The wind was howling as I sat at my computer with a cup of steaming hot chocolate. It had been snowing all day and I was grateful we picked up the Christmas tree the day before. I opened my draperies so that I could watch the huge flakes falling, turned on the radio to a station playing Christmas carols, and decorated our Christmas tree.
Of all the many things I love about Christmas, I think ornaments are my favorite. When I go to friends’ homes or public places and see the professional looking trees, all in gold and silver or white, all themed, ornaments matching and complimenting each other, am awed, but no tree has ever looked so beautiful as mine…each year as I decorate it, it is a trip down memory lane…my life thus far.
I remember the first year I was married, my very first tree looked beautiful…almost professionally trimmed with lights and garlands and ornaments, decorated as those of some of my friends or those at the mall. My mom had given me several ornaments that I had made as a child. It was sentimental and warmed my heart, but those ornaments definitely would be hung out of general sight, if at all.
In a few years we had children, and with children come home-made ornaments and little tree decorators. For so very many years I’d try to take those home-made ornaments and put them on the side of the tree that faced the wall or window. For many years my tree was bottom heavy with ornaments placed on the lower branches by the kids. I didn’t mind. I liked my homey, eclectic tree. As the years went on and I collected more ornaments, almost each one had special a meaning…the first one my ex-husband ever bought me…the Christmas we were not yet married but had purchased a home; the old glass balls from my grandma’s tree, souvenir ornaments…the lobster from Boston, the Statue of Liberty from New York, the seashell from Florida, the Senor from Mexico, the Eskimo from Alaska. I proudly hung those ornaments on the tree and put the ones I made many years ago, along with the many of the ones my daughters made, toward the wall or under the garland.
I couldn’t wait for my kids to start school so that I could decorate the tree the way I wanted to. Those first couple of years were wonderful…I’d make coffee or pour a glass of wine, turn on Christmas music and decorate away, reminiscing about the origins of probably 80% of my ornaments. So many hold special memories…birds and grapes always remind me of my mother as they are her favorites. I have several cross-stitched ornaments made by my deceased sister. The ornaments with photos of family no longer with us remind me of how proud I am of my family tree and the hardships those before me endured. Dressing our tree while my children were in school was MY time. Then, slowly it wasn’t so fun to do it alone anymore. The kids, at that point in time probably ages 8, 11, and 13, didn’t care about decorating the tree. Two of my three adult children still live with me but are busy adults. Over the years how I’ve wished we could once again decorate the tree as a family.
I have been helping my mom put up her tree for many years and she prominently wants all those homemade ornaments from my sisters and me, and from her grandkids displayed so that everyone can see them. Many years I wondered why. She has so many beautiful store-bought ornaments. Why would she want those paper balls, popsicle stick Rudolphs, and yarn wreaths so prominently displayed? This year, for some reason, I understand, and my tree, which I just finished dressing, has all those expensive ornaments disbursed here and there and toward the wall. But, all those beautiful ornaments I made as a child and the even more beautiful ones my children made when they were young are hung on the most prominent branches for everyone to see.