This holiday season is different for my husband and I, a bit quieter around the house because we became empty nesters several months ago. And I admit that with Christmas just around the corner, the quiet is a bit thunderous. I remember past holidays when our son and daughter were little; we’d keep the magic going and would look forward to witnessing their wonder of the season each day up until the morning when we watched them with delight open their gifts. They knew that just the night before, Santa had come down the chimney with the hefty pack of presents on his back.
Holiday baking is a tradition that I carried into my family from memories of my sisters and I baking with Mom. She was beautiful and festive, wearing her Christmas apron as she taught us how to make sugar cookies and her German Christmas Stollen – a delicious recipe that I’ve made only once in my life but will attempt again when I have the required energy in both mind and body. The recipe is complicated, involving yeast and bread rising and everything that I know very little about, hence, the need to muster up that energy! Baking with my young children was a time when their excitement and giggles bounced off the walls as they helped make sugar cookies in different shapes: bells, boots, Christmas trees, angels, stockings, candy canes, holly leaves, and more. Licking the beaters was a must, and no one ever got sick. Their tiny little hands had so much fun with the cookie dough as if they were creating with playdough. Christmas carols played in the background adding merriment to the mix.
I must have inherited my love of dressing festively for the holidays because when our children were little, I loved painting on t-shirts and sweatshirts for family and friends. I was no artist, but my daughter and son were thrilled to wear their white “Merry Christmas” sweatshirts with candy canes and Santa’s “Ho, Ho, Ho!” The grandparents wore their Santa Claus sweatshirts with pride, and they looked cute! My husband and I still wear ours and that paint has never peeled off, even after thirty years! Having fun was the main objective!
But this past Saturday a new tradition began when just the two of us drove to our most patronized grocery store to look for a live Christmas tree. He’s an Arborist and an avid tree hugger, so as long as the prepping of the tree – fitting it onto the stand and keeping it watered – doesn’t become physically challenging, a living tree will be our preference. For the first time, we brought home a beautiful Grand Fir. My husband prepped the tree outside, trimming the bottom branches, making sure the flush cut was level with the base of the tree, then drilling holes around the center hole to allow water to be soaked up. Inside the house, I rearranged furniture, vacuumed, and pulled the red festive tree skirt from the closet, prepping the perfect spot by the large window in the living room. When the tree was set up, I poured sugar water into the base and waited a half hour to ensure no water was seeping through.
Tony Bennett sang Christmas carols in the background while we strung the lights around the fragrant tree. As we picked up each ornament, precious memories flooded our minds. Most ornaments were handmade by our children as they were growing up, and many have photos of them from kindergarten, first, and second grades. Oh, the memories! Now our beautiful Grand Fir stands tall by the window adorned in red, green, and white lights, adding magic to the room. The tree topper is our very own precious angel that our daughter made when she was a little girl. She used a toilet paper roll. Hilarious, but clever, and so special that this angel will never be replaced.
I realized early that day, I didn’t feel the same excitement to put up the tree as I’ve felt in years past. But we had a great time, perusing the trees on the lot, then getting both tree and house ready. Feeling reminiscent of those years when our children were little invoked gratitude for the blessed Christmases we’ve had when we all lived together, or at least, when one child was home while the other was away at university. So, even though we missed the presence of our adult kids during this tradition, I’m grateful for my husband to share another holiday season with. Perspective is key: this is the next chapter for each of us, and it’s all good. Most importantly, we are healthy and safe.
Everyone has their own struggles and sorrow from various life events; some are just a matter of going along with the progression of natural changes like becoming empty nesters, and some events are so tragic that joy drifts far, far away. Hopefully, though, joy can be found wherever our hearts and minds may be this holiday season, even if only in tiny, fragile fragments.
And speaking of memories, if you’re looking for a holiday gift for family or friends, my memoir, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose, is available on Amazon:
Below is another beautiful 5-Star Review from my dear friend, Betty at https://raindancepoetry.wordpress.com:
“More than Coffee is a heartwarming collection of memories and anecdotes in which the author reflects on her early life, her marriage, her love for family and friends, and her appreciation for the great outdoors. In poetry and prose she writes poignantly (and often humorously) of love, loss, sadness and joy, and I found myself relating to each section. The overall feeling I had after reading More than Coffee was one of optimism and upliftment. A wonderful book!“
I believe there is some meaningful discovery for each reader, or at least, this is my wish.
