The memories from my Christmas ornaments tell their own story.
Christmas Ornaments and Their Stories
Outside, there’s a fresh dusting of white powdery snow on the ground. Decorative lights twinkle throughout the neighborhood. The house smells of sugar, peppermint and other delicious scents lingering from holiday baking. The Christmas tree stands