There are very few traditions that have been handed down to Josh or I. Or, perhaps the truth is there are few that we remember or choose to include with our own fledgling family. Either way, the two that have stuck? Are so much fun. Seriously.
First there is the Christmas tree hunt. This involved packing our family and the necessary sundry winter items into the SUV and driving and inordinately long way to a tree farm. (We have the GPS to thank for the scenic route, it has apparently never heard of the main highway which practically bisects the Dixieland Tree Farm.) Once at said tree farm I discover that Abigail's water proof mittens are not, in fact, in the car as I had assumed (where there are now is a Great Mystery as they are not in the house, either). Noticing this discrepancy Josh contributes his Daddy wisdom for the day and suggests we find a way to clip her gloves to her jacket. Brilliant, as usual. Luckily she had her very warm coat and hat and snow boots and seemed no worse for wear sans-gloves. Isabel was equally padded down in fleece lined jeans and sweatshirts and a coat. We had two smallish, pastel colored marshmallows with us, it seemed.
So off we went to find The Perfect Tree. I had asked to be shown the trees which held their needles the longest, and those trees only. Josh rolled his eyes at my very serious request of the farmers, but seemed somewhat impressed but their promise that the firs they suggested would "last 'till Easter." I too was impressed. And skeptical. I will let you know come January.
Once the tree was selected and hewn and shaken and wrapped it was brought to the car in which the girls and I were waiting, heater running full blast already. We three were giddy with anticipation of taking our tree home, and also delighted to be thawing, finally. We slid the tree in between the car seats so that each girl would have her very own up-close-and-smell-the-sap kind of tree experience for the car ride home. Isabel seemed content with her view and laid back to ponder deep, tree scented thoughts. Abigail on the other hand, proceeded to lose her mind. There was sobbing of the "get me out of here!" sort, followed by panicked screams and flailing, and general toddler sized mayhem. After 5 minutes (maybe more) we got her back into the car seat, buckled down, jacket thrown over the offending tree and were on our way. The fact that I was twisted around in my seat to face her, holding her hand the whole way home? Just added to the charm.
Once home our very sensible toddler disembarked and announced: "it's just a tree, that's not so scary!" Naturally.
This morning we decorated the tree and then dug the electric train out of the basement and set it up, too. I will spare you the part where I may have attempted a small electrical fire with the transformer and also the part where it didn't work for half an hour thanks to a misaligned track I completely failed to notice. But I digress.
Isabel has taken to this train much the way Godzilla does to large cities. She delights in descending on the slow moving train and knocking it over, sending the small plastic men and parts flying. Abigail prefers it to run at a moderate pace, while sitting back and watching it. We have shown her - repeatedly - how to work the ridiculously simple knob but it somehow continues to terrify her. She will touch it quickly if we force her to, but retreats to a safe distance at first opportunity. Isabel, ever the adventurous one, has already mastered the knob and when not destroying the train enjoys sending is careening at top speed around the track and then stopping it with a sudden jerk. Abigail is very annoyed by this, but as she will not touch the transformer herself is unable to stop her sister's antics.
(Also a fun side note to the train: as it's a German company that made it I can now -thanks to 3 years in Germany- read the little stickers stuck all over the pretend boxes that confused me all through childhood. And as I write this Abigail has come up to me with a small box filled with candy wrappers dating back to the years when my sister and I last played with it.)
Christmas has come to our house it all it's tree scented, train crashing glory. I love the memories that we have taken from our families and started them with our own little girls. I love that Abby is playing with toys that I have loved since I was her age. The fact that Abigail will have memories of trekking through snow and cold to find a perfect tree is something worth being very grateful for.