In which there are Christmas traditions

We’re such a new little family (even though in about two weeks we’ll mark our 10 year dating anniversary), that we’re still establishing Christmas traditions. One of my favorites so far is where on Christmas Eve we exchange ornaments that are indicative of the year’s adventures:

Step one for ornament exchange: Pick out tree. We almost didn't get a live tree this year with finals and end of the year stuff cramping up my scheduled, but Jeff insisted and I'm so glad we did.

Step one for ornament exchange: Pick out tree. We almost didn’t get a live tree this year with finals and end of the year stuff cramping up my scheduled, but Jeff insisted and I’m so glad we did. The smell has been heavenly.

Step two: Tie to the Jeep. (Step two and a half: Remember that you left most of the bungee cords in your bin in storage and pray that the two you brought will do the trick).

Step two: Tie tree to the top of the loyal Jeep. (Step two and a half: Remember that you left most of the bungee cords in your bin in storage and pray that the two you brought will do the trick. Consult with stranger parked next to you and get his vote of confidence).

Step three: Trim the tree while eating traditional Christmas nachos (we used to makes these all the time when Jeff was in law school and we saw each other on the weekends. Plus the red and green make them quite festive). Another tradition: Listening to the web broadcast of This American Life's episode with David Sedaris's Santaland Diaries.

Step three: Trim the tree while eating traditional Christmas nachos (we used to makes these all the time when Jeff was in law school and we saw each other on the weekends. Plus the red and green make them quite festive). Another tradition: Listening to the web broadcast of the This American Life’s episode with David Sedaris’s Santaland Diaries.

Last year Jeff gave me this handcrafted tin crab from when we went crabbing with our dear friends Bri and Ian up in the San Juans.

Last year Jeff gave me this handcrafted tin crab from when we went crabbing with our dear friends Bri and Ian up in the San Juans.

It's nice to be reminded of the fun trip!

It’s nice to be reminded of the fun trip!

My ornament last year for Jeff.

My ornament last year for Jeff.

Merry First Christmas :) With a picture of our first dance at the wedding.

Merry First Christmas 馃檪 With a picture of our first dance at the wedding.

This year, to commemorate our first full year in the Pacific Northwest Jeff gave me a hand blown blue and green glass raindrop ornament from a local Seattle artist. This is one of the biggest glass blowing regions of the world and some ash from Mount St. Helens is included in this piece.

This year, to commemorate our first full year in the Pacific Northwest Jeff gave me a hand blown blue and green glass raindrop ornament from a local Seattle artist. This is one of the biggest glass blowing regions of the world and some ash from Mount St. Helens is included in this piece.

I bought this glass piece and etched an outline of the Burning Man symbol on it with the year to commemorate our trip this summer.

I bought this glass piece and etched an outline of the Burning Man symbol on it with the year to commemorate our trip this summer.

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This year some friends introduced us to a street called Candy Cane Lane where all the houses deck out in great Christmas lights. (Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures)

This year some friends introduced us to a street called Candy Cane Lane where all the houses get together and agree to deck themselves out in great Christmas lights. (Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures: night + iPhone camera = not great, but you get the idea)

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We Try to watch 12 Christmas movies every year. So far we've made it through Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, Home Alone, White Christmas and currently as I write, A Christmas Story.

We try to watch 12 Christmas movies every year. So far we’ve made it through Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, Home Alone, White Christmas and currently as I write, A Christmas Story, so halfway there. As we ate traditional barbecue pork and watched White Christmas last night, the scenes with the troops celebrating Christmas in a war zone 聽overseas hit particularly close to home.聽

My little brother Graham is currently serving in Afghanistan (he's the second from the right). Here's hoping there's a Christmas miracle and they can all come home soon.

My little brother Graham is currently serving in Afghanistan (he’s the second from the right with the present on his gun). Here’s hoping there’s a Christmas miracle that they can all come home soon.

It's no secret that I love Christmas cards. I remember stuffing envelops as a kid and sitting for what seemed like ages for the perfect shot where all three of us were looking at the camera. It was the '90s so there was a lot of hairspray involved.  This wall has sent us love from Rachie, the Kirks, the Plues, the Pecks (Virginia), the Pecks (Memphis), the Watsons, the Smiths, the Seals, the Lanes, the Reeses and the Fowlers.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite traditions is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I remember stuffing envelops as a kid and sitting for what seemed like ages for the perfect shot where all three of us were looking at the camera. It was the ’90s so there was a lot of hairspray involved.
This wall has sent us love from Rachie, the Kirks, the Duffs, the Pecks (Virginia), the Pecks (Memphis), the Watsons, the Smiths, the Seals, the Lanes, the Reeses and the Fowlers.

And love from the Balestrinos, Baileys, Fitzpatricks, Moores, Friars, Russos, Plues and Aunt Doris.

And love from the Balestrinos, Baileys, Fitzpatricks, Moores, Friars, Russos, Plues and Aunt Doris.

We may not have a real fireplace, but the Yule Log movie on Netflix made a nice replacement.

We may not have a real fireplace, but the Yule Log movie on Netflix made a nice replacement.

Though it’s probably more applicable to Thanksgiving than to Christmas, I’ve had the carol聽For the Beauty of the Earth聽perpetually stuck in my head this season:

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.聽

We’re so thankful for such a great year, for such wonderful friends and family (near and far) and for the promise of a brand new year. From us to you: Merriest Christmas!

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In which we get our first Christmas tree!

Jeff and I have certainly spent some Christmases together, but this is our first married Christmas so we’re trying out a bunch of fun new things to see if they will become “our” traditions. First on the list: picking out and cutting down a Christmas tree ourselves. Live trees are something we both had when we were younger – before artificial trees looked decent enough and before our parents had lost the extra large amount enthusiasm required to care for a seven foot tall house plant in the midst of an already crazy season. Our family took it even one step further and for a few years had live trees with the roots in a ball at the bottom to replant later on in the yard. Between my little brother’s asthma necessitating less allergens and Jeff’s cats climbing all up in and knocking over his, neither of us has had an actual tree in a decade or two.

But this year we are young and crazy enough to think it’s a great idea.

On Bri’s family’s advice we schlepped up to Paterson’s Lazy Acres Tree Farm in Arlington, WA. I was hoping for snow like their website’s picture, but we settled for a fair amount of rain instead. Bonus points though: they had free cider and a tree bagging service!

We searched through the entire farm for the perfect one. This is not a perfect one. This is what Charlie Brown would pick.

This is a good one!

I told Jeff it didn’t count unless we chopped it down ourselves

Tree successfully procured!

After we got it home it was time to decorate! New tradition #2: Trimming the tree with a bottle of champagne!

We tried to watch Elf, but kept getting too distracted to pay enough deserved attention to it. So we settled for the Duke game (76-71 over Louisville!) and a This American Life recording with David Sedaris’s Santaland Diaries about when he worked as an elf at Macy’s.

We went with a silver, green and blue theme. Also included are all the glass ornaments my parents have given me since I was little.

As we collect ornaments ourselves it’ll get prettier – but not bad for some first timers!

To round out our nascent Christmas decoration collection I painted some canvases to hang in the hallway:

More pictures to come as we get the place set up!