Sending you all hugs of joy during this holiday season.
64 thoughts on “Christmas Trees and Memories!”
Thank you for a wonderful post, Lauren!
I’m so glad you enjoyed, Joanna, and thank you for your lovely words! Merry Christmas! ❤️
I love all your hand painted shirts and you all look so happy! Changes are part of life and I’m sure this year too, you’ll add more fond memories to look back to. Happy holidays, my dearest Lauren! Love and many hugs. 😘🤗❤🌲❤🤗😘
Thanks so much, Marina, and I know you’re right about us creating more fond memories. Sending holiday hugs to you, my dear, dear friend. ❤️🎄❄️❤️🎄❄️
Thank you, Lauren!
Here’s to creating more beautiful memories.
I think creating new traditions as times change can be healthy as they cause us to reflect on those old memories that brought us joy. I loved the old photos, Lauren. I bet you can’t find paint like that these days! Wishing you and your husband a Merry Christmas! xo
I agree with you, Jill, and I’m glad you liked the old photos. Those were fun times. I don’t know about the paint, but you’re probably right. Makes me want to check it out, though. 🙂 Thanks for your lovely wishes, and a very Merry Christmas to you and your husband! ❤️
Such a wonderful and beautiful read, Lauren. As we grow older our children leave and have their own little world but so nice to be in the spirit of Christmas. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you and your husband.
Thanks for your beautiful comment, Kamal, that I couldn’t agree more with. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday! 💗
Welcome always dear Lauren. Thanks for your warm wishes and same to you too 😊❤️❤️❤️
Ah such a nice new experience Lauren, treasure each moment because time is speeding fast, yes kids gone and it’s up to us to face the next moment. We can enjoy I believe, the moments as they collide together, feeling the rawness of life as everything past dispates. Wishing you a lovely holiday season❤️ love Barbara x
I appreciate your lovely and insightful words, Barbara. Time seems to speed up as the kids get older, but I agree that we can “enjoy the moments as they collide together.” New traditions are bound to be born as changes are inevitable. Thanks for your holiday wishes and I wish you and yours the same. 💗
Wonderful post. Yes, Christmas changes, but the old memories last. In our new home we’re building new memories with adult grandkids while trying to keep some of our best traditions alive.
and creating one or two new ones.
Thanks, Andrew, and I think what you are doing is perfect. As our kids get older and have families of their own, new memories begin to unfold. And it’s fun to keep some of those old traditions alive while being open to creating new ones. This is the road we have begun to travel now. 🙂
Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season!
What a deeply beautiful post! Thank you Lauren for sharing your wonderful family memories of Christmas with us.
Thanks for your lovely words, Nico. Since this year’s tree tradition felt different, I felt compelled to write about it. Then the story grew as I reminisced on past Christmases when the kids were little. I’m glad you enjoyed my memories. Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday season.
Thank you Lauren! We as readers so appreciate the way you write. May you and your family be wonderfully blessed this holiday season and in the coming year. Peace.
What a nice thing to “say” Nico. Thank you again! And thank you for the lovely wishes. 🙏🏻
Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories and tree with us Lauren. It looks beautiful.
Who would know that buying a Christmas tree would prompt a blog post? Thanks for reading, John, and for your beautiful tree comment. It’s another lovely tree for our memories. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
It is little things that inspire beautiful writing. 😁
Hi! I enjoyed your post. The thunderous quiet makes a cool oxymoron, I think. (This is my first ever comment at WordPress.) If you ever want to blog poetically about making and enjoying stollen, please include your mom’s recipe! Thanks you.
Hi Cindy, thanks for visiting and I’m honored that my blog is your first to comment on. I appreciate the nudge about my mom’s stollen, too. That’s an idea I’ll definitely consider. I really need to muster up that energy and make it this Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.
What a lovely post Lauren! Christmas is more festive with children, as they they add enormous energy and excitement to the moments. Thank you for sharing your lovely pictures and memories. Merry Christmas.
Thanks, Balroop! Your comment about children is why I took a walk down memory lane. Such precious memories! New memories will be in the making as our kids grow older and have families of their own. But we can carry our old, special traditions into the new generations. I’m glad you enjoyed my memories and the photos. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas.
