Christmas trees for over 25 years, about my collection of angel ornaments, about the beaded green bird I bought in Portland with my mom a few years ago.  I’ll be carrying on the tradition my parents started by giving my own daughter an ornament every year, and as I hung her pretty glass owl on the tree, I pictured Christmas next year, when we’ll have to hang these breakable ornaments high and out of reach of toddler hands, and Christmas a few years from now, when Jules will start to look forward to opening up her box of familiar ornaments to hang on the tree, and Christmas a couple of decades down the road, when I’ll hand over Juliette’s collection to hang on her own tree.  I guess that’s what I love about traditions – the way they bring forth good memories of years prior and anticipation of years future.  Happy holidays, indeed.

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One Comment

  1. Donna J. says:

    Well, I guess we did have a family tradition or two after all. Juliette will enjoy many Schnell traditions no doubt. See you Wednesday! ~Mom