Mike laughs at me about all this Christmas stuff, but it is so important to me. Some of my best memories of childhood have Christmas at the center. Everyone would gather at my parents’ house – my grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins. We’d open presents and eat all day and laugh. There was so much laughing…I can still hear it when I close my eyes and listen.

I want this for Annie. I told Mike long before we were even married that one of the things I wanted most in life was a house where I could start Christmas traditions for my family. At almost two, I know Annie is too young to understand exactly what we’re doing or what all of it means, but she is definitely old enough to understand family and laughter and love.

Our Christmas tree is artificial. When I was a teenager, my parents got a fake tree and my brother and I took it personally. They were cutting out one of our favorite traditions – picking out a Christmas tree! Now that I’m an adult I get that an artificial tree is practical for a zillion reasons, and that’s why we have one. But, as we were buying the fake tree I told Mike that every year our kids would still go pick out a tiny, real tree.

Over the weekend we took Annie to a local lot. The air at a Christmas tree lot is special. The chill and the smell of pine transported me back to my childhood. I remembered running amongst the trees, playing hide and seek with my brother.

Picking out the Annie Tree

Annie was more like, “um, there are trees in the Bank of America parking lot…this is weird.” But eventually she was skipping around, pointing at trees.

Picking out the Annie Tree

We got the tree home and set it in our family room. I had some purple lights and a few purple and silver ornaments. Annie has been my shadow lately, so she was excited to help me.

Decorating the Annie Tree

Annie would place the ribbons, and then I’d tie them on the branches.

Decorating the Annie Tree

Then it came time to place the ornaments. I suggested she move around the tree, but she had her own ideas. They all ended up in the same general vicinity. It looks great.

Decorating the Annie Tree

She sat by the tree for an hour, playing with Cinderella figurines, making them dance under the lights.

The Annie Tree

I sat there watching my little spark, hoping that she would always remember this feeling…

hugging mama

…knowing that I always would.