’twas the night before christmas

We were never first, but we were never last either.

As soon as we arrived, my brothers and I would join the cousins in ooo-ing and ah-ing at the Christmas tree and at our stockings that “somehow” ended up at Grandma’s house.

We would dance back into the kitchen where the chairs had been taken from the table so that we could access the feast of delicious from all sides.  There was always crab dip (auntie Barbie made that) and shrimp cocktail (thank to auntie Lois) and lots of yummy treats (auntie Sandy spent loads of time baking) and then there was a giant cheese ball (my mom is famous for it). And so much more.

On the counter one of the uncles (or all of them) would be carving the turkey.  I can still hear the electric knife sawing away at the bird.  Like a good Dutch family we had buns that someone had cut to put our turkey on.  Further on the counter near the door was a selection of boozes and of course, homemade whiskey slush.

It was so loud in that tiny kitchen as we waited for the last of our cousins to arrive.  Whenever someone new came through the door shouts of “heeeyyyy!!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!”  would ring through the house and hugs and presents and winter coats and wet boots would fly around my short head.

It was unavoidable that our stocking feet would step in a puddle of melted snow from the boots of our dads and uncles who were bringing in piles of gifts to be added under the tree.

At this point we were under all the adults feet yelling, “now? now?  NOW?!!!???”

And they would give in and we would tear into our stockings.

Lifesaver books, pens, crayons, jammies, large plastic candy canes filled with green and red m&ms, small dolls, and matchbox cars.  And always, ALWAYS an orange in the toe.

We would fill up our brown paper bags with our names on them comparing with each other as our parents shoo-ed us into the TV room to stash our things until after dinner.

Dinner was a plate of snacks and some turkey and a soda.  The only time it quieted down was when someone would say Grace.  And even then there was usually a fussy toddler in the background.

After dinner it was time for the Christmas tree.  Every single one of us would cram into Grandma’s small formal living room.  There was barely enough room for us let alone the multitude of gifts flowing out from around the tree.

The grandkids went first:  oldest to youngest which meant I was always third.  I was third after my cousin, Jenise.  Whatever she got, I hoped I would get something similar.  She was the epitome of cool to me.  And more than likely?  She and I would get the same thing from my Grandma and we would talk about it and tease our younger cousins for the rest of the night.

It was magical.

We always brought our  jammies to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve because it was loooong past our bedtime when we left.

It was the perfect start to Christmas.

Grandma isn’t around anymore.  She has been gone for almost a decade.

My family has kept the Christmas Eve tradition alive in our own way, but since getting married, I have had to split that time between them and my new family.

This year will be the first year we only go to Cort’s mom’s house.  This is important to me.

I want Eddie to have the wonderful memories of racing into his Granny’s house on Christmas Eve, being surrounded by his aunts and uncles and cousins (someday…hopefully next year!) and bursting with excitement for the joy of Christmas and the magic it brings.

I will surely miss my extended family on Christmas Eve, but we will be building lasting traditions and magic of the season for Eddie.


Merry Christmas to you all.  And to all a good night.

Superfudge and other Christmas Miracles

I polled the audience and it seems that you would all like to see my ridiculousness try to make fudge.

And of course I had to name this post “Superfudge” because Lisa told me to, and she and I share a love of Judy Blume, She-ra, and side ponytails (which I am rocking in this vlog, by the way).

So.  Here is my vlog on my attempt at making my dad’s fudge.

Oh…wait.  first I should set it up for you.

This was what happened last year (in case you forgot):

fudgey turd pile

in years before that?  It hasn’t even set up.  We have used it as chocolate syrup for ice cream.  Last year?  It overly set up.  Sigh…

On to this year! Ok, first I prepped everything:

gathered my supplies

propped up my camera precariously on popcorn tin, Eddie's blocks, and Sandra Boynton books

and then?  the vlog:

Eddie and me sampling the goods

yeah, it actually turned out.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was containing my excitement about this on camera for fear I would look even sillier, but I was way excited.

Also?  This post is titled “and other Christmas Miracles” because guess what…BONUS VIDEO FOR YOU!

