It's beginning to feel and look a lot like Christmas, different and all as it now is with four kids, what more could any parent want?

Decorating the tree just isn't what it used to be. It used to be that we'd gear up for a big day out and hike into the woods somewhere to find the perfect tree. After several heated but friendly debates about trees that were too tall/short/fat/thin, we'd settle on one, lug it home, bring it inside and decorate it. Possibly with a nice bottle of wine and a fire in the fireplace. The next day, we'd wake up, turn on the Christmas tree lights and revel in the glory of our totally terrific tree.

When did this last happen? Hmmm.

It's hard to remember – perhaps because for three of the past six years, we had a newborn (or newborns!) at Christmas time and I'm suffering from a major case of mom-nesia. What I can tell you based on our recent tree-trimming experience is that what used to take a day, now takes at least week.

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Our annual tree-trimming has become a tale in four parts:

Buy the tree

It's the most wonderful time of the the squabbles commence!

It's the most wonderful time of the the squabbles commence!

This may or may not be a family affair. Last year my husband bought a tree on the way home from work one Friday night. No debate, no fanfare. It just arrived on our front porch. And there it stayed for several days until we found the time and energy to lug it inside. This year it was a family event – at a local supermarket. Not exactly prime for photo ops and warm, fuzzy memories!

Bring the tree inside

Choosing a tree in the past has been a family affair.

Choosing a tree in the past has been a family affair.

This year, we successfully managed to get the tree from the porch to the living room and into the tree stand all in one day. Quite a feat with five little ones tearing around – two of whom were giddy making lists for Santa Claus and three of whom "no like that guy!"

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Light up the tree

"Toddlers like to get tangled up in the lights!"

"Toddlers like to get tangled up in the lights!"

We learned the hard way that toddlers like to get tangled up in the lights so we now put them on after our little ones are all tucked in. This year, it was a random Tuesday after a long day of work. We were both bleary-eyed and even Burl Ives crooning in the background couldn't put us in the Christmas spirit. It felt more like an obligation or chore rather than the festive event it used to be. Even so, it was nice to come down the next day to see our tree all lit up... even if the branches were still lacked ornaments.

Decorate the tree

Now it's starting to feel like Christmas.

Now it's starting to feel like Christmas.

Now, this is it – the grand finale, the moment we've all been waiting for. It's Friday night and the kids have been asking for a week if we're ever going to decorate the tree. I've lugged boxes of decorations up from the basement, Christmas tunes are blaring and our five little elves are eager to get the job done. And, indeed, they do.

It is finally beginning to look – and feel – a lot like Christmas. So what if what used to take a day now takes a week? So what if a few ornaments broke in the process? So what if the tree is a bit crooked, has some bare spots and all the ornaments are clustered together in just a few spots? We had fun. In fact, we had a lot of fun. And when Liam said, "we're really happy, huh Mom?", it was as if Christmas arrived a little bit early this year. Because really, what more could any parent want?

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* Originally published in 2010.

How do you and your family tackle Christmas decorating? Tell us about it in the comments!