Hi Lauren, I enjoyed your descriptions of holidays past and your new traditions being empty nesters. We are headed in that direction too. If you ever try to make a Stollen, I’d love to see how it turns out. We used to have them every Christmas morning (a lot of German in me!). Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Hi Barbara, I’m so glad you enjoyed my holiday memories. They really lifted my spirits. I hope your transition into the empty nester phase is a smooth one. But I will say that it’s bittersweet! I’m also thrilled that you have memories of enjoying Stollen, so I will let you know if I attempt to make it. Yours is my second request. 🙂 As Christmas gets closer, maybe I’ll muster up that energy. Thanks for your wishes and I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, too!
Beautiful memories Lauren. And I love that you guys still have your sweaters. Some things never get old. Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season. ❤
Thanks very much, Debby. I’m surprised that paint on the sweatshirts has lasted all these years. You’re right, some things never get old. I guess that means us, too? 🙂 I know you’ve had a most difficult year, but I sincerely hope you can find some joy this holiday season, surrounded by family and friends. ❤️❤️
Thank you my friend. I will get by. I’ve decided to cancel Christmas in my home and not partake in any gatherings – it’s just too raw for me, too many triggers, as the load of grief hasn’t lessened an iota. But New Year’s eve is girl’s night at my home – pyjamas, wine, TV ball drop, and good girlffriends is all I need. Hugs to you. ❤ ❤
Your plans make perfect sense, Debby, and New Year’s sounds wonderful with your girlfriends. What’s not to like about pj’s, wine, the ball drop, and good friends! Enjoy, and here’s another wish for peace as we’re all about to greet 2022. 💗🥂
Thank you so much Lauren. ❤ xx
With both of our children living in the US as citizens and we living in Australia there is not the same feeling about Christmas as there was with children and grandchildren getting excited on Christmas eve and waking up early in the morning to pull parents out of bed for the grand opening of presents in the good old days. So our Christmas will be spent reviewing photos of those good old days. 🙂
I love how you describe Christmas morning, Ian, so true. And it’s hard not to miss our children’s enthusiasm and giggles on the big day. But the photos are handy to relive those precious memories. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Thank you for sharing your loving Christmas memories, Lauren. Your tree looks beautiful. I love your hand-decorated Christmas sweaters. ❤ Much love to you both. ❤ We are creating Christmas stockings for each other. I pondered on hanging paper chains, but have decided not to go down this route! You are lovely. ❤ xXx ❤
Thank you for your beautiful words, Jane! And I’m glad you like our fun sweatshirts. I still can’t believe they’re still going strong after all these years. I love that you’re creating Christmas stockings! How special and a tradition in the making. I also remember paper chains, but it’s been decades since we went down that route, too. You are lovely, also, my friend. Sending love and warm wishes to you both! Hugs, too! ❤️🎄❤️🎄
❤ Lauren ❤
I love your recollection of these memories Lauren, your memories of a time gone and the way you are living Christmas these days.
I love Christmas trees and decorations. Magic is here in the air. Kids do participate to it. But I guess we can live it a different way…
And this is what you’re showing in this beautiful and heart-touching text.
Sending you love Lauren and may you have a beautiful season with your husband. 🎄❤️
Thanks so much for your beautiful comment, Marie. This year brought the realization that some traditions remain, some change, and new traditions begin. We’re happy with the tree, and it definitely adds magic to our home. And like you said, it is a magical time, so we have to go with the flow of those changes and enjoy the season. Sending you much love and wishes for a lovely and peaceful Christmas and New Year’s. ❤️❄️❤️
This is a very special post, Lauren!
Your tree is stunning!
Are the kids coming for a feast?
Thanks for your wonderful words, Resa, and yes, we can’t wait to see the kids in less than two weeks. I wish you a joyful holiday season! 🥰❤️🎄
What a lovely post of memories and new Christmas traditions, Lauren. We started our new traditions many years ago. We’ve kept some traditions and made changes in some and let go of some. Hubby and I are content with a simple Christmas before and after Christmas and excited to spend Christmas with my daughter’s family. Our focus now is to watch the grandkids to their smiles warm our hearts. Merry Christmas to you and your husband!
Thanks, Miriam! I like what you wrote about keeping some traditions, changing some, and letting go of others. I think as we get older and our kids start families of their own, that’s exactly what we need to do. And we’re just beginning…Thank you for the wishes, and I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas, too!
