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Managing Editor Anne Endicott recalls her family's changing holiday traditions as the years go along.

What's your favorite holiday tradition?

A cookie exchange with friends? White elephant gifts with family on Christmas Eve? Maybe it's the arrival of Aunt Martha's homemade fudge.

According to my daughter, as she announced to her entire fifth-grade classroom many years ago, "It's not Christmas at our house until my mom and dad fight over the tree."

Anne EndicottSome things probably shouldn't be shared with those required to report questionable home environments.

Years earlier, for our first Christmas as new parents, I envisioned a bucolic family outing in search of THE perfect tree for our daughter. DH (Dear Husband) humored me and we set off to scour tree lots with said child in a classic pink snowsuit.

I admit, I'm fussy about my tree — Doug fir, fat, full and to the floor. After the third lot, DH lost his humor. He grabbed a tree that made Charlie Brown's look healthy and headed to the car.

DH only went once after that — when we went to an actual tree farm and cut our own. His presence probably had more to do with not trusting me with a saw than the whole family experience.

I grew up in a Catholic household. By the first Sunday in Advent, an heirloom nativity scene always decorated a table in the living room. It was an antique papier-maché affair my mother inherited from her mother and probably came from Europe at one time. Over years of use, limbs on the barnyard animals began to break and the colorful paint on the figures chipped. It became a real problem when the Baby Jesus lost his head though. Mom bought a newer ceramic Christ Child figurine, in case the original couldn't be repaired, but leave it to an electrical engineer (my father) to solve the problem — he just nailed Jesus' head back on.

Years later, I inherited that creche. The animals are missing more legs, the paint is further chipped, but the Baby Jesus still has his head.

Up until the time my kids entered elementary school, I had control over decorations on the tree. My ornaments weren't family heirlooms, but more a collection of wooden representations of the interests in our family — golf, hockey, soccer. It was either kindergarten or first grade when my daughter learned how to make paper chains. Bless that teacher — she also told her paper chains made great tree ornaments.

I didn't want to dampen my daughter's enthusiasm to be an active participant in the holiday decorating. So, I cut paper strips, handed her a glue stick and said, "rock on." Then I told DH to watch her, so I could run a quick errand.

DH never would have passed an American Red Cross baby-sitting course. He "watched" the child — as she glued each finger to individual paper strips.

I confess I do miss the chaos and anticipation of the holidays with little people in the fray. Assembling Hot Wheels race tracks and Barbie houses into the wee hours of Christmas morning, or "testing" Santa's big gift (a Nintendo) behind closed doors thinking we were all big, bad and secretive, still make for great dinner conversation.

But the upside to this stage in life is that there's less pressure to get everything up and festooned over Thanksgiving weekend. I've taken to putting up the tree later than I used to and pretty much abandoned those fat, full Doug firs.

A few years ago, I started a new tradition. I brought home a flocked three-foot tree. Some lights and few ornaments later, it rested happily on the coffee table in the family room.

It didn't quite seem like Christmas though. DH liked that one.

Anne Endicott is the managing editor of The Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News.


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