If my fudge turning out for the first time in EVER wasn’t the best thing?  We got a package today from one Miranda.  It had a cute Christmas card and a little something she just “whipped” up to give Eddie from her Joshua.

What a great day!!!  Fudge and crayons!!!  Seriously…how does it get better than this?

the one where i ramble about love and jesus

Cortney and I were both raised in households that went to church every single Sunday.  No exceptions. In fact, in my house, we went to church twice on Sunday and once on Wednesdays.

As a kid, aside from getting up early, I didn’t mind going to church.

Ok, I should say I didn’t mind being part of a church.  Everyone knew my family.  We were warmly greeted each Sunday morning.  My mom taught 2nd grade Sunday School and my dad was on the consistory.

(I should mention here that Cort and I were both raised in the same massively conservative Christian community, and that both of our families were members of the Reformed Church of America).

Church was full of wonder and tradition for me.  Our sanctuary was very old-school with beautiful stained-glass windows depicting different scenes in the life of Christ.  We had a choir loft and a choir that wore robes.  We had a traditional pulpit and old sconce lights on the wall.  I loved it.  I loved that our church was the first building in Zeeland; it was a part of local history.

I don’t know when either Cort or I stopped going to church or why.  I do know it was after both of us had moved out of our parents’ houses and no longer had the rule that we “had” to go.  Because of the new-found freedom?  We both choice a life of sleeping in on Sundays–despite constant comments from our mothers.

Once married, we vowed over and over to start going, but we never did.  Not regularly.

(I should mention that Eddie is baptized in the RCA church; and that we are all members of the church where Cort grew up).

But this post isn’t about going to church. It is just a segue into where my thoughts are going.

It’s more about what is in that church…or better, what is outside the church as well.

I’m talking about that guy, Jesus.

Yes, I am going there on the blog.

The season has gotten me thinking a lot about love.

Not only is Christmas supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Christ, but lately in the news there has been a lot of coverage on the Dream Act (not passed) and the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act (passed) and all sorts of other talk in between.

And all this Christmas and talk of others different than ourselves and church stuff has gotten me thinking about teaching Eddie about love.

Not just love for his mom and dad, but love for humankind.

No, we don’t go to church that often, and really a big part of that is because I don’t see the kind of love that I want Eddie to learn about being practiced there.  I hear it being taught, but not practiced.

I want badly to find a church that is the mix of the deep traditions that I love (old hymns, big echoe-y sanctuary, etc) and my more liberal views on the world (women’s rights to serve in the church, for example).  I want Eddie to feel the love of a church family and learn about the Bible there.  But we haven’t found that yet.

And honestly?  I struggle with the idea of “blind faith”.  I don’t know if I have it.

I know my parents have it.

I know Cort’s dad had it.

I know Cort’s grandparents have it.

I watched them blindly believe and trust.

I don’t know about me.  I try very hard to trust, but I don’t know if I can believe as literally, for instance, as my dad can in the stories of the Bible. Did a man survive being thrown in a furnace?  For real?   Or is this a legend told?  Is it more literature than fact?  Meant to teach, but not be historical?

But what I do believe hands down from my religious upbringing is this: I do believe in the kind of love that Jesus taught.

So no matter what happens, I fully intend to teach Eddie to love as Jesus did.

What we know of Jesus is that he was a radical who took anyone…anyone…who would have him, and loved.  He loved those no one else would.  He taught that the greatest gift of all was love and that we should “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Yes, he taught about sin being bad, but over that?  He taught to love.

I want Eddie to learn that sin is bad, but you need to love the snot out of the sinner.

Jesus traveled around with thieves and prostitutes.  Do people really think he would turn away illegal aliens or gay people?

Jesus went and dined with the scum of the town. Do people really think he would snub an adulterer?

Jesus taught love by loving.

I have struggled my whole life with the “reality” of the Christmas story.  With the idea of a crazy guy walking around claiming to be Christ and dying for my sins.  I have wondered if floods and talking burning bushes and parted seas were miracles or otherwise explained.

