This year Kirk and I bought our very own Christmas tree. A real one. We weren’t able to hike into a snowy forest and chop it down (one of Kirk’s family’s traditions); though driving two blocks to buy a pre-cut tree was pretty convenient.

Self-cut or not, our apartment still smells like pine. It’s lovely.

It’s January and I’m writing about Christmas trees, I know, but ours is still up, and I’m relishing it as long as possible.

The last two Christmases Kirk and I have spent together without our families. Kirk and I are now creating traditions that are hybrids from our childhoods, like going out to dinner on Christmas Eve (adopted from his family) and playing games on Christmas Day (from mine).

We now open presents over Skype.

It’s been a change not being with our families. After hanging up my Christmas morning Skype call with my family, I lay under the tree thinking about my sister, her boyfriend and my parents back in Wisconsin, the snow outside their windows covering the trees and blanketing the ground. I missed them (even though they were just here in Carlsbad a few weeks ago), and felt sad we weren’t spending Christmas together.

Holidays magnify the bittersweetness of our changing lives.

On Christmas morning, Kirk and I baked cinnamon rolls and exchanged gifts. We rode bikes to the ocean, set up the slackline and cooked out with Kyle and Dana. It was the most non-traditional Christmas we’ve ever had — yet just as memorable, maybe more, than all the years before. ☼