Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Breaking Tradition

If there's one holiday rule that I have grown up with and lived by until this year: you don't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. This had been a steadfast rule. One instilled in me by my Mom, who would never dare dream of decorating this early - ever!

It all started when our family watched The Polar Express on Netflix. While we were watching this holiday movie for our family movie night, I asked Cava, "Did they teach you any Christmas songs back in Ukraine?" I know that Christmas is a big deal in Ukraine and I assumed they would teach him Ukrainian Christmas carols in the boarding school or one of the orphanages he'd been in. To my surprise, he replied, "No."

"You don't know any Christmas songs?"

"No. Uh-huh."


Another first we have with him - and there are soooo many great Christmas songs. I was curious to see which one would be his favorite.

The week before Cava's birthday, as we were cleaning up the house to get ready for the party, I put on Christmas music.  He danced around the house to the songs and he came up to me and told that his favorite one was Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." When he told me this, it dawned on me that while we were in Kiev for Christmas last year, this song came on my iPod and it made me think of Cava because he was all we wanted for Christmas.

To get the house decorated for Christmas, I had to first take down all of the Spider-man decorations from his party. I thought Cava would be upset about this, but when he heard that I was taking them down so we could start decorating for Christmas, he clapped and jumped up and down. "Can I help?" he asked.

"Sure you can," I answered.

He was also excited because I bought him his first Christmas ornament that only he would be able to hang on the tree. What was the ornament? Is it really a hard guess? Spider-man, of course.

One thing Danelle and I decided to do this year was not to put most of our breakable ornaments on the tree since Cava still has momentary flares of temper and I did not want him breaking any of the irreplaceable ornaments that we have inherited from our grandmothers and mothers that have been handed down over the generations. Maybe next year. This year, he's just not there yet.

The first thing I brought out was the Christmas people that I inherited from my Mom. She collected them and I remember decorating her hospice room with them right before the Christmas she died, so there is a bitter sweet element whenever I bring them out.

All Cava knew of decorating for Christmas or even celebrating this holiday was the small tree the kids decorated with the few ornaments they had and they would placed stuffed animals they already owned underneath the tree. When I saw this, it broke my heart.

Now there are those on both sides of the real tree versus the fake tree debate and, while I prefer a live tree, one cannot turn down a free tree even if it is fake, especially since we live in an old house with 12' ceilings and large trees are expensive. So, while my Christmas music played, the boys helped me put our tree together.

And they were very proud of their handiwork when we were done.

They wanted to decorate the tree immediately, but I told them they had to wait until Mommy got home because she is very picky about how the lights go on the tree. To appease them, we began to put up other decorations around the house, such as the stockings, nesting dolls, and the nutcracker.

We put lights and garlands over the cabinets in the kitchen.

After Danelle got home, we ate dinner and then set to putting the lights on the tree, while the boys watched and complained about how long they thought it was taking us. Finally, when Danelle was semi-satisfied with the lights, we let Cava have another first: putting his first ornament first on his first Christmas tree. 

Benjamin put on the first ornament we ever bought him (Curious George).

Then the whole family got in on the decorating - and had a great time doing it!

We had a few new ornaments to put on that we had gotten in Ukraine. These that we bought at Andrew's Descent. Cava put the first one on.

And this one we got from our friend Wendy Bergstrom, who we were blessed to meet while we were in Kiev.

When it was all said and done, this is how our Christmas tree looked all lit up.

Cava's reaction?

"Wow! It's so beautiful!"

So, yes, I broke our family's tradition, but in doing so, have started a new one for our new son. Besides, Christmas is only 6 weeks away!


  1. I saw the last picture and even before seeing Cava's reaction my reaction was - "WOW! it's so beautiful!" ))

  2. Thanks. Even more beautiful was the time our family spent together putting it up & decorating it.