When Bee was less than six months old and our first Christmas as a trio rolled around, Ken and I were so deep into the newborn fog it seemed impossible to lift our heads to the attic to bring down our hefty bin loaded with Christmas decor. And although tree decorating is one of my own favorite holiday activities, those precious few hours spent hanging garland and polishing ornaments seemed better invested in catching a few extra ZZZs – for everyone’s sake.
And so, no tree. We rallied and hung a few strategic wreaths here and there, but overall, holiday decor in the Loechner house was fairly nonexistent.
“Next year,” we muttered in our bleary-eyed state.
But then next year arrived – last year – and Bee was a baby on the move, grabbing and pulling nearly everything in sight. Dozens of breakable ornaments and vintage tinsel wouldn’t stand a chance next to curious fingers, and the idea of setting up yet another babyproofing device seemed to defeat the purpose of merrymaking. And so, no tree.
“Next year,” we muttered, as we re-hung a few festive wreaths from the year prior.
(You know where this is going, don’t you?)
“Next year” has arrived. Bee is a vibrant toddler with big bursts of energy and an affinity for climbing, so it’s been increasingly tempting to forgo the tree for one more year.
But there will always be an excuse, right? Crazy schedules, shifted priorities, sheer laziness. I can justify anything, but the truth is – we aren’t guaranteed a next year. We simply aren’t. And so, in the spirit of Carpe-ing Christmas, a tree there will be.
Bee’s reached an age where Christmas means something to her – all magical and twinkly and warm – and I want her to have early memories of experiencing that firsthand. So instead of creating a stuffy, breakable tree that we’d spend many hours encouraging her not to touch, we decided to flip our own tradition on its end and decorate something for the entire family to embrace – untamed toddler fingers and all.
And just like that, the toy tree was born.
Instead of gifts for Bee, we let the tree become the gift itself, housing dozens of small discoveries tucked into bristles and crevices – a new surprise to open on each of the long, dark and blistery days leading up to Christmas.
We dragged down our white tree from the attic and set to work finding trinkets, toys and treasures to don each limb. Old and new, tiny and bold – all topped off with a felted geometric star. To add color and impact, paper party decor fit the bill, and we hung alphabet ornaments with the intent of practicing new letters and sounds throughout the advent season. Bee loves having something new to discover daily and we love the idea of skipping big gifts in lieu of tiny treasures.
And tonight, as I write from my sunroom – staring at this fun, quirky little tree – I marvel at the beauty of parenthood.
The old traditions that slip away to replace new, slightly modified versions.
The black and white memories that become kaleidoscope colored when we recreate them for our own littles.
The joy that we experience when we mix new and old, tradition and surprise, past and future.
Because perhaps Bill Keane said it best, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future. But today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
Happy merry-making, friends!
Gingerbread Family Ornaments ($9)
Make the Connection Toy Set ($25)
Animal Shakers ($10)
Happy Together Wooden Dolls ($39)
Countdown Calendar Stuffers ($39)
Hanging Pinwheels ($13)
Silver Holiday Lights Garland ($35)
Festive Felt Garland ($20)
All the Colors of the Rainbow Ornaments ($39)
Metal Letter Christmas Ornaments ($5)
Alphabet Puzzle ($50)