Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Photo: The Cleveland Tree- 2010


Like most of us, I love Christmas and all it represents. From celebrating the Baby Jesus to gift giving, I love it all. One of my favorite fun things is the tree. Without even trying, the Clevelands built all kinds of family traditions around the Christmas tree itself.

First, the selection: If something needed to be pretty, matched, or a perfect size all the men in my family lost interest. So, while I was wading through rows and rows of evergreens trying to making up my mind, my sons and their father were darting around the tree lot throwing snowballs at each other and making fun of me. And yes it’s true, more times than not, I always went back and picked the first one I saw. It was a tradition.

The food: We simply could not decorate the tree without woofing down chocolate milk and donuts during the process. It was a tradition.

The music: Disco Christmas 70s Edition. It was a tradition.

The lights: Tangled. It was dad’s job to untangle, check to see what strands still worked and then wrap them around the tree with donut in mouth. It was a tradition.

The videographer: It was always our oldest son. His amusing commentary on all our shenanigans was a tradition- albeit always a potentially embarrassing one.

The tree topper: A Styrofoam Frosty, the snowman with a nose that lit up. He is now sitting atop his 40th tree. It’s a tradition.

Now that there are seven grandchildren who have joined in the fun with their own favorite donut request at tree trimming time, all of the above traditions have become even more precious. Of course, I know that the tree, be it a frasier, a balsam or whatever, it's just a tree. But, those dear wrestling, teasing, donut-breathing family members who dance around that tree every year are what truly matter. Without them, Frosty can just stayed in the box with the rest of the decorations.

Remember--traditions are the stuff families are made of, but families are the stuff hearts are made of.

Enjoy your traditions. Treasure your families.

Merry Christmas, dear ones,


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