But this year?  As I watch Eddie interact with Christmas for the first time?  I realize that none of that matters to me.

Because I believe in love.

And that is the gift Jesus gave us.

And that is the gift I want to give my son. I want him to see me loving everyone…especially those society sees fit to not love.

Merry Christmas or Chanukkah or Santa-loving or whatever you choose to do or not do this week.

I wish you all much love.

You asked, I deliver

What’s that?  You would like the recipes from this post?  Well OK!

I already gave you the caramel corn recipe in that post.

But here are the rest:

Peanut Butter Balls:

I don’t use the paraffin wax.  And this NEVER makes 70-80 balls.

Buffalo Chicken Dip:

Once I have everything ready, I usually “bake” it in the crock pot, not in the oven.

Also, serve with tortilla chips

Hot Crab Dip:

I serve with Townhouse Crackers.

Cream Puffs:

I don’t have a picture of this recipe so here it goes…

To make the puffs you need: 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 4 eggs.

Melt the butter in 1 cup of boiling water.

Add flour and salt all at once and stir vigorously.

Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball that doesn’t seperate.

Remove from heat and let cool just slightly.

Add eggs one at a time, beating the mixture after each one until smooth.

Drop heaping tablespoons about 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.  NO PEEKING!  They will be flat if you open the oven!

Cool on a rack.

For the filling you need:  1 package (3.4 oz) of french vanilla pudding (use the directions on the back) and cool whip

after making the pudding, mix with the cool whip.

To serve:  slice open a puff (don’t cut all the way through) and fill with the pudding/cool whip mixture.  We like to add chocolate to the top.  You can use chocolate syrup, or, if you’re like me and your fudge never turns out?  You can drizzle that on top.

That’s it!  I hope you all have fun with these recipes!  The are a HUGE part of our holiday tradition around here.

Oh, and remember how I say I make banket every year?

Well, my mom bought some from the ladies at church.  This is what banket is SUPPOSED to look like:

And this is what mine looked like when it was done yesterday:

I’m pretty sure I either have too much almost paste or not enough corn starch because the middle is WAY too runny.

Either way, Cort still says it’s delicious and since I am not the one eating it, that is what matters!

Happy baking!

Tune in for Top Ten Tuesdays this week where I will be listing my Top Ten Wishes (for my family and friends).  Join in if you want, of course!  The linky will be up Monday night!

What She Wants

It seems, in my mind, that it was always cold and slushy and snowy.  My brother and I would pile on our winter coats, hats, scarves, mittens, and boots and let our dad buckle us into his car.

I don’t remember when this started nor can I remember when it ended.  I can’t ever remember my littlest brother going with us, so by the time there were 3 of us, dad must have decided that taking us individually was a better idea.

Anyway, there was a time when Chris and I always went with dad to choose our Christmas gifts for our mom.

Like I said, it seems that we were always traveling through driving snow and sloshing our boots through the wet slush as we traipsed through the parking lot and sidewalks.

One year in particular I can vividly remember being downtown in our small town with my dad wandering from shop to shop.   We eventually ended up in a tiny store, which isn’t there anymore, that was filled with knickknacks and paddywacks galore.  If you wanted a frame or a sconce or a glass lion to set on your end table?  This was your store.

I can still remember feeling the warmth as we walked in as the bell on the door jangled.  The smell of cinnamon and potpourri filled my small nose and head.

In my memory my brother has already found his gift for our mom.  It was all up to me.  My lack of decision-making abilities was what was between us and home.  But this is where I would find mom’s gift.  It was so lovely in here.

I remember looking everything over, and asking my dad what he thought.

In typical dad-style, he turned the question back on me, “but what do YOU think?”

I would pick up a trinket and he would unconvincingly shrug and say, “If you think that is what she would want…”

It drove me crazy even at that age.  I just wanted an opinion.  He wasn’t trying to be difficult; he wanted me to pick for myself.

Finally I walked up to a small artificial Christmas tree that had lots of ornaments on it.  I looked each over carefully and came up on this:

In my young mind this was the perfect gift for my mom.  She would be delighted as she pulled it from the box on Christmas morning and held it up for all to see by the thin, gold loop.  She would place it high on the tree.

