DD11 has a birthday in a few days, and will become DD12. She has been mentioning this with increasing frequency, as if we would forget.
But the scary thing is that her birthday means we are less than 3 months from Christmas! I pretty much refuse to start preparing until December. I like Thanksgiving, and I like to devote some attention to that, without feeling like it is just the big meal before Black Friday.
A post on an email list suggested an ornament exchange, and that led me to think about our family holiday tradition, the paper tree.
When my girls were very young (maybe 3 and 6), we had a holiday with no money. I was on a church list, but by Christmas Eve, it was clear that a tree was not going to arrive, and I didn't have $60 to buy one. I had some gifts ready, but OMG, no way was I going to face Christmas morning explaining why there was no tree.
So I invented a new tradition. I had a roll of wide green floral ribbon scrounged from somewhere, and I cut sort diagonal lengths from it. I taped them to a wall in a tree shape, and cut a trunk shape out of a paper grocery bag. Then we spent the rest of the night making paper decorations. Little paper chains, all sorts of cut out paper ornaments, shiny bits of wrapping paper. We flipped a coin to see who would draw the star for the top. They were so proud of their work, and couldn't wait for Santa to see it.
Now the girls are 11 and 15, and we celebrate a variety of holidays - Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year - but we still do a paper tree. We make new ornaments every year. The girls have taken over making the tree base now, and then spend December making ornaments. I won't let them start until December 1st.
Sometimes they use floral ribbon, sometimes they draw it, or make 3D paper branches. All paper ornaments. And it all gets recycled or composted in January. No storage, no buying decorations - we do collect used wrapping paper, Christmas cards, shiny bits, stickers, etc. and use assorted art supplies. But we would do that anyway. :-)
Sometimes I do miss the tree-hunting tradition of my childhood - but then I just look at the price of a tree, and I feel A-OK!
If the mention of Christmas in September has you freaked out, too, just join me in refusing to talk about it until December.