I have a strange tradition. Every year I watch my husband drag a cardboard box down from the attic. Then we assemble a fake Christmas tree, fluff its spiky branches, and place a silver star at the very top. Luckily, the white lights are already strung, so we don’t have to check every bulb before weaving the strands throughout the tree–like our parents had to do.
Wait, you do the same thing? We all have pine trees in our living rooms?
This is truly curious. Something about displaying evergreens in our homes must speak to our genetic makeup since people have been decorating them for thousands of years. Before Christians adopted the tradition, Pagans celebrated the winter solstice by hanging still-green tree branches in their dwellings.
We must crave the light and the hope that they bring to our lives in this dark season. I know I do.
My Christmas tree is a real point of pride for me. I hand-selected every ornament, usually the day after Christmas to score the best deal. Most of them are from a garden store near my hometown, but I collected other ones on trips or special occasions.
The thing is that every ornament holds a story for me. They are part keepsake and part memory. Each one carries sentimental value, and they reflect a piece of my identity–the one that I built over time and through the struggles.
They somehow keep me warm and make me smile, even when it’s pitch black long before dinner time.
My favorite is the ornament is the one I sent my husband when we were engaged. He was serving in Iraq and wouldn’t be home for Christmas. I wrote a sappy note, put it in the box, and insisted we read it every year before decorating the tree. Now that shiny star gets prime real estate in the front of the tree and at eye level. This is its ninth year in that very spot.
When I was too young to remember, my grandma gave me a trio of porcelain Santas. They were on my parents’ tree for years. Now, they are a part of my little family’s tradition. My daughter likes to find them and then wave feverishly while also pretending to be shy. New memories on top of old.
Then there is the glitzy, lime green one that caught my eye. I loved its sparkle and Art Deco feel, so I couldn’t pass it up. I remember thinking that most people wouldn’t like it. But I decided to buy it anyway because it was my tree. In my early twenties, I was still learning my own taste and how to assert my independence one Christmas ornament at a time.
Our newest addition is from Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. I spotted it in the gift shop last Christmas and wanted to get it. But my modest Midwest roots and the outlandish price collided. There was no way I was going to pay $20 for a breakable ornament, especially while we have a toddler. In the end, my husband surprised me. He drove through downtown traffic one evening after work to get it. Talk about special.
That’s why Christmastime is magical. It has the power to transport us through time and back again. I wonder about my future ornaments. What stories are yet to come?
Share the stories in your Christmas tree with us, or post a photo of your favorite ornament. We would love to hear about your holiday memories.