“What do you think, dad? Isn’t this perfect?”

“I don’t know, Kate.  Is there another one?  This one has a broken wheel and the glue is showing all over the place.”

I searched the tree.  Many of the ornaments had twins and triplets scattered about, but not the little bear.  He was one of a kind.

“This is the only one.”

“Why don’t you pick a different one.  One that is a little nicer.”

“No, dad.  This is what I am getting mom.”

I brought the small trinket up to the counter, and my dad said, “well if you think she’ll like it,” as he pulled out the crisp dollar bills from his soft wallet.

After getting it home and wrapped and pushed under my bed, I worried.  What if mom didn’t like it?  What if dad was right?

Christmas morning came.  Mom opened her gifts.  She ooo-ed and ahh-ed at my little choice.  I was so pleased.

My dad announced that I had chosen it all on my own.  Mom was impressed.

At some point my brother stopped coming along to shop for my mom for Christmas.  But I always went with my dad.  Even when I was in college, he and I would climb into his truck and head out to pick the perfect gifts for my mother.

Each item that I would find he would say, “if you think that is what she will like.”  I would assure him it is on the list, and that yes, she will love it.

Each time we would find our way to the register and he would remove his soft wallet from his back pocket and finger the crisp dollar bills he got from the bank being sure not to give the cashier two that were stuck together.

He would gather up the bags and we would head to our next stop.

Last year my dad didn’t ask me to help him shop for my mom.  Admittedly I would put up a stink about it each year and give him some grief for not being able to shop for his wife on his own, but I would always go.

When I asked him last year when he wanted to go, he responded, “I’m done.  I already went.”

“Why didn’t you ask me to come along?”

“You always say I need to do it myself.  Besides, you have your own family now.”

I was taken aback, and sort of sad that our father-daughter tradition had ended.  Just like that.

This past weekend I asked my dad if he had his shopping done yet.  He laughed and said he hadn’t started.

“Well, I have next week off you know, dad.  If you need any help.”

“Really?  I’ll keep that in mind,” he said.

I hope he does.

Santa or Satan?

Weird/fun facts about this encounter:

1. Santa’s name was Marvin.  We know this because “Mrs. Claus” yelled it at him.

2. This is put on by the Holland Civic Theater.  They are a theater company and this is the best actor they could get for Santa?  Really?

3. I don’t think Santa…I mean MARVIN…likes kids.

4. Mrs. Claus, bless her soul, was very sweet and did everything she could.

5. My son is wearing a polar bear sweater.  Shut up.  I like Christmas sweaters on the little guy.  See?

6. Thank all the 8 reindeer and Rudolf we were the only ones there.  Otherwise I am afraid Eddie would have convinced the other children that Santa’s lap was made of rusty nails.

7. Clearly I am the only one having fun here…and that isn’t even real.  I was having NO fun.  I am just a better actor than Santa aka Marvin.


Please tell my your kid does/did this too.  please.

Top Ten Tuesdays: Holiday Food

Family, friends, decorations, peace on earth, blah , blah, BLAH!

We all know that from Thanksgiving through New Year’s it’s really all about FOOD!  I really don’t want to know how much sugar, butter, chocolate, and cream cheese I got through in that month’s time.  It’s pretty obscene.  And it makes it VERY clear why most people throw their diet out the window this time of the year.  I mean, who can say no to these yummies?

That is why this week Sluiter Nation is counting down our Top Ten favorite holiday foods.

#10 Homemade Caramel Corn

Oh my…YUM!  This is the most buttery, yummy caramel corn I have ever had in my life!  Each year my mom would make at LEAST two batches of this treat for us.  And now that I have my own little house and family, I make it too…and boy is it a hit!

And just because I love you all so much, here is the recipe:

2 cups (or a little less) of popcorn (not microwave)

pop the popcorn and set aside in large bowls for later.

