O Christmas Tree

Here's something you should know about me: I like to have a (real) Christmas tree in my house as long as I possibly can. I'm talking the day after Thanksgiving until the first weekend in the New Year. 

I love a good tree. So there was no light so bright as the one at the end of our Thanksgiving lockdown signaling it was time to pick out our Christmas tree! 

Here's something else you should know: I like a full Christmas tree. Like, so full there might be a woodland creature nestled inside. (Cut to Josh pulling out several trees in the Lowe's parking lot as we hunt for the biggest, fullest tree in the bunch.)

Last year, I waited until Josh was in California for the weekend so we could pick out and decorate the tree in my apartment. 

Then, already understanding my deep love of trees, Josh sent me a tiny Christmas tree to decorate my desk at work. (Way, way, way better than flowers!)

He also put up a fake tree decorated with printed photos of us to give his home a little more holiday spirit for my visit over New Year's Weekend.

But this was our first tree together! 

This would be decorated with our ornaments, in our house, and we’d have night after night to sit together beside it.

Add that to the stir-craziness of being sick on the couch for a week... I was EXCITED about this tree!

Now. There's one major (unexpected) difference between shopping for a tree in Southern California and shopping for a tree in Southern Texas.

In our part of town, those who purchase their trees from a lot, take it home in a pick-up truck... not a Toyota Camry (like we did).

The poor Lowe's employee was at a loss for how to tie this massive tree atop our tiny car. He attempted a few times (backward...the top of the tree toward the front, which really made for some interesting wind-resistance on the drive home) before we thanked him and drove over to Chick-Fil-A so Josh could tighten the ropes while I grabbed us some sandwiches.

We got our tree home safely and learned a little for next year!

Up next, decorations!

In July, we moved my things into the townhouse Josh had been living in for a few years and he left for Summer Camp two days later. I had three uninterrupted days to do what I love: organize! I emptied every box, drawer, and cabinet in the house and did my best to merge our belongings into one happy (albeit, full) home.

This has not only made it easier to find things like batteries and winter hats, but it also meant that all of our Christmas decorations (lights, ornaments, stockings, and wreaths) were in one big (massive) tub ready and waiting for this day.

It was fun to share stories of where each of our ornaments had come from as we hung them on the tree. But it was the most fun to hang those we've picked out together.

We've made it our tradition to buy an ornament as a souvenir and/or to mark a special occasion. Our hope is that over time the tree will have more and more ornaments linked to stories and memories we share. We've been together just over a year and we already have a pretty decent collection.

(The round, wooden Love Nerds is from my bridal shower. The red T-Rex is from the day we got engaged. The little round calendar was a wedding gift, it's marked with our wedding date. The bottle caps wreath is from our honeymoon in Jamaica. And the giant wooden Texas was part of my Christmas gift from Josh last year.)

I loved watching our tree come together. I stopped more than a few times to take it in and snap a photo. 

Once it was complete, we sat on the couch with warm cups of coffee and watched a few episodes of The Holiday Baking Championship. (I want to remember this as the year Josh became very interested in baking shows. We watched five seasons in about a month... choosing our favorite competitors, booing when they were sent home and cheering when he or she won.)

Last year, we started another holiday tradition: a living room fort. 

We string lights inside and spend the majority of the holiday week in there taking naps, watching shows, playing cards. It’s the best.

Here’s us, year 1:

Since we were headed to California for the week between Christmas and New Year, we built our fort a little early this year. It was also quite a bit bigger than last year's to make sure we could see our beautiful tree while we watched Christmas movies, stitched presents, and ate breakfast for dinner (in keeping with tradition.) 

Here's us, year two. (The photos are rough, but the memories are great.)

We had a great pre-Christmas week in our holiday-ed home. And we're already talking about some small tweaks we can make to up our game next winter!

What about you? Do you prefer a real or fake tree? With store-bought sets of decorations or an assorted mismatched collection? Any tips for a really comfortable, long-lasting living room fort?

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