Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree

Welcome to the December Mindful Mama Carnival: Staying Mindful During the Holiday Season

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have shared how they stay mindful during the holiday season. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


My Christmas tree was always plain. White lights, red, unbreakable bulbs, and a red ribbon on top described my Christmas tree for most of my adult life. And I liked it that way. I liked its simple elegance.

I was on the path to repeat this tree decorating scheme this year. Following tradition, the day after Thanksgiving the five of us left the city and traveled to a Christmas tree farm in the countryside to choose and cut our Christmas tree, and then we spent the afternoon decorating it simply and plainly.

A few days later, I grew weary of the piles of bulbs my five-year-old and two-year-old continuously removed from the tree for play, leaving it even more nondescript than before. Then it occurred to me that this is a perfect opportunity to make this year's Christmas tree more meaningful, more original, more child-centered, and more true to its winter solstice origins.

So the kids and I began exploring how to decorate a nature-inspired Christmas tree, a tree that would symbolize light and life, strength and stamina--qualities that led cultures dating back thousands of years to celebrate the returning light of the winter solstice by decorating their homes with evergreens and other hardy flora.

We launched our new decorating mission with a trip to our neighborhood florist for some baby's breath and floral wire. As we were leaving the shop, I mentioned to him that we were on our way to collect pine cones nearby for our nature-inspired tree. The florist, thankfully, informed us that we had to bake the pine cones on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 200-degrees for about an hour to avoid our home being infested with bugs! Excellent tip. After collecting piles of pine cones, we visited the local market for some fresh cranberries to string and cinnamon sticks to tie.

As the kids helped to organize the pine cones for baking, thread the cranberries, wrap the pine cones and cinnamon sticks, place the baby's breath--and add their own handmade "ornaments" to the collection--I realized what a gift it is to celebrate this special season with a nature-inspired, child-focused Christmas tree.

And you know what? It is simply elegant.


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  1. Brilliant as usual, Kerry. My oldest daughter was complaining that our tree "always looks the same, every year", but I couldn't think of anything to make it different without spending a lot of money (which I didn't want to do.) But now, thanks to you, I am inspired! We are going to gather pine cones this afternoon (before it rains!) and I already have the cinnamon sticks and cranberries.

    Keep the brilliance coming, dear friend! You are a cherished sister-blogger, and I hold you in much love in my heart.

  2. What a beautiful tree and a wonderful idea! A meaningful Christmas complete with traditions is fantastic. Thanks for sharing! I am going to share this on my facebook page.

  3. What great ideas! My husband and I are partial to winter solstice celebrations so we've been thinking about new traditions to bring in to our home. Your tree has given me inspiration. I love that the kids can be so involved as well.

  4. I adore this idea Kerry! We decided to skip the tree this year for various reasons, but from next year on this is going to become part of our tradition too - so very grateful to you for sharing!

  5. Your Christmas tree is beautiful, what a lovely idea! We've been making our own ornaments from toilet paper rolls and everything else we can find around the house and the thought briefly crossed my mind that we should go out and collect some cones, and then just as quickly I forgot... Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Oh, I love it! And I love your explanations tying the hardiness to the Solstice tree's origins. We've had much the same experience — till now, I was a big believer in "less is more" when it came to tree decorating. I often ignored ornaments that had been gifted to us over the years. This year, my four-year-old dumped out ALL the ornaments and then proceeded to put every single one on the tree. Not the style I'd envisioned, but beautiful all the same. I do like your idea of a natural tree, though — we were thinking of stringing cranberries and popcorn, so maybe we'll go all out next year!

  7. I absolutely adore the idea of a nature-inspired Christmas tree, what a clever idea! Thank you so much for sharing, I hope to create a nature-inspired Christmas tree of our own next year.

    Terri Babin

  8. Thank you for participating in the Mindful Mama Carnival.

    I love this idea. Anything that gets the family involved involved in activities that bring them closer to nature and simplicity are inspiring of mindfulness. We are doing a similar project this year, as well on our trees outside. Our trees look festive and the birds are happily visiting.