In a saucepan on the stove bring the following ingredients to a boil:

2 cups of brown sugar

1 cup of butter (or margarine)

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

1 teaspoon of salt

boil for 5 minutes while continuously stirring.

After five minutes remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

mix until fluffy

pour mixture over popcorn and mix

spread mixed popcorn on REALLY greased pans and bake for one hour at 250 degrees.  Stir every 15 minutes

cool on waxed paper and then enjoy!

#9 Christmas Cookies

I already told you guys about our Christmas cookie making extravaganza here.  It’s a great tradition we have.

#8 Banket

First of all?  I don’t like almond-flavored things, but Cort LOVES it.  Banket is a Dutch treat that my Grandmas both used to make.  In fact, I have to use my Dutch cookbook.   Mine never turns out very pretty, but Cort always says it’s yum.

#7 Peanut Butter Balls

This one is another fan favorite at our house.  Every year I hand roll the peanut butter balls and then hand dip them in chocolate and then hand shove them into my mouth.  Nom nom nom.

#6 Puppy Chow

I make about three batches of this every holiday season.  People LOVE it.  My sister-in-law could live on it, and I have seen my friend Trisha eat it until she felt sick.  It’s that delicious.  For anyone who has never had this?  I feel VERY sorry for you.  It’s yum.

#5 Tortilla Roll-ups

This one isn’t a sweet treat and I don’t have a picture since I am making them Friday for a holiday party, but they make a yummy little appetizer plus?  they are the easiest thing EVER to make.  All you do is spread a mixture of veggie cream cheese and relish on a tortilla, add dry beef, roll it up, slice it so they look like little pinwheels and stick a tooth pick in for easy eat-ability.  Yum on a stick.

#4 Buffalo Chicken Dip

Again, I don’t have a picture of this, but it’s such a great dip to bring along to your holiday parties this year.  Not only is it addictive (which means you won’t have to take leftovers home), but it makes people want to drink…um…refreshments (which means the party will be super fun and entertaining).  And yes, it has cream cheese in it.  Duh.

#3 Cream Puffs

This one was my father-in-law’s favorite treat.  I used to make them for our holiday get together with him every year upon his request.  After he passed, I didn’t make them for a couple year because I just couldn’t bring myself too.  But last year, my sis-in-law and bro-in-law requested I bring back the tradition.  So again, I busted out the Dutch cookbook and made some yummy cream puffs.

#2 Crab Dip

This one is hot demand whenever we are invited to a holiday party too.  I got this recipe from my almost-sister-in-law’s mom about six years ago.  It melts faces it’s so good.  Seriously.  It’s a warm dip (and does NOT have cream cheese in it…ok, yes it does.)  It is served with crackers and usually I don’t get any of it because it goes so fast.  Yum.

#1 My dad’s fudge

my confession here is that I have never made this correctly (clearly, by the picture of fudge poo you can tell this fact).  I have tried EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR to make this, but I always rush it and it either turns out like a nasty syrup, or it is all crumbly and crystallized and disgusting.  But my dad?  mmmm.  he makes the BEST fudge.  It is the messiest process I have ever seen, but it’s so tasty.  It just melts in your mouth.  So yes, I will be trying again this year.  Stay tuned.  I might vlog it…if you’re lucky.

Want any of the recipes I talked about here?  Let me know in the comments and maybe I will put them up on the blog if there is enough interest.

What are your favorite foods during the holiday season?  Have a Top Ten?  Link up!

ps.  all pictures were taken last year…when we could put presents and decorations on a lower level.  This can’t happen anymore.  you know, because of the toddler.

pssst.  I have also linked MY link up with my girl, Lish over at A Beautiful Mess.  Since today IS Tasty Tuesday and these treats are all quite tasty.  Click over to see more food!!!

It’s the Simple Things…

It’s not a secret that I am a teacher.

I teach high school.  I teach in an “urban” school district.

I see issues and problems that i never could have imagined when I was that age.  My students have to deal with things I thought only existed in movies like Dangerous Minds back when I was in high school.

And my students?  They are LUCKY compared to many students who are in inner-city schools.

