Our holiday traditions have evolved over time, as they should. The childhood season of presents has given way to a season of simplicity in adulthood – quiet hours, comfort foods, making warm memories with family and friends. It’s less about the “stuff” and more about celebrating the season of the Winter Solstice. Our annual holiday tree is a reflection of that evolution: transforming what was once a traditional Christmas tree into a serene Solstice tree.
The Winter Solstice is on December 22nd and marks the shortest, darkest day of the year. Yet among that fading light we see grace, strength and hope for brighter days lie ahead. Decorating a holiday tree is an old custom dating back thousands of year. Our modern-day version of the holiday tree now displays a collection of the nature-inspired beauty that surrounds us.
Vintage glass birds perch on the upper branches. They appear to be fluttering around the simple ornaments that mark the milestones of our lives: baby’s first Christmas, handmade treasures from a loved one who has passed, the simple silhouette of the historic church where we promised to love each other forever.
The lower boughs have plump, felted birds. They remind me of the many critters I catch fluttering from one seed head to another in our garden at this time of year. Wooden owls keep watch between twinkling white lights. Juniper has been having so much fun arranging, then rearranging, their locations.
I found these adorable pine cones at World Market, but I love the idea of making more of these as an activity for small hands. Juniper and I are now keeping our eyes peeled on neighborhood walks for more pine cones. It would be especially fun to collect them from some of our favorite places around Oregon.
The top of the tree is home to a funky, 1950’s copper star. I bought this from an estate sale for my first tree when I lived alone in my early twenties – before Jay, before kids, back when my windowsills were crowded with potted herbs. What a journey it’s been since those days.
We purged lots of holiday items this year before putting up our decorations, which felt great. We are holding onto what we love most and parting with objects that don’t hold meaning. Every little thing on this tree is something we adore about our life together, our homestead and this special time of year.
How do you deck your halls at this time of year? Is it subtle or sparkly? An explosion of fancies or a curated selection? Looking for a simpler way to mark the solstice? Check out the Solstice Swag we put together last year and how you can make your own!