Toddlers & Tree-Snobs: The fight for holiday traditions.

Hello, my name is Jill. I’m a Christmas Tree-Snob. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Maybe one day I’ll ask for help. But not today. Not this year. Why? Because I believe in fighting the fight for holiday traditions.

I realize that Los Angeles is the capital of all-things phony (boobs, hair… and come holiday-time: Christmas trees)… but blame the small-town, Fresno-raised farm-girl in me: I NEED A REAL TREE FOR CHRISTMAS.

At the very mention of getting a real tree, my husband tells me to just “be normal” and buy a plastic one at Target (ok, I get it, he’s a “man”… he doesn’t get it). Meanwhile I’m also hit with eye-rolls at the mere mention of taking my daughters to pick out a live version at our local tree lot. Does anyone realize that it’s not all about the actual TREE?

The fragrance. The messy needles. The inconvenient effort of it all. The tradition. I. JUST. NEED. IT. It’s not Christmas without the real thing… at least for me.

Picking out a real tree every year – with your kids, no matter how young – is not time-consuming (ok, maybe it is). But if it’s special to you, then it’s IMPORTANT. The experience is IMPORTANT. And FUNNY (if you have a toddler who gets a kick out of vehemently pointing at big green things and yelling “CHRIST-MAS TREE!!!” while other patrons laugh at her big voice in a tiny body, that is). As adults, we sometimes forget experiences year to year… but kids will remember. And I remember.

Growing up, my family made a whole event out of going to the same lot every year and picking OUR tree. We’d get our coats on, load in the car in the dark, drive up to blasting holiday music and colorful Christmas lights strung across the lot and then we’d run up and down the same dirt aisles of what seemed like miles and miles of towering green forests so that my sister and I could search for the PERFECT one to take home. I still remember the smell of the huge flocking tent right at the entrance. And then there was the fast-talking lot owner (who also happened to be one of my parents’ friends) who’d run up to us and convince us that he’d saved the ‘good’ trees in the back just for us (yeah…. riiiiiiight). One year, my sister and I got to pick out a mini-tree to live right outside our bedrooms (damn I wish I had a picture of that). I know this sounds like cheesy small-town stuff, and I’m sorry if you’re sick to your stomach with saccharine right now, but it’s all true. (If it makes you feel any better, my sister and I also fought over decorating that mini-tree, I think. You feel better now?) But my point: Year after year, it was pretty much the same thing. The anticipation. The sights. The people. The smells. Every year, same time of year. And in this digital day and age (as much as I enjoy it), silly small-town stuff like taking your family to pick out a Christmas tree is IMPORTANT. Tradition is IMPORTANT. Family time and creating memories are IMPORTANT. Making the effort to do things out of the ordinary during the holidays is IMPORTANT.

Related:  FUN! Get the picture: Happy New Year!

Like many other moms I know, this year will be the very first year that I’m not taking my little family to my hometown of Fresno, CA to spend with my relatives. I always ‘need’ my real tree, but this year I’ve discovered that I need it MORE. This is the first year that I feel like a grownup, and I truly believe it’s because I won’t be going to the house I grew up in for the holidays. Now, we’re in MY house. MY FAMILY’S house. As a mom, I’m now leaning on my childhood memories and traditions to serve as a springboard for creating new ones. It’s MY TURN to instill and continue traditions… traditions that even a toddler and a baby can enjoy this year and for all the years to come… until they grow up and have families of their own.

I. NEED. MY. REAL. TREE. And if I have to take my girls by myself, every single year, to experience what I hold so near and dear to my heart (even as a grownup)… I WILL. Even if my own husband (and some extended family members) doesn’t understand the greater sentiment of it all.

If something is important to you, don’t let others scrooge you over. Do things YOUR way and stay true to your roots. You’re the MOM.

BEING FABULOUS is remembering the most special aspects of your childhood and making the extra effort to pass those same (if not better) experiences on to your own kids…. EVEN IF NO ONE ELSE AROUND YOU CARES. Let the naysayers miss out: They may not find the joy in watching your toddler dance with a blowup Grinch and penguins or see your baby curiously-mesmerized and squealing to reach her little arms out to touch the spiky branches in front of her… but YOU will. Fleeting moments and the tiniest of details are what make memories.

Not to mention, they usually give you candy canes.



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