Tree Decorating and Sinterklaas

On Friday, we went into the city and picked up a real Christmas tree. Danny has always loved real Christmas trees covered in bright, multi-colored lights which is sad because that’s what I always grew up with and couldn’t WAIT to have my own fake tree covered in plain white lights.
But I’m selfish and his reasoning is always, “for the kids” and I can’t argue with that.
This year, I watched Danny plug in our lights and make one long strand of LED multi-colored lights.
“What about white?” I asked (I always have to try).
“Whatever the kids want,” he shrugs.
“Lacy, what kind of lights to do want on the tree?”
“COLORS!” She chirps back. And so it is.
Game, set, match, Mama.

My mom always covered our tree in homemade ornaments we’d bring home from school along with ornaments we received as gifts, and I always felt like our tree was sort of less-than. It didn’t match like Grandma’s tree.
So when we moved into a house big enough to hold a decent-sized tree, I took a CHUNK of money and bought matching decorations: red and gold balls, ribbons! I decorated the (fake!) tree with a sort of triumph that year. And never have I been so dissatisfied… it was an empty kind of tree, it looked commercialized.

Saturday night, the kids pulled ornaments from our Christmas bin with the kind of crazed Christmas Kid energy we’ve all given into at some point in our childhood… and there was glee and smiles and, “Remember THIS?!”
The ornament from Kindergarten.
The Iron Man ornament from Grammy.
“Hey, Alicia…”
Danny dangled a dainty gold trolley in front of me, we’d picked it up on the wharf in San Francisco. We placed it next to the ornament we bought in San Diego on our honeymoon and the “Our First Christmas” ornament from 2004.
We put up the shoe ornament I’d bought at Disneyland, a few branches up from the shoe ornament Danny had bought me at the hospital when I was giving birth to our little Christmas season baby, Alice Michelle.
In a fun in-your-face turn of events, no one wanted anything to do with the red and gold matching ornaments. I had to beg them to hang them up. Once the ornaments with sentiment and memories were up, they were happy campers! The red and gold ornaments were just a pain in their little behinds.

Before bed on Saturday night, I sat next to the tree and inhaled. Guess what?
I actually do prefer real trees and multi-colored lights and homemade ornaments. How ’bout that?


The bottom half of the tree is covered with tough ornaments… the kind toddlers can handle without Mom sweating it. 1205152138

Alice helped put the star on top!

To finish it off, we added candy canes all over… that’s a must in Danny’s book. He bought about 7 boxes of candy canes this year.

Aaaaaand it didn’t take him long to say, “maybe candy canes aren’t the best idea…”
We’ve already uncovered one hoard of half-eaten candy canes hidden behind the tree.

The kids are so much fun. Lacy wrapped the tree skirt around her waist and put an elf hat on -she makes us all laugh with the little things she does:

She has finally forgiven me for teasing her. When we brought our tree home, it was in a big tree net. I didn’t know that Lacy didn’t know the net would come off until she said, “Mom, it’s just… I really like the way the tree looks WITHOUT the net.”
“You’ll be surprised at how good it will look once the lights are on,” I said.
We kept the ruse up for a few minutes. Lacy was adamant about losing the net, and I would calmly reply, “You’ll be surprised at how good it will look.”
Pretty soon, I couldn’t find her. I looked around our little house and found her face-down on her bed.

When she finally came out and saw the net-less tree up, she burst into tears. Having parents who tease is the WORST. I know by experience.

We had waited all week for Saturday to come -not so we could put up our tree, but so we could celebrate Sinterklaas with the goodies our good friend, Martha, gave us. Every year on December 5th, Martha celebrates Sinterklaas with her family. They sing and eat Dutch goodies -she wanted us to share in the goodness in our own home.
“I’ll make them Dutch children yet!” She says about my kids. And you know what? It’s working. She’s spoiled us with rusk and chocolate shavings on top. She’s given us big loaves of Dutch Christmas bread. This year, she spoiled us rotten with Dutch Chocolate Coins and a bag filled with Christmas Dutch Treats!

Martha is full of fascinating stories (and we all know how I feel about people like that!) -she lived overseas during WWII. Lucky YOU can actually read her stories for not much money! Give yourself a little Christmas gift and buy her book. It’s only 99 cents for the Kindle version, and you can read it in one sitting. It’s a great perspective-shifter when you feel caught up in things that don’t matter.

She just announced on Sunday that she’s finished her second book, so I’m really excited to get my hands on a copy.

We were so exhausted from setting up the tree that we fell asleep before having our Sinterklaas celebration, so we celebrated a day late on the 6th. We watched the LDS Christmas Devotional and then gathered around to enjoy a few stories about the Dutch Holiday. They make the children royalty for a day which I think is really the best thing ever -isn’t that the beauty of my personal beliefs? That we are all children of a King?

Afterward, we all went to my grandmas. Alice took her precious pouch of coins with her and unfortunately lost most of it to older kids. She was sad, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I kicked myself for letting her take it, but I also knew it wasn’t the end of the world. Well, last night we stopped by grandmas again to see if she had some Cream of Tartar (we needed it for our gingerbread house frosting), and she didn’t… but she had one rather big Dutch chocolate coin. Uncle Gary had come to rake grandma’s leaves earlier in the day and found one of Alice’s coins.
She was THRILLED -what a blessing. We called Uncle Gary immediately and thanked him.
I tried to get a picture because she was so cute and proud, but she wouldn’t stop wiggling.

Our holiday season is so busy, and I can’t seem to keep the house cleaned or my head cleared this year… but that’s okay. Good memories are being made, and even if I’m not doing my best to simplify, good is still coming out of the season.
I love seeing the lights, smelling the gingerbread cooking in the oven (with melting Jolly Ranchers, mmmmm!), and feeling the feels.


  1. What is the name of Martha’s book? Love all the fun traditions that you have for your cute family.

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