As I write this, fall is finally starting to tease its way back in to the Pacific Northwest and my children are quickly reminding me that Christmas is coming. They are already plotting out what to make each other for gifts and counting down the days, much to my dislike, as I have much to do in preparations. I too, however, must admit to looking forward to the holiday season myself. I am already thinking of special meals with friends and creating new traditions with my girls that will continue into the rest of our holidays to come.
Last year was a big first for us when we actually chopped down our first Christmas tree. I wasn’t raised with celebrating Christmas, so the traditions that some might think of as expected have been making a whole new meaning for me. We’ve been making up our traditions as we go for the last few years and I’m always adding more detailed touches to the things I want our girls to remember most about their childhood. Having recently moved to the Pacific Northwest, evergreen trees are taking on new meanings for me, and having the chance to bring one indoors for even a small amount of time is simply amazing! There is an elegance that comes from having a live tree in your home and somehow it feels like the house is filled with life in a way that it never was before.
A Tree For Many Seasons Ornament
To commemorate our first live Christmas tree, I asked my husband to save our tree (branches removed) and dry it out so that we could make a keepsake. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it. Our tree from last year has been drying out ever since and is ready to become something special for this year’s tree! I had my husband cut a section of the tree off, making a disc about 3/8 of inch thick. We then sanded both sides of the disc smooth with sandpaper and a hole was drilled so a ribbon could be added for hanging it on the tree this year.
Since it was our first tree, I wanted to use an image that depicted its significance. I chose to use a rubber stamp that showed a little tree in the back of a truck, but you could just as easily sketch your own image on using pencil.
Then I used the stamped image (or pencil drawing) for a guide and wood-burned in the detail. This of course could just be left as a stamped image if you were so inclined.
The wood burner burns off the ink/pencil so your finished product is just the detail of your wood burning.
Paint can be added to give the image some more color. Check to be sure you are using AP Certified non-toxic watercolors. Depending on the grain of the wood, sometimes paint can soak in and bleed. I recommend that you practice on a scrap of the wood before you make your final product. Or, you can just wood burn and leave the natural color of the wood as is.
Once the painting has dried, the final step is sealing in the paint, or just adding sealer to protect the wood from drying out. I use a homemade sealer made by melting one part beeswax to three parts of an oil like olive or jojoba. It smells wonderful and is great for all of your wood creations and toys.
Our family traditions include decorating the tree together and reminiscing over each of our special ornaments, as they all have some story behind them. I can’t wait to have this new ornament on our tree, but mostly I look forward to remembering the day we first chopped it down and the new tradition that we started. Memories of a cold wet day, candy canes and hot chocolate will surely be part of the story.
Hallie Lindal is a mother, home educator and third generation puppet maker living with her husband and two girls in Washington state. She has an Etsy shop and a blog where she shares their adventures.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.