I just have to get this off my chest. Really retailers, Valentine’s Day candy, already?

I walked into a children’s clothing store the other day to buy the twins new hats and gloves because Texas decided to go with the flow and feel like winter. As soon as I opened the door, the first thing I saw was a display boasting Valentine’s wear.

I thought Christmas in September was bad, but Valentine’s Day in December is just too much for me.

Whew, now I feel better.

Christmas comes around at the same time every year, and every year I feel like it sneaks up on me — and this year is no different. Last Christmas, my kids were a month shy of their first birthday and really weren’t phased by much of the festive happenings going on around them.

They were, however, mesmerized by our Christmas tree. Even though they couldn’t walk just yet, they were able to pull themselves up on the boxes we had blockading the tree. As I think back to last year, watching them get on their tiptoes and extend their little arms as much as they could to touch the tree still makes me laugh.

Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation (seriously, will we ever sleep again?), or the fact that we are trying to sell our house (it’s still for sale) or the fact that my twin toddlers are like a tornado wrapped in a hurricane — but this year we didn’t get a tree.


My husband did put some lights on the front of the house and we did decorate our mantle and hang stockings, but the tree never happened.

The weekend we set out to pick a tree at a local tree farm ended up being a wet-weather bust and, after that, life and colds got the best of us.

To be honest, the idea of going up into the attic to find our Christmas tree garb didn’t seem appealing, nor did cleaning up pine needles, broken ornaments or sounding like a broken record telling the kids to leave the tree alone.

Instead of the traditional home centerpiece, this year I made the kids a felt tree. Complete with a felt tree topper, felt gifts and felt ornaments.

Yes, I said felt.

A quick trip to the craft store, some tracing and cutting later, I slapped my makeshift Christmas tree onto the wall.

No pine needle mess, no broken ornaments and they can fuss with it to their hearts’ content.

Sometimes I impress myself when I #MomSoHard, because it doesn’t happen often.

Since we are in the process of trying to sell our home (seriously, stop building new houses), I began to explore the very real possibility of being a landlord — so I decided to educate myself on the whole property management side of the game by meeting with a property manager.

The first thing she noticed was our lack of a Christmas tree, but like the proud peacock I am, I quickly directed her to my homemade felt creation.

She gave me a quick chuckle and commented on my creative genius because, although her kids all grown, she remembers many a Christmas wishing she didn’t have to deal with the tree.

Either she really liked my tree or she was trying to make me feel like less of a parenting failure to get down to our business, but either way I like the darn felt tree.

Every family has their own set of traditions and things that are near and dear to them. For me, it’s taking the kids on a night-time pajama drive through the neighborhood to see all the lights and decorations and to see their faces light up when they see the big, beautifully decorated trees at the department stores as we make our way to scream on Santa’s lap.

Maybe next year the weather will cooperate with us and the kids will be able to trim the tree with us, and that will become our holiday thing. But for now, I am at peace with putting their gifts underneath my homemade felt Christmas tree.

Vanessa Lynch is an Army spouse, mother and a former metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald.

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