The Griswold Tree vs. Charlie Brown's Tree

The Miller-McCarts with Santa

We’ve already seen Santa, purchased our tickets for the Polar Express and set up our tree. The twinkle of our Christmas lights helps these dreary, short days seem not so dismal, and I give my three year old full credit for putting the magic back into the holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved the cozy splendor of the Christmas spirit, but having a kid who is just beginning to get excited and ask endless questions about why we do what we do during this season brings it to a whole new level.

Side note: How do you explain Santa to your kid?! The whole story always seemed a little nuts if you ask me, but then trying to explain it to a 3 year old and passing it off as truth feels even more weird… Curious on more input on that from fellow parents. Anyhow, I digress…


It has me thinking a lot about Christmas traditions from my childhood—ones I’d like to carry on and new ones I’d like to store in Owen’s memory bank. As we were decorating our Christmas tree this year, I got the warm fuzzies watching how excited Owen was to hang our vintage handmade ornaments on our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

When I was a kid, we would cut our trees from our cabin up near Johnsville. The purpose was to thin out the forest to make it healthy—certainly not to find the perfect Griswold Family Christmas tree. As much crap as we got for our always-bare-on-at-least-one-side trees, I always loved them because I knew that we weren’t killing a tree just for a month’s worth of use. We were nurturing the other trees that were left to soak up more sunshine with their newly opened up real estate.


Now that we live out in Verdi and have a mini forest of our own to take care of, the tradition continues. I’m proud to say that Charlie Brown Christmas trees still grace our December living room. And as much as I’m a perfectionist in pretty much every other aspect of my life, I have no qualms about our ornament placement, which consists of 80% of the ornaments on the bottom 3 feet of the tree, solely confined to two bowing branches. Courtesy of our little elf.

To add to those warm fuzzies I was feeling during our traditional tree decorating, I was invited to a Christmas tea party/brunch with some of my dearest friends. Julie pulled out her Nana’s china and we washed down (ever so lady-like, of course…) our avocado toast and banana bread with salted caramel tea. We talked about our ups and downs, hugged, cried and noted how grateful we are to have such an amazing group of supportive friends.

This is what Christmas is all about—not the obligatory holiday shopping lists and cheap toys from China. It’s about starting real traditions with friends and family that foster true connection and give us something to look forward to during these short, dark days.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?