Every year at Thanksgiving my family puts up our Christmas tree. If my husband had his way we’d put it up as soon as Halloween is over. But each year I insist we wait until the day after Thanksgiving. I’m definitely a “one holiday at a time” kind of girl.
I love putting up our Christmas tree. There is nothing like putting on some holiday music and having my whole family working together to put the tree up. We each have our own jobs. My husband and usually one of our boys assemble the tree. I “fluff” the branches and put on the lights. Then all four of us decorate the tree with the ornaments.
As I was handing the ornaments to my sons to hang on the tree, I realized that our tree has quite a story to tell. Each and every ornament has some kind of sentimental value attached to it; or a special story of how it came to be on our tree.
Here is the story of our Christmas tree…
There are 36 ornaments on our tree that were gifts from my grandmother. Each year she would give all of her grandchildren a special ornament just for them. And so, I have one for each year of my life that she was alive. Every time I look at them, they remind me of her. I can see her beautiful smiling face, hear her voice, and feel her love in each of those 36 ornaments.
My mother began that same tradition for my children. So each of my boys has an ornament for each year of their little lives so far. And they will continue to receive them as long as my mother is alive. Then, when they are older and move out of our house and have a Christmas tree of their own, they will take their ornaments with them to start their own traditions.
I have ornaments on my tree that are reminders of my mother and sister and our Christmases when I was growing up. My mother has a collection of hand-painted wooden ornaments. I loved them so much that I asked her if I could take a few when I got married. She graciously gave them to me; including my favorite ornament, which features two toy soldiers that twirl in and out of a little wooden doorway. That toy soldier ornament is always front and center on our tree.
When my family was living in Chicago, every year I would go to the German Christkindle Market with my girlfriends. It was my favorite Chicago holiday tradition. The Christkindle Market was filled with the most beautiful authentic German ornaments, clothing, and wares, I had ever seen (not to mention the German chocolate house!). Every year I would buy at least two special German ornaments. Some years I’d buy three or four.
Since moving to Columbia, that is one of the traditions I have missed the most. There aren’t any Christkindle markets in the area, but each year my mom will buy me an authentic German Christmas ornament from my favorite German retailer from the market (what would we do without the internet, right?!). Each of my German ornaments now sit proudly on a branch of their very own Christmas tree. And each night as I look at that tree, I smile and my heart fills with love and joy at the thought of the happy memories each ornament brings.
One year, I was in a store and saw the most beautiful chandelier ornament. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I so desperately wanted to buy one. But money was tight so I wasn’t able to get it. A couple of weeks later I was at the mom’s group I attended at my church. It was our Christmas party and ornament exchange. When it came time for me to open my ornament, I pulled out a delicate pink chandelier ornament. I started to cry. It’s true what they say, it’s the little things in life that matter the most. That ornament sits in a place of prominence on our tree each year as a reminder of God’s blessings in my life.
There are probably at least six ornaments on our tree celebrating my husband and me. We have our “First Christmas” ornaments, ornaments with our names on them, a cute husband and wife snowmen ornament, and a couple more. All a reminder of our love and commitment to each other.
Then there are those wonderful ornaments that remind me of my children. There are the ornaments from their teachers that have a ribbon attached showing how tall they were that year. There are the cinnamon ornaments we made together all decorated with googly eyes and sequins. One even has a bite taken out of it because my youngest thought they were edible. That one always makes me laugh when I pull it out.
I have quite a collection of other homemade ornaments on our tree as well. Tons of paper, felt, and foam ornaments made by my children’s little hands. There are the knit ornaments handcrafted by my grandmother that serve as a reminder of all those days I’d sit in her living room with her just watching as she made crafts. I also have a few handmade ones from an ornament exchange I participate in each year with a very special Facebook group I’m a part of. Those ornaments feed into my geeky side and I proudly display each and every one.
Lastly, I have the vintage ornaments that belonged to my dad’s mother. They are the kind that has a spinner on the inside and if you place them on the tree over a light, the heat from the light makes the spinner spin. When I was a little girl I used to stand at my grandmother’s tree and watch them spin for minutes on end. These are my reminders of her and all the Christmases spent at her house.
My tree tells quite a story. I’m guessing yours does as well.