Trimming the Tree, My Way

Last month, I talked about creating family traditions.

I think family traditions are like inside jokes. They bring us closer together and they make a shared experience more special. If I were to give any advice to people “starting out” on their life, as a parent or in a committed relationship, it would be this: start some traditions all your own.ornament 264x296

The tradition I started.

Every year (everyone does the first), I buy my girls an ornament. Sometimes it has their name or the year on it, or it’s something personal to them, or something special from the year. Sometimes, especially in the last few, I buy more than one. They’re nothing super fancy (I leave that to their great aunts, who love Hallmark ornaments).

The idea is that when they have a place, and tree, of their own, they’ll have a whole slew of their own very personal and special ornaments to decorate it with.

Of course, there’s a sad story.

I remember putting the tree up with my parents, and my mom handing us the ones we’d made in Sunday School or our favorites to hang ourselves. We never had a themed tree or special colors. It was The Family Tree, always.

We lost those ornaments in a devasting flood (I most miss a frozen juice can I’d painted bright red and hung some sort of coated wire in to make a pretty impressive bell–for a five-year-old). It became even more important to me, then, to have ornaments to pass on.

We have a lot of ornaments. 3 girls, that’s (19×1)+(16×1)+(9×1… or 2?)= A lot.

With three girls and 18 years of acquiring ornaments, you can imagine there are quite a few now. I would personally love to do one of those themed trees–all in red one year, or pinks and purples and aqua. But I can’t NOT decorate The Sizemore Family Tree. Except, last year, I didn’t.

This is the part where I went all bah-humbug.

I bought the ugliest tree in the history of the world. (It was so ugly that I can’t even find pictures of it. Christmas pictures of the kids opening gifts, sure. But no tree.) It was 4-feet tall and made entirely of a spiral wire coated in silver tinsel. I bought aqua beads and ornaments to go around it. It was hideous, but it kind of matched the Christmas spirit I seemed to have lost. On the 26th, I boxed it up, ornaments and all, and labeled it First Christmas at College for girls. Maybe they’ll pass it around for a few years. And it’ll be fun and shabby-chic for a dorm room.

But then I bounced back. And I didn’t need any dead guys with chains. Take that, Scrooge.

This year, everything’s different. I’m different. I’m a lucky chick. I have aMAZing kids. Like, so much more amazing than anyone deserves. And I’ve been married seventeen years. Even better–I still love the guy. Like, crazy-in-love, I’d-marry-him-again-tomorrow love.

I won’t say I learned to appreciate them more, because they’ve always been my lifeline. But, after a difficult year, I’ve made peace with what matters. And what doesn’t. That part isn’t even the point. The point, truly, is that my tradition made getting their ornaments this year feel like home. It didn’t matter that I’d been away… I would always be welcome.

This year, I’m putting up my brand new pre-lit, six-and-a-half foot tree (traditional green). I’m going to blare Christmas music, the ones that make me feel all mushy,  smile, and sing off-key. The Sizemore Family Tree is going to be spectacular. And there will be pictures.

So, obviously, I’m a giant sucker for family traditions and Christmas is my favorite holiday. Tell me yours!

Don’t forget.

Every comment is entered to win one of the holiday books by authors from this very blog. This means more than one winner. Is it Christmas or what?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Reading – Year in Review

Today I was scanning through my Goodreads bookshelf and realized I’ve read some great books this year!

Unlike some novelists, I love reading nonfiction. I like books on business, marketing, parenting, and faith.  I read several non-fiction books for writers, including The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke and 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron. One of the best books I read this year was a non-fiction book titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I recommended it to several people at work, and they also loved it.

I read several Christian novels this year. I especially like romances with a good dose of comedy like Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt and Sandwich with a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips. I also read Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade, one of my favorite authors. I love her voice, and she creates some of the best heroes around.

I read sweet romances, including The Husband School by Kristine Rolofson and A Little Bit Cupid (which I highly recommend) by our very own Jennifer Shirk.

And when I wanted something different from all that romance, I read Proof, a great medical thriller by Jordyn Redwood.

Over Thanksgiving break, I read three different Christmas novellas. Mistletoe Magic by Terri Weldon and Faith House by Robin Patchen, two talented authors from my local writers group, and Muffins and Mistletoe by an extremely talented Heart Shaped Glasses author, Debora Dennis. There’s nothing better to get you in the holiday spirit than a great Christmas romance.

Well, those are some of the amazing books I read in 2013. I can’t wait to see what wonderful books 2014 has in store for me. What are some of the books you read this year?

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

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