Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving traditions

Halloween and B's birthday have come and gone, and we're starting to see the fall colors of our new town. Not in our neighborhood because we don't have many big, beautiful trees here, but driving through town is a special treat this time of year!

Time to turn my attention to Thanksgiving. Always on to the next thing, right?

I have to admit I have a big failing when it comes to Thanksgiving... I am not a big fan of turkey. That is probably because I am not very good at cooking them. Or maybe because I don't like gravy. Turkey is just a little dry and boring, in my opinion. Now, cold turkey leftovers for sandwiches?? Sign me up! But, secretly I curse the giant slimy turkey and it's bag-o-guts. I'd take a ham any day. But then where would I get my turkey sandwich leftovers?

When we moved this summer, we left behind one of my favorite holiday traditions. Probably the one that is the "biggest deal", and something Eric and I have done every year since we lived in Oregon: cutting down our own Christmas tree with friends.

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I had no idea you could do such a thing. Didn't everyone go to a Christmas tree lot and spend big bucks on a full, beautiful tree farm tree? Or maybe mom just had me help lug the box with the gigantic fake tree up from the basement?

Oh no. In Oregon, I discovered a whole new world of Christmas tree fun. Fun that was always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Fun that only cost $5!

Saturday morning we would meet up with our friends to caravan out into the national forest to find our Christmas tree. It's Oregon, so of course there was the mandatory stop at the espresso stand for lattes or hot chocolate. Everyone bundled up in winter coats and snow pants, boots and hats and gloves. (This happened regardless of what the weather indicated was necessary - you never know what kind of weather you'd find in the foothills.) From Bend, the drive to the forest was only about 20 minutes - plenty of time to drink a peppermint latte and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery.

These Christmas tree hunting trips were not our idea. We joined in on the tradition of friends who had been going for years. The number of families always varied, but it wasn't unusual for 5-8 families to drive up together with their kids and dogs. 

When we found the perfect tree hunting spot, the kids would run around together, dogs would run free in the snow, moms would take pictures and corral kids and the dads would lead the hunt for the Christmas trees. We'd also collect boughs for the church's Christmas float.

Side story: The year I was pregnant with L, Eric took off on his own to find our Christmas tree and was gone for more than an hour. Every other family had cut down their tree, posed for pictures and loaded it on to their car, and there I was alone and hormonal wondering where he went. It is a story I am almost required to bring up every year when we cut down our tree. Is that wrong of me?

Anyway, after finding the perfect tree and cutting it down, we always took lots of pictures.

Family picture with our 2008 Christmas Tree

This year will be our first Thanksgiving as a family where we haven't been in Oregon. I really want to continue our tradition of going out as a family to cut down our Christmas tree. I've been doing some research and have found that the closest forest where tree cutting is permitted is about 70 miles away. So we have to decide if the tradition is worth that drive time. If we didn't have a 2 and 3 year old, I'd definitely say "Let's go for it!" But forcing the kids into a day long "adventure" makes me pause. Then again, this is the time for memory making, right?

I'm going to be looking for and trying to think of some other good family traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I really would love for this time of year to be full of meaning and memories for our kids.  When I come across some good ideas, I'll post them here for others to see.

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