While my students have many hardships, they are not that far from beaches and parks and places they can go to get away from the “urban” area that might be bringing them down.  Many of them get to go on a summer vacation.

This is why, when Sara from The Fresh Air Fund (FAF) contacted me, I jumped on the chance to promote it.

What the FAF does is raise money to help inner-city kids in New York City experience places outside the city…to get some fresh air and some fun. To actually have a summer vacation that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

They do all sorts of things.  There are FAF host families, swimming lessons, farm visits, career awareness classes, and FAF camp.  All of these things help build confidence, self-esteem, and experiences that show inner-city youth that the ways of the street are not the only way.  That they CAN move out of that life.

The camps and retreats prepare kids to be leaders in their communities.

As an educator (and a mom), I know that what we experience is what shapes us.

If we are never read to, never taken anywhere, just dumped in a sub-par school with no funding?  We probably won’t be busting through any barriers to become great.

But if someone out there gives us opportunities and chances, there is no end to the greatness we can do.

This holiday season, won’t you join me in helping give opportunity and chances to a child who might not otherwise get it?

According to FAF’s site…

  • Just $10 will send one child on a bus ride to his or her Friendly Town host family.

  • $24 provides a child with a week of swimming lessons.

  • $42 provides a day of Career Awareness classes.

  • A gift of $50 can fund a camp counselor for a day.

  • If you can give as much as $91, you provide a child at camp with meals for a week.

We are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.

I know it’s cliche to say, but honestly?  Every little bit helps.

I look at Eddie and see that he has already had more opportunity than many of inner-city children have and he is only a year and a half!

Please help give the simple things in life to those for whom it is not so simple.

Please consider giving to the Fresh Air Fund.

For more information, you can visit the Fresh Air Fun site here, “like” them on facebook, and follow them on twitter.

and this is why I can’t do mcfatty until after the holidays

Yesterday I posted about the tradition of putting up our Christmas tree filled with ornaments that mean something to us.

Today I have another tradition to share with you.

When my brothers and cousins were little, we used to have Sunday after church dinner at my Grandma Jo’s house every single week.

One special Sunday in December was when she hauled out all of her Christmas ornaments and let us decorate her tree while she and the aunts baked Christmas cookies for us to decorate.

Decorating Grandma’s tree was so special because she kept each ornament (no matter how ridiculous) wrapped up in a piece of paper towel tucked in one of many boxes.  Even though we were all bound to unwrap some syrofoam cup made into a bell, we all handled each paper toweled package as if we were unwrapping an irreplaceable treasure.

And really we were.

My grandma has been gone for almost a decade.  I don’t know what happened to many of those treasures, probably thrown away with everything else that wasn’t deemed worth auctioning off or that none of us had “claimed” when we quickly went through her disheveled rooms looking for something to remember her by.

When she no longer lived at her house or decorated a tree or celebrated Christmas in this world with us, my brothers and I were still unwilling to give up the tradition of tree and cookie decorating.

So for the past few years…at least since I can remember…we have been gathering at my mom and dad’s house to have our kids decorate their tree.  This is the first year that Eddie could sort of help.  Jack will be six this year and has been helping grandma for as long as he can remember.

My mom doesn’t wrap everything in paper towel (despite our pleadings), but she does keep everything.  If we made it in grade school?  She still has it.  So when she takes the old boxes down, it’s fun to remember what sorts of treasures grandma has in there.

She has some really, really old ornaments that I am sure are not really worth much, but are most definitely….old.

Many of the ornaments on my parents’ tree are handmade…not just by us kids, but by my mom.  When she and my dad were first married, she made all sorts of decorations.

Chris found the traditional Christmas turtle (yeah, we don’t know.  but you better bet it went on the tree).

Chris and my mom grandma show Jack and Eddie how it’s done.

oh look!  something I made!  Put it on the tree!

Oh yeah, and don’t forget…part 2 of the tradition is decorating Christmas cookies.

my mom bakes somewhere around a million cookies the day before.

We all have our jobs.  Cort and my mom are in charge of frosting all those naked cookies.

