Thursday, December 9, 2010

Green Family Yuletide Traditions - Pt. 2: Setting Up Shop & Hunting the Tree

In the weeks before Yule my family is busy preparing for the holidays. I’ve never been into the crowds and mass hysteria of Black Friday, so I skip it. Yes, I know the deals are great, but I am empathic and to me it is just not worth the stress – I don’t care how good the deals are. Instead, we kick off the season by making a day out of hunting down our Solstice Tree.

Before we moved to Las Vegas we went to a You-Cut Christmas Tree farm in the country just a few miles out of town. We would pick out our tree, ask it if it would like to come home with us, then cut it down and load it onto the car. We would spend a few hours in the lodge, drinking hot cocoa, marveling over the beautiful handmade ornaments and decorations in the Holiday shop and watching the kids play games and talk to Santa in his workshop.

Vegas has not been as family friendly in that respect, and we have learned the hard way that no tree brought into the home in November will last until Solstice, let alone New Years – so we have taken to putting off getting our tree until the weekend before Yule. We have also had to get ourselves OK with buying from a lot of precut trees on the side of the highway (can’t you just see the pouty face I have going on right now?). Yep, it has been a culture shock to say the least, but we are managing. Next year we will be in Nashville (where we hope to stay for a while) and we do intend to resume our tradition of tree hunting on black Friday. If all goes well, we are also hoping to find a good reindeer farm or holiday village to visit nearby.

Anyway – when we finally get home from our busy tree hunting adventure, we bust out the tree stand, set up the tree, and string the lights. If it’s not too late, we say a blessing as I put our 5-pointed star on the top and my husband hits the lights. This year we will also prepare and bless the tree with a protection charm meant to sustain its life until the end of our Yuletide celebrations. Look forward to a “how-to” article on tree protection charms sometime next week, as well as pictures of our Solstice Tree once we finally bring one home.

Other things we will be focusing on during the weeks before Yule are:

· Decorating the house on the inside – including the family altar and a memorial shrine.

· Stringing lights on the outside of the house and hanging edible decorations on the trees in our yard (an offering to local wildlife and to the fairies whom we wish to have bless our home).

· Making homemade holiday cards for our family and friends.

· Completing all holiday gift shopping – including preparing those for loved ones who we won’t be seeing this holiday season; and

· Writing letters to or visiting Santa.

Usually this time of year we would engage the use of an advent calendar to count down the days until Yule begins, but this year, we are getting ready to move and I have not been able to find the advent calendar I have packed away in the garage. Next year, I will be making one inspired by something I saw in a Pottery Barn catalog a few years ago. I like the idea of utilizing gifts of nature, like stones and pinecones, rather than candy and toys – although I’ll admit, I will always throw in a few pieces of gourmet dark chocolate as a special surprise, and at least one fairy wishing coin (these are a hit with my daughters). This year, everything is a little rushed and chaotic, so we are making the best of what we have available on our limited resources (time and money). Next year I will post photos and how-to information for the handcrafted Advent Calendar we will be using, a few months before Yule – that way if you want to make one yourself, you will have plenty of time to do so.

I hope you will check back in a few days for an article on setting up the family altar. As I mentioned before, this year will be our families first, so it should make for an exciting adventure – and if for nothing else, it should make for a good laugh (I’ll try to include pictures). In the meantime, you can find me on facebook or follow me on twitter.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Blessed Be - Luhnna

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