It's the holidays, and Troy has reinvented our family website that I have been so slack in updating the past few years. We just got back from visiting my sister in Atlanta and her husband Pat and my parents who came for a visit as well for Thanksgiving. We had a great time with my family catching up, playing games. The holidays is a great time to reflect and remember. As we put up our freshly cut Christmas tree today, it brought back many memories of Christmas past
The Learnard's always had an artificial Christmas tree growing up. I remember having a plastic white tree with shiny blue garland on it when I was young, and I thought it was the greatest thing. I think that it was the most unique tree I've seen to date. It was just beautiful, and each and every ornament stood out against those white tree boughs.
Troy and I decided to go with the live Christmas tree tradition after Troy tried to adopt the Learnard tradition of an artificial Christmas tree. We looked high and low and went from store to store buying everything to try to replicate that heavenly pine scent that makes Christmas complete, but we had no success. Troy was miserable. Ever since, we have gotten a live Christmas tree year after year.
Through the years, Steven and I have heard stories after stories of great food and amazing decorations of the Baker/Bittner Christmases involving generation upon generation of relatives all gathering at Grandma's and Grandpa's home. Troy's Grandpa Bittner(Troy's mother's dad) was a carpenter by trade and made lots of handcrafted houses for underneath the Christmas tree. He also crafted picket fences to put around the villages he created under the Christmas tree. The family tree was covered and surrounded in handmade ornaments and decorations dating back to the 1800's. The whole family came together to put up the decorations because it was such a production it took three generations to get it done.
Troy's parents and grandparents collected handmade decorations and gave them to Troy each year as Christmas gifts to pass on some of that home spun feel of Christmas. Each year as we decorate the Christmas tree, Troy shares with us the story behind each ornament with a grin on his face. We started an ornament collection for Steven as soon as he was born. Between both of the Baker boy's ornament collections, we had so many ornaments this year that we had trouble finding spots for them on the Christmas tree.
Another Baker family tradition that we have continued on and off throughout the years is hiding the pickle ornament. Apparently, this is a German tradition to hide a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. Whoever is the first to find the pickle will have good luck the coming year.
We would have kept this lovely tradition going every year except for that fact that one year we hid the pickle ornament so well, that the pickle got thrown out when we disposed of the Christmas tree. Luckily, we found another in one most unlikely places--a target superstore.
Since we've been unable to find the home crafted villages from the 1800s like the ones Troy's Grandpa made, we went with the next best thing, ceramic houses that light up with twinkling lights. We also put down the train (picture at the top of the article) that Steven got when he was two-years-old. It is the Coastal Express G Gauge train (it's huge), and it billows real smoke from the smoke stack. The train is remote controlled and produces sounds and voices. One of them says, "ALL ABOARD! WHOO! HOO!"
The holidays are a great time to slow down, reflect, and remember your many blessings through the years and God's goodness toward us by sending his son, Jesus. Don't forget to count your blessings one by one.