Jack is our master decorator.

but we all do pretty well.

And since Eddie is to young to understand decorating?  He just eats.

I watched as we were all able to come out despite busy schedules and sniffling colds and other lazy Sunday plans.  Grandma Jo was definitely there too…smiling on us and telling us not to lick our fingers.

Oh and ps…this cookie extravaganza?  This is just the tip of the iceberg of why I cannot do McFatty during the holidays.  Stay tuned in January when I decide to kick my butt in gear…just like the rest of America.

It’s the hap happiest season of all…

Before you read this post?  Check out our new sponsor over there on the right ——->  It’s Peggy Ann Design!  She is awesome!  Think awesome as in “OMG!  BEST PRESENT EVER” kind of awesome.  If you get my hint.

Christmas is a time of some pretty major traditions for our family.  While we have been learning to let go or change some Thanksgiving traditions, we have worked very hard to foster and cling to our Christmas traditions.

I love Christmas.  All of it.  I really do. The family traditions are always my favorite part.  I think I just love the feeling of happiness and security that doing the same things and seeing the same things over and over each year create.

Yesterday we got Eddie all bundled up to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Every year of my childhood, my parents took us out to get a tree.  To be honest, I hated it.  I hated having to trudge through the muddy, cold fields arguing over which tree would be best in our house.  Then standing their while dad cut it down.  And of course then?  We had to drag it back to the truck, get it secured in the trailer, and get home.

And none of that meant that dad was going to hurry up and get the tree in the stand.  And even if he did?  It usually had to sit there and “dry” before mom would allow it in the house.

All of this was excruciatingly slow to us, and after awhile, my dad just went out and got one on a Saturday morning by himself.  One that was already cut.

But…we NEVER had a fake tree.  Ever.

And we still don’t.

Saturday morning we bundled Eddie up and took him with us to Bosch’s in Holland to pick a lovely pre-cut, REAL Christmas tree. It took us maybe 5 minutes to pick out this colorfur (I think that is how it’s spelled).  By the way, this place smelled WONDERFUL!  I wish you could scratch and sniff your computer screen because each time they sawed off the end of someone’s stump it smelled like pine heaven.

Anyway, after getting our stump trimmed, and some ooo-ing and ahhh-ing by Eddie at the giant inflatable snowman, we loaded our treasure up.

psst.  by the way?  that super duper cute hat Eddie is wearing?  Is from Baby Butterfly Boutique. Super awesomely cute baby stuff and ridiculously awesome customer service!

Ahem.  Anyway…

We took our tree home.

I am pretty sure this is our best-fitting tree we have ever gotten.  And the needles are so soft i could almost cuddle them.

Eddie did a pretty good job helping with the lights.  Until he found our ‘step’ button for turning them on and off.  Then we had to remove him from the situation.

(also, please ignore my dumpy-looking socks in this picture.  they are too big and out of control).

I don’t go with the themed-tree or the color-coded tree or anything that elegant.  The ornaments on our tree don’t cost much money.  We don’t get the little white lights that twinkling in the pretty dark room.

Nope.  Our tree is what we call a “family tree” or as my actual family calls it a “tacky tree”.

When we were kids, my mom and my grandma put the huge colorful lights on the tree and filled it with ornaments that were handmade and told a story.  That is what I always wanted my tree to be too.  It tells the story of our family.

newlywed ornaments

first ornament made in daycare by our firstborn

first Christmas as a married couple

ornaments that reflect hobbies

ornaments that reflect careers

personalized ornaments (a new one each year!)

good luck ornaments

and those to remind us that some of those we love are celebrating in heaven

all put together to make the perfect Sluiter Family Christmas tree.

Some may say our tree is tacky or gaudy or just weird.  People might laugh at our choices of ornaments or decorations.  But to us, this tree is the story of our family.  And we will put new ornaments on it each year to reflect what new parts of our lives.

Decorating the tree is one of my most favorite traditions of the season.  what is one of yours?

Stay tuned for Top Ten Tuesdays:  Things I would like to Do/Change about our House.  Join me, won’t you?

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