traditional traditions

I have to begin this with a HAPPY 29th BIRTHDAY to Jamie!!!

Our family loves traditions! And, this time of the year is one time that traditions run rampant!

One tradition that was started way back when was the yearly visit to see Santa Claus. I wrote a post about the very last picture of the four girls with Santa. That’s already been three years ago. Gosh, a lot has happened in those three years! Today, Taylor and I tagged along with Jamie, Eli and Nora while they waited in line (over two hours) to see Santa. I think the outcome was worth it!

While we’re on traditions…I wanted to share the blog I wrote for Rural Housewives a week or so ago. If you’ve never checked this blog out before, I really think you should! What a great bunch of gals that write on that site! I hope they don’t mind but I wanted to share our Christmas trees. The one post that I keep wanting to write and haven’t yet is to share a few pictures of Nora Grace. I will…one day soon!

IMG_7343The tradition of the Christmas tree as we know it dates back to the 16th century.  Devout Christians in Germany brought the decorated Christmas tree into their homes. Martin Luther added lighted candles to represent the twinkling stars in the sky.

“The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.” – The History Channel

As a child, I remember having a real Christmas tree but what I remember the most was the mess the needles caused for my mom to clean up. Eventually, the real tree lead to an artificial tree. I missed the real tree. If we were at my mom’s parents’ house for Christmas, I would, again, get to enjoy a real Christmas tree. Like most kids, I loved Christmas. But it wasn’t necessarily the presents that I remember the most – it’s the Christmas trees. Especially my grandparent’s trees. I decided that when I grew up and had a family of my own, there would be no artificial Christmas tree in my house.

Some of my fondest memories of Christmas revolves around the tree and decorating it. So, it shouldn’t surprise me that I have passed that love of the tree to my girls.

Our traditional tree of choice is a pasture cedar tree. Each year, shortly after Thanksgiving, the hunt for the perfect tree begins. When the girls were smaller, the bigger ones would put their winter garb on and head out the door with Jim. It was their job to find the perfect tree. I would stay home with the younger ones waiting with anticipation to see what this year’s tree would look like. Once the tree made it to our living room, it was my job to hang the lights and decorate. As the kids grew, the tradition continued. Now, the hunt for the perfect tree is a family affair. This year, we had to find five trees (Callie decided she needed to have a tree in her room). Apparently, we are too picky when it comes to the perfect tree because this adventure took ALL afternoon.



IMG_7185Jamie’s baby bump is now a new member of our family. Nora Grace was born on December 5. She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz.  This picture was taken on November 29.

IMG_7195So the next part of the story takes us to the actual decorating of the trees. After the girls joined our family, I began giving them an ornament each year as a part of their Christmas gifts. These ornaments went in a plastic container with their name written on the outside for easy identification. I don’t know why I started this tradition or where it came from. I just know that as the girls have left home, so have their containers with all the ornaments that used to decorate my tree. I still have Callie’s to enjoy but soon…very soon…it will just be a tree with my pre-children decorations. I will still have the homemade ones and the special ones they have specifically given to me but all the others now fill their own trees. I asked the girls to share pictures of their 2014 Christmas trees and also pictures of their two favorite ornaments and why. As you will notice, ours trees all look similar. Taylor summed it up best when she wrote this to me in a text, “Isn’t it funny how us girls decorate our trees just like the one at home, home? It’s all we know. And we love it.” This just warmed my heart!



IMG_6825“This is our first Christmas ornament. One of my faves just because.”

IMG_7432“Eli made this ornament last Christmas and it’s one of my favorites because you can see how much his hands have grown even after one year.”


IMG_9697 lr (1)

IMG_9729 lr“Cupcake: During Christmastime at Manley Elementary (holla), we used our art time to make ornaments – which make up probably half the ornaments on my tree. This cupcake has survived since third grade.”

IMG_9746 lr“Teddy bear: Every Christmas, Mom gives us girls ornaments that are the same theme, but each slightly different from the others. It’s pretty fun to see what she finds every year. We got the teddy bears in ’95.

IMG_9749 lr“Bird: The name Jenna means “little bird,” which is something I’ve always thought is kind of cute. Mom bought me a set of these birdies a couple of Christmases ago, so they all make an appearance on my tree.”

IMG_9752 lr“Icicle: A few years ago, our Grandma Ruth gave each of us granddaughters a couple of these icicles to hang on our trees. They hung on her and Grandpa’s Christmas tree every year.”



IMG_0660“I have no idea why this is my favorite, but it is. Whenever I think of decorating the tree, this is the ornament that comes to mind. I don’t even know which grandparent it’s from.”

IMG_0663“I received this ornament this year from my Secret Santa at school. I THINK it’s from my first grade teacher (when she went to school there). It’s just my first of, hopefully, many teacher related gifts to come.”




photoThis tradition began with my kindergarten picture. I’m not sure if I made this in school or girl scouts. It’s a decorated jar ring with the picture glued on a piece of felt material. I love hanging these up every year!

IMG_7347I had an Elf in a Tree before there was an Elf on a Shelf! This tradition was carried from my Grandma’s tree.

IMG_7349These two ornaments came from both of my Grandmothers. I look forward to hanging them every year because it reminds me of Christmas as a child and I think of them both each time I add them.

IMG_7346As you know, I’m all about traditions and keeping them alive. I hope this Christmas season is all that you remember from Christmas past and can look forward to for Christmas future. In the Christmas present…remember the reason why we celebrate. Happy Birthday, Jesus!


9 comments on “traditional traditions

  1. Kevin Nelson says:

    What a wonderful post!! Your family keeping the traditional decorations from generations ago is so cool. My dad made ornaments from walnut shells while he was home from school with the mumps. We always hang at least one of these on our tree. He turned 80 last September! Thanks, and Merry Christmas

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Those ornaments (like those of your dads) are the very best in my eyes! It creates a tree of memories rather than just a Christmas tree. Thank you so much for your note, Kevin! Merry Christmas to you and your family, as well!

  2. Mosher Leonard says:

    Merry Christmas

  3. Enjoy your post and the traditions your family carries on over the years. I learned a little about my German heritage which I know little about. Which you and Jim & your 4 daugthers a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

  4. Margaret Smith says:

    Merry Christmas from Idaho to you and yours Z Crew! And what a special one it is to have little Miss Nora Grace (Grace is my mother’s name…she will be 96 in Feb.) with you this year! Thank you for sharing your Christmas traditions with us! Have a happy and healthy 2015!

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Thank you, Margaret!
      It was a WONDERFUL day. All the kids were home under the same roof for the entire day. It was the best Christmas gift they could have given me!!
      Happy New Year to you and your family!

  5. Linda Maranville says:

    Oh Tracy, your writing is beautiful filled with beauty, warmth and heartfelt love. I loved seeing your trees and the girls ornaments. I too saved my boys’ ornaments which went with them after they were married. I thought my tree would be a little bare but I just keep getting beautiful and special ornaments from my Sunday school kids and dear friends and now grandkids. I am like you, I love my “homey tree” and with each one I pull out of the box each year I remember and have fond memories of the person it came from. Totally agree that without those, it is just a tree. Merry Christmas to you and your special family. Spoil those grandbabies all you can-we are!

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