I never thought much about what our first Christmas would be like—which is funny because, for a classic overthinker like me, it’s rare not to think about something. Maybe it was because of how big October seemed and how faraway December felt.
The first week, we bought a six-foot Fraser fir, purchased from a giant red-and-white tent outside Home Depot, a tree that smells like the forest and sheds needles every day. We stowed it in the back of Tim’s car, alongside a poinsettia and a fresh wreath from Aldi, and put it in our living room, inside a plastic stand Tim hadn’t used for four years and topped by white bulb lights I’d hung at that blog birthday party I had in 2009.
We hung a homemade advent calendar (inspiration: summer harms) on our dining room window, made of leftover wedding kraft envelopes and filled with holiday activities each of us wrote on slips of paper, mixed together and inserted randomly.
The first day was kisses every hour; the second was a thankful list to hang on the fridge.
We made a bed by the tree and read “The Gift of the Magi.”
We had some of our favorite kids over to make ornaments, just simple circles cut out and hung with red string, after which we ate popcorn and watched a movie about a valiant mouse.
We took our burlap wedding runners and made stockings.
Then we took more and wrapped gifts.
And last Saturday, we had a holiday pie party at our house, where everyone brought a pie to share—lemon meringue, key lime meringue, candied apple, pumpkin.
For our contributions, Tim and I made two tarts: David Lebovitz’s dark chocolate (the perfect dessert for incorporating some coffee Starbucks sent me a few months ago):
And Meg Gordon’s brown butter cranberry with a hazelnut crust, beautifully Christmassy with its bright red berries and set on a nutty cookie-like crust:
And so here we are, less than two weeks from Christmas Day, in the throes of new traditions and new memories, and I’m certain of one thing:
I may not have thought much about what our Christmas would be, but I know I will think, often, of what it was.
It’s pretty easy to see things I’ve inherited. I have my dad’s olive skin, my mom’s round face, the bump on my nose found in both sides of my gene pool. I like good conversation, working in the garden, making a big meal to eat with people I love. And, sometimes, when I laugh very hard or hear myself telling a story like it’s a routine, I think how my grandma used to do those things.