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Advent Preparations

Our Advent celebrations wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving. It begins with a hunt for the perfect tree. This year, the weather couldn't have been better. We walked and giggled. We snapped pictures and gathered hedge apples.
My youngest baby
My oldest baby
After some beautiful hiking and tree-hunting, the boys found a beautiful tree.
In the end, we decided it just didn't have the branch strength to hold our ornaments.

We were losing daylight, so we decided to take our tree-hunt to the local grocery store. There, we found the most beautiful Christmas tree God ever grew. Missouri-grown. That's almost like finding it ourselves, right?

While the menfolk figured out how to make it stand up straight in its stand, the girls and I worked on our traditional decorating feast. It hit me several years ago that I make special foods for the parties of the seasons, pulling out the special dishes and expensive ingredients for other people, but my family only enjoys these things by association. This is the night we make the special foods for the purpose of sharing each other.

That said, it is generally just a fancy cold-plate meal with olives and cheeses and such. This year, we decided that a bacon ring will be part of tradition from here out. 
A pre-baked, easy but amazing treat.
I have no idea why, but my kids think that posing as a mad-scientist in front of the meal should be part of the tradition.
  The kids take turns putting on the star each year. This year was Honor's turn. That means that tomorrow, she'll also be the first one to light the Advent candle.

When we first got married, we had around 3 ornaments, plus gold Christmas balls. These were a wedding gift from some thoughtful church family members. Each year, we make or buy an ornament for each of us. For 8 years now, that means 6 new ornaments per year. There aren't very many years left before our oldest marries and begins his own tree. He will take his ornaments with him and have the beginning of his own family's Advent preparation traditions.

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"Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread." - Victor Hugo