Christmas Traditions

We've decided to start a few new Christmas traditions this year, now that Jack is old enough to understand more.  First, we're doing the Elf on the Shelf.  I think most are familiar with it, but for those who aren't, it's an elf that sits on your shelf (obviously) that watches your kids and goes back to report to Santa each night how they are behaving.  When the elf returns the next morning, he/she sits in a new spot.  Jack likes the elf and says "he's watching me" if you ask what the elf is doing, but isn't quite old enough to frantically search for the elf's new location as soon as he wakes up or any of that.  I think it'll be really fun in future years.  One task when you get your new elf is to give it a name, which we're struggling with.  Jack has decided the elf is a girl, but he won't offer any serious suggestions for names.  PaPaw suggested Petunia, which Jack thought was hilarious, but we haven't settled on anything.  I think she may remain nameless until next year when he can offer some suggestions other than Daddy and Maggie.

The other new tradition is the Christmas storybooks.  We've wrapped 24 Christmas storybooks, and each night before bed Jack gets to pick one present, open it and we read that story that night.  So far it's been fun.  The first night (December 1st) we had him open the elf (it comes with a book explaining what it does) and then each night since then he's picked out a book.  I'm loving this tradition and think it will be a good one to continue.  I figure it was a one-time investment because we'll use the same books each year, aside from switching out a couple each year to be more age-appropriate as the boys get older.  Fun!

 Another tradition that we started a few years ago that we've continued this year is cutting down our Christmas tree. The tree farm we've gone to in the past, Pumpkins and Pines, closed down after last year, so we found a new online that's not too far from home.  We got there and were a little unsure - it was much more rustic than the other place.  We were literally stomping through a sparse wooded area seeking out an acceptable tree.  Jack liked it, despite continually getting caught on the thorny branches coming up from the ground.  We picked a tree that would be pretty great once Jason trimmed and shaped it.
Helping Daddy find the perfect tree
This is it!
Actually, after we took these pictures, we realized this wasn't the one we had decided on (it was between two)
So THIS is it!
Watching Daddy cut it down
Kinda heavy
Such a big helper!
Family photo with our tree
Of course they say you should take a tape measure when you're cutting a tree down because they look much smaller in the woods than they do in your living room.  We should have heeded that advice...

Yes, our tree is almost as wide as the room in which we were planning to display it, and yes, it's about 2 feet taller than the ceiling in said room.  I'm a little ashamed to admit we've actually made the same mistake once before.  The first year we were in our new house (2007), we cut down a tree that only fit in the tallest part of our vaulted living room and required some rearranging of furniture - I'd say it was about 11 feet tall.  Sadly, I can't locate any photos of that behemoth, so you'll have to take my word for it.  Lesson learned?  Apparently not.

 Our other fun Christmas tradition is putting up our train.  Jack received the train from Grandpa & Grandma Clayton for his first Christmas, and we put it up for the first time last year.  I think this is when Jack's obsession with choo choos really took off, and as you know it hasn't dulled.  So of course, he is loving playing with the train every waking moment he has, including blowing the horn for minutes at a time.  Not too quiet at our house these days.
 After he first played with it for awhile, he went over to his train table and got his "boose" and put it on top of the train's caboose.
 Then he did the same with his coal car and his engine.  He's a bright one, that boy!!
Later in the evening, Jack decided Charlie would make a good train conductor.  Then he thought Charlie might want to see how he looked in the hat, so he ran and got the hand mirror out of my vanity to show him.  Too cute.

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