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Have you ever remembered something super cool and can’t believe you ever forgot about it?  That happened to me last week…

A Christmas Tradition Forgotten

I was decorating our house for Christmas after Thanksgiving dinner last week, and I saw a stack of Christmas cards in one of the boxes.  I have been keeping the ones we received for the last few years, but I couldn’t remember why.  Then it struck me while I was looking through them…my mom and I used to make a Christmas tree out of received cards on the blank wall of my family’s house.

I always loved making that card tree because it wasn’t just about decorating.  We also read through past cards.  As a kid, I laughed at the funny ones and liked to pick out the ones that were the most colorful.

My Christmas Card Tree 2012

I started sorting through the stack of cards I had saved, and then (of course), I started opening them up and reading the little messages.  I still laughed at the jokes like I did 20 years ago, but that wasn’t what had me swallowing a lump in my throat.  Some of the cards were from friends and coworkers we no longer know.  A few were from family we don’t keep up with.  And a few of the cards were from my husband’s maternal grandparents…that’s the grandma that passed away a few years ago.  Seeing her writing made me tear up and smile at the same time.  I decided my card tree this year would be about colors and memories.  Now it is my favorite decoration (and I have quite a few inside, lol).


Christmas Card Tree 2012

Sometimes the best traditions don’t have to cost anything but a bit of time…

Other Stemberger Holiday Traditions

Our new Christmas card tree is joining a few other traditions of our household:

  • I make a list of family friends to send out cards to for the holidays. I like to send personalized Christmas cards as I find them more special than regular store-bought cards.
  • Every year I decorate since it isn’t my hubby’s cup of tea.  Since I refuse to climb actual ladders, this means that the inside of our house screams “Christmas!!!” and our home’s exterior is very subdued…like a wreath, some little holiday garden decorations, and I’ve just added a few window posters of Santa with a bag of toys and a Reindeer.  I haven’t tackled actual exteriror lights yet even though we have 2 strings on the little tree inside AND a fiber optic tree, lol.
  • We purposefully have a small, fake, hand-me-down Christmas tree.  I’ll put a picture below.  It’s like 5 1/2 feet tall and is missing one of it’s legs (so I prop it up on that side with a stack of post-it notes instead), but I love it.  It was from my parents and was the last tree I remember decorating with them regularly.  There was a tree before it that actually had color-coded branches, but this one replaced it when it finally gave up, hahaha.  My mom gave it to me when they upgraded to a larger, more modern one that is absolutely gorgeous and Mr. BFS and I got our first apartment.  I don’t know if she knows how attached I was to it…one of the best gifts ever.  Hubby’s aunt and uncle gave us a fabulous replacement a few years ago when they upgraded, but with their permission, I sold it instead since I really wanted to keep this one.
  • I put a Santa’s hat on top of our tree instead of a star.  It started in our first apartment in 2005 when we were broke, didn’t have a star, but did have a Santa’s hat in one of the hand-me-down boxes.  We liked it so much, it stuck.
  • I use a fitted sheet with a snowflake pattern as the tree skirt.  Works great, was free, and now I think it’s just like the tree itself…it’s my thing…
  • We put up a nativity scene every year, even when we had no room and had to put it on the floor, because hubby’s uncle made it.  Gordon poured the casts and painted each piece so long ago that even he had forgotten (we reintroduced him to it this year, lol).
  • For the last couple of years, Mr. BFS has cooked a complete Christmas dinner for our closest friends.  It’s a blast.
  • I’m now included in a tradition with a couple of our friends.  Isabelle and Ivy have been friends since elementary school.  Last year, one of my gifts was an ornament from Isabelle and the explanation that they had been exchanging ornaments as side gift forever.  Now I was one of them.  🙂  Just having solid friends chokes me up, so this was a huge deal to me.  It took me a while to pick out their ornaments this year but I have them already, lol.
  • My mother-in-law gives us an ornament every year.  This year it was one that symbolized our new house.  I would reciprocate, but she says she already has too many ornaments, lol.  Between her and Isabelle and Ivy, I will never, ever buy an ornament for our tree ever again, hehehe.  I may have to get a second tree someday.  🙂
  • We have spent the final weekend of the last 8 years at a 3-4 day boardgaming mini-conference called Lonestar.  It’s just a fun time and we have been going since it started.
Our Christmas Trees

Here are my two favorite trees ever. The fiber optic one on the left is just cool. The tree on the right is the one that I am never, ever giving up.

What traditions do you enjoy the most?  Any cheap ones that make you really happy?