Let me tell you a sweet story about my first Christmas with my now husband. When Joshua J. Hayward and I were dating we were poor. Dirt poor. We could only afford a small gift for each other, and certainly could not afford a tree. So Josh, being the sweetheart and he is, gets a box and draws a tree on the box with sidewalk chalk. We put our presents in the box. The next year he pulled out the same box, and repeated the exercise. For six years we used the box. Eventually we graduated university and I was able to afford a real live tree. Josh continued to argue for the box, citing nostalgia and romance as the reason, but in reality, he was cheap. I would have none of it, I grew up with a real tree and a real tree we would have.

Each year we have a tree. I’d like to tell you we were local supporters for tree; however, the $25 Ikea cost was too attractive so we went every year and receive a pretty lush tree, decorated with our kids and ate way too much food. Memories were made.

This past April Josh and I both lost our jobs. Troopers that we are, we bucked up and slowly figured life out, but this holiday season is tight. We have not stressed too much; having kept low expectations for our kids each year has made this year look not much different than other years! Kidding, but in fact I have been a shark at trading stuff around the house for cool items for the kids. We know we can provide a nice holiday for us all, but the question of whether or not the Christmas box would come back was discussed. Should we buy one or use that precious money towards groceries or paying the god for saken hydro bill? While we were thinking on it, a lovely lady on my facebook page was offering a free organic tree from her farm. I took her up on this offer, humbled by her generosity. I was excited like a kid on, well, Christmas.

A friend picked it up for us and we came home and were awestruck…at how..um…bare it was. It seemed to be missing many branches and those that were there had,  well, take a look to the right.  There is  nothing wrong with it at all, it was just, um, different than we were used to. Now perhaps others would spend time complaining about the tree, but I thanked the woman for the amazing gift and she showed me hers, which was quite similar.  She said to fill it with ornaments and it will be beautiful!

We would never complain, it was different than what we were used to, but it was a tree, it didn’t cost anything and it was given to us with love. It reminded me of my baba who we all miss very much. Every year she would find a figurine or something that 100% was not in our taste, but we knew she picked it out special for us, and hey, who can’t use another mermaid figurine?

We started to decorate this tree and it has to be the best time we have had as a family this year. The garland was too heavy for the tree and the trunk was so think that the stand could not keep it straight so it kept falling down. We laughed, had fun and put much energy into filling as many gaps as we could. When it was done we all agreed; this was the ugliest tree ever, but it was our favourite and will bring the most memories!

Our motto since both of us being laid off has been to make the best of what we have, and to follow life and the opportunities that lie in front of us. If a nice lady says she has a tree for us, then we take said tree and make it the best darned Hayward tree we can.  Our motto this Christmas, and our motto in life is to make the most with what we have, and worry not about what we could have. This is our holiday perspective. We work for what we can do but why worry about the rest? My raspberry thumbprints don’t look like the pinterest pictures? So w hat! They sure taste good!  Our tree may not be a full figured one, but as I am downsizing my weight, so too did this year’s tree, which was given to us with love from an organic tree farmer, and for that, our perspective is thankful each and every day.  When you have that attitude of gratitude, everything can be fun! So don’t stress the holidays.  Lower expectations for yourself and make the best with what you have.

Look below to the final tree and our pinterest failed cookies.  I’ll be blogging about the holidays for the next 12 days, so keep coming back!   Also consider subscribing to the cool meal plan coming this January!

Also floss!