Holiday Traditions, Step Families, and Adaptability

My unexpected trip home on Monday night meant I got to enjoy the fruits of our Christmas-tree-decorating a little extra.  We don't have one in our apartment, because of the combined depressing facts: we're broke, and a tree simply wouldn't fit.  We hardly fit.

Christmas tree decorating has been a Thanksgiving break tradition since I was little, and it's one of the traditions that my mom, dad and I share with my step-family.  The first holiday/s spent with my step-family took some getting used to, as they did things different than the way I always had with my family when my mom was alive.  As much as I liked my new family, I couldn't help but be a bit resentful initially that everything and everyone was so drastically different, which I suppose, in retrospect, is an emotion typical of the mourning cycle.  (As I write, this "In My Life" by the Beatles comes on Pandora.... well timed, Pandora, well timed). 

Now, I love my step-family very much, and all new traditions have become old hat after five (six?) years.  So, keeping up with precedent, we decorated the same fake tree my dad bought at either K-Mart or the PX when I was in second grade, (and it still looks impressive for an aging, plastic tree), over Thanksgiving break. 

Lennon gets roped into helping my dad assemble the tree.  Translation: "stand here and be useful."

My neice, Shelby's, favorite game with Aunt Courtney = aeronautics + dancing to Christmas music.

Aunt Amanda gets in on the fun, but isn't nearly as cool as Aunt Courtney.  Regardless, Bella is jealous of this other puppy-like-thing stealing the attention of her momma.

Amy, (Shelby's momma), Courtney, Shelby, Bitsy, and Carla, trying to keep Shelby from knocking over a marble side table.

We play a game called hide-the-ugly-ornaments-we-made-as-kids.  Courtney already won the prize of ugliest ornament.  And I'm not being mean - she's proud of the title. 

When I was little, my dad would pick me up to put this vintage angel from my Grandmother Mary on the top of the tree.  I may have gained a bit of weight since then.  Height to the rescue.

The extent of our own holiday decor: a string of red lights and a string of multi-colored, thumb tacked to the walls and ceiling.  I like it.

What traditions do you have on the holidays?  I'm also curious about the experiences of other people who've had to assimilate into a new world order of family, traditions, and everything else.  Ha - another good example - trying to find a Christmas tree in Izmir, Turkey, my ninth grade year!  Thank goodness for two foot pipe cleaner trees from the PX.  We certainly didn't ship the monster tree with us overseas.  After moving back stateside, it became a new tradition to have a "Turkish tree" decorated with "ornaments" bought from the Konak Bazaar - copper stars and moons, mini-mittens.  Now all those ornaments are in a box in my closet, and I'm carefully saving them for my future family tree.