- open gifts on the evening of the 24th or the morning of the 25th?
- escargots or chili soup?
- stockings or no stockings?
- white christmas lights or colored lights?
- real tree or beautiful, perfectly symmetric, pull-out-of-the-closet, imitation Christmas tree
It's pretty clear, when I see this list, that there are obvious answers to all of these questions. The problem is, Joel agrees, though our answers differ greatly. In our second Christmas as a married couple, we are still figuring out what are the traditions we want to keep from both sides and what new ones we want to create.
One of the questions was about getting a real tree vs. a fake tree. Joel grew up with a real tree, and I grew up in Africa, where we had a lovely fake tree.
I had heard of families going to a Christmas tree farm, walking all around and picking out the perfect tree, and that did sound fun and exciting. When I was 12, my family was living in Kansas for a year, and my parents decided to let us experience the joy of picking and cutting down a real tree. It didn't go super well. Our tree was so prickly, and putting on the lights with my Dad, which was our tradition, was painful and so much less enjoyable than placing the lights on the perfectly spaced out and symmetrical plastic tree branches I was used to. Neither my brother, sisters nor I enjoyed our real tree very much, though the experience of going to pick it out and drinking hot chocolate after, was a lot of fun.
When the time came for Joel and I to decide what we wanted to do for our Christmas tree, we found a good compromise: if we get a real tree, we include the whole experience of picking it out and cutting it down, plus hot chocolate afterwards!
Living in France has made this a bit trickier. Typically, people here buy their (real) Christmas tree from a grocery store, ikea, outdoor market, etc. These places will have an area set up, with a big selection of pre-cut trees that you choose from. According to my French hubby, it's not as common here for people to go directly to the tree farm and pick one out themselves, though he thinks it's happening more and more.
Last year, we found a little farm on the outskirts of Rennes, and though the trees were all pre-cut, they were actually from that farm, and we liked the idea of helping the local farmer, and actually being on his farm.
This year, I did some research online, and found out that there was actually a tree farm a ways outside of our city, where they were inviting people to come and pick and cut down your own tree! I very excitedly told Joel about it, and as soon as he had a day off, we made a date out of it!
In typical awesome French style, the "farm" was a beautiful property with a castle, a long winding road onto the property, and several hills of trees at the back.
I was so excited! All these trees to choose from!
Joel made us some awesome hot cocoa when we got home, and the decorating began. Don't let the expression on his face fool you, he was giddy happy with our tree as well. :)
Our new little ornament this year. A little tradition of our own.
I'll admit, having a real tree is actually kind of fun, but the memories that we make getting it and our time together is what makes it so special.