The Toddler and the Tree

One thing that may be on your mind at this time of year is whether or not to have a Christmas tree. Christmas trees are irresistible to toddlers, with all of the shiny ornaments and twinkling lights just begging to be touched. Toddlers can easily knock a tree over, break ornaments and get cut, or get tangled in cords from the lights. Since Christmas trees can pose a danger to your toddler, you are wise to consider whether or not to have one in your home.

For Dylan’s first Christmas, he was a month old. He was always either asleep in his bassinet or in our arms. We had a real tree, in the corner of the living room, and there was no issue. For his second and third Christmases, I placed a tiny tree in the middle of the dining room table and decorated it. It was cute, but I really like having a tree that we can put gifts under. Many people do simply place a baby gate around the base of their tree. We do not have one of those large gates, and Dylan could probably climb over it, so that is not a good solution for us.

This year, Dylan is three and Blake is almost nine months old. A regular Christmas tree in the corner of our living room would last two seconds between the two of them. Dylan runs around the house at top speed and Blake crawls all over everywhere, also at top speed, in hot pursuit. Last week, I figured out how we could have a bigger tree this year, so that we can put gifts under it.

Since the boys and I share a bedroom on the main floor of our house, we have a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the second floor. Behind the gate, there are two steps up to a landing and then a set of stairs leading to the second floor. I realized that if I got a very slender tree, we could set it up on the landing.

I also knew that I wanted to go into the woods and cut down a tree. I’m pretty sure that what transpired has the makings of an annual tradition, the Christmas Tree Hike. I needed another adult to accompany me into the woods with the boys, in order to make it possible to safely cut and carry a tree, so I called up my father in law. He was happy to go with us, as he enjoys spending time outdoors, so we set off on our hike. It turns out that there are not many evergreens in the woods near our house, so it took us a while to find a tree. After about an hour, we found one and Grandpa let Dylan help him cut it down. We brought it home, and after a lot of trimming, it was slender enough to fit on the landing.

Dylan was eager to decorate the tree, so after I put the lights on it, I let him hang the ornaments where he could reach. We just used our salt dough ornaments and some jingle bells that he had picked out, so there was no concern over breakage. I added a few to the upper branches, and there it was, our Christmas tree. Dylan loves it, and even though it is more Charlie Brown than Martha Stewart, I love it too.