This post contains affiliate links, which means we may make a small commission if you click through and buy.
It's no secret that 2021 has been a trash year for our family. Besides the obvious of our house burning to the ground in August, we lost Jamie's dad in May, and the woman who was his grandma for most of his life passed away just hours after the fire. Throw in a global pandemic and a layoff, and it's one we'd rather not relive.
We're currently living with Jamie's stepmom, my mother-in-law, just a few miles from home, and are planning to stay with her while we rebuild. We were chatting a month or so ago about the looming holidays, and how we were all going to make it through without any breakdowns or other concerning moments.
The solution we came up with? A handmade holiday. Lucinda's bins of ornaments and decoration,s many of them documenting her 40+ years with Jamie's dad, will stay put away this year. Our collections are, of course, gone with the clearing of our property to prepare for rebuilding. We're starting fresh.
We've spent some time talking about decoration ideas and executing them too, so we'd love to share everything that we've done for our family as we spend this first holiday in this life that will forever be called “After.”
O Christmas Tree
Of course, we aren't going to “make” a tree, but we did the next best thing. We headed up to Alta the other day, to check out Little Bear Tree Farm to cut down our own tree from their “forestry style” trees. This will for sure be a new tradition for us, we really had a great time (even though we didn't end up cutting one, and picked one from their precut selection)
A super cute property, we got a ride up in their old pickup truck, wandered through the woods a while, looking at all the trees, and then had hot cider and a bit of holiday shopping in their gift shop after, while they packaged up our chosen tree for us.
As a fun side note, the only non-handmade ornament on our tree this year is the Little Bear Tree Farm one that they gifted us, upon hearing about our house.
Ed and Lucinda haven't used a traditional Christmas tree stand in a few years, after a friend gifted them a tree that came in a bucket. Yup, a bucket. Like a standard 5 gallon Homer bucket from Home Depot! They used rocks from around the property to wedge the tree in place, and it's a great solution that has the added bonus of lots of water so you don't have to worry as much about the tree drying up too much!
I knew, as soon as Lucinda told us about their bucket solution, that I had to do something about it, so I started thinking. I've seen these “Christmas tree collars” around, and wanted to do something similar to that, so I came up with my own laser cut (of course) solution!
It's a six-part hexagon bucket cover, and fits perfectly around a standard five gallon bucket! I don't know about you, but we always have a few extra buckets laying around, and this means one less bulky thing we need to store for the rest of the year!
This surround actually collapses down to its flat pieces, so it's simple to keep and store. If you have a laser of your own, the files are available in my Pew Pew Supply shop, you can grab them right here.
Trimming the Tree
This is where the good stuff comes in! From top to bottom, everything on the tree has been made by us or a family member, mostly new, but a few older ornaments that don't always get their time to shine are also getting places of honor this year.
We spent a couple of evenings painting ornaments that I had laser cut and engraved; some of my own design, but also some from file sets that I purchased, ready to go. This set is a super easy score and cut, perfect for younger kids, and these pretty stained glass ones are for more agile fingers to paint. One last set we did is this Christmas coloring bundle, which are more intricate and perfect for older color-ers.
I also designed and cut this Merry Christmas garland, and the file is available at Pew Pew Supply as well. The file includes two sizes, this one is 1.25″ tall and perfect for the tree, but you'll also get a larger 3″ version, which would be an excellent mantle or door decoration!
It's not all wood on the tree, of course! Lucinda knits, so she has contributed a bunch of things as well, most notably, this Christmas pickle which, if you know Max, is too perfect and I can't believe it's not a tradition we had adopted previously.
Jamie grabbed a chunk of wood from our property and turned it into a tree topper, using his dad's old lathe. We don't know how long it will last from an heirloom standpoint, because the wood wasn't dry so it's already cracking and shifting, but it should at least work for this year, and we can deal with it next year if we need to.
I had picked up this little paper maché dog at the craft store, and Max turned it into a mini Ripley, and then Lucinda knitted her a scarf. Too cute, don't you think?
Previously Loved Decorations
Like I said, the rule is handmade, not new, so we do have some older ornaments making an appearance as well. Lucinda's mom made some, and there are a few that Lucinda made as well. Not to mention our own wedding favors, which are wooden hearts that Jamie and his Best Man made for our guests. Thankfully, a few of those were randomly stashed in our box of “important papers” that evacuated with us, so we do still have those.
This little wreath that Lucinda's mom made, probably from an old Busilla felt ornament kit, is one of my favorites, because I had the same wreath that I had made in middle school or so, but mine had a little teddy bear sitting in it. But regardless, I love that we're able to have this little reminder of what was, and that it was made by someone who is no longer with us makes it even more special.
Some Traditions Remain
We aren't ditching all of our traditions, a sweet friend sent us new Christmas jammies for Christmas Eve (even Ripley!) and there will be viewings of the usual movies, Elf, A Christmas Story, and the Gen-X favorite, Die Hard.
We'll eat too many sweets on Christmas morning, and stockings will be investigated before it's even light out, and Jamie and I will wish that our coffee maker had a timer on it.
But really, and this is where it gets sappy, none of this matters. What matters is what we have. Each other, food in our bellies and a safe place to sleep at night. The rest of it is gravy.
Have a wonderful holiday season, however you choose to celebrate.