I like that the changes come gradually, Lauren. I know you may not want to have an empty nest but on the other hand, you want your grown children to be independent. Did your son and daughter move far away?
Oh, Miriam, we are thrilled that our kids are paving their own paths, so I totally agree with wanting them to be independent. But this is the first holiday with both of them out of the house, so it’s different, that’s all. But I wrote in my post that “it’s all good.” 🙂 Yes, they’re across country, so the miles in between make it difficult; we can’t just see them on a whim. But they’re following their dreams and ambitions, and we’re very proud. And we all visit when we can. ❤️
It’s always nice to continue those traditions if you can. I used to bake Christmas cookies, but haven’t done so in quite a while
It is nice to continue some traditions while new ones blossom. You should try baking this holiday season, Binky. Make something chocolate!
This is such a lovely post, Lauren. I am sure it is a little tough for the first year on your own. My boys have lost interest in the Christmas tree so I put ours up on my own this year. My sons also baked with me at Christmas but Michael is helping to make the 150 Christmas Crackers for charity and will eat the gingerbread creation for this Christmas, as well as the cake.
Thanks, Robbie. I think it’s wonderful that your boys baked with you. I miss those times in the kitchen with my daughter and son. When they moved out, I made a recipe book for them. I included photos from the past and added where the recipes originated from. They’ll do Christmas baking of their own, which makes me proud. 🙂 I also think it’s commendable that you’re making 150 Christmas Crackers for charity. Helping others warms the heart, doesn’t it? Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season. ❤️🎄
Ohhh, that first year of being empty nesters is a trial, for sure. But you and your husband are passing the test, enjoying old memories but also making new ones with putting up a tree just for the two of you. Baking. Those sweatshirts are adorable! Tell me about the sugar water – that really helps the tree? When we lived in the bay area I tried that once, but it attracted the ants. Ack. You know what it’s like in CA with the ants, particularly when the rain begins. Speaking of which, enjoy the rain finally coming your way! Merry, Merry. xo
Thanks for your lovely comment, Pam. This year does feel different, but we’re in constant communication with the “kids” so it’s not so bad. While some traditions will stay, some will change, and new traditions will be born. When the kids moved out, I made recipe books for them that included photos and details of where the recipes originated from. They’ll do baking of their own this holiday season which makes me feel even better. 🙂 Thanks about the sweatshirts! It’s all about having fun! The sugar water is supposed to make the tree last longer. My husband knows trees and has done this for years. I don’t know if things have changed, but it seems to work for us. No ants, either. We’ve only had ants twice in the twenty-two years we’ve lived here. Fingers crossed for no more because you’re right, they are annoying! So far, so good with the rain, and yes, we need it and are getting more at this time of year than in the last two years. Hopefully, the amount is making an impact regarding the drought. Anyway, stay warm and Merry Christmas to you and your family! ❤️🎄
I’m adding sugar to my xmas tree water today! 🙂 Those recipe books for your kids are amazing. xo
Yay! It should work! I think making the recipe books for them was cathartic for me in my new empty nester phase. 🙂 Hugs!
It sounds like you and your husband are in for a wonderful Christmas together, even though things have changed. I wish you and your family, all the best at Christmas and a Happy New Year, Lauren!
Thanks for your kind words and wishes, Mark! Things are different but all good. I wish you and your family the same! See you in 2022!
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Beautiful reflections here, Lauren, and I love the photos of past Christmases with your family. While your year this time around is quieter, as you say it’s all about perspective. We have a quiet one planned too and will make it special with a toast at dinner and love. Merry Christmas to you and your family! xo
Thanks for your lovely words and wishes, Christy. We had a nice holiday even though it was quiet. Zoom comes in handy too. 🙂 I hope yours was also wonderful. Wishing you a very Happy New Year! 🎊❤️
Thank you, Lauren! 💖
This is a nice post. Over here, I feel like Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore. The spirit seems to have dies
Thank you, Mariana, I feel the same each Christmas because of world events and unrest in our own country. But with great effort, I push all that aside to allow the spirit in so that I can find that joy with my family. And when things change as we get older, we roll with those changes and create new traditions. Thanks again for stopping by. Take care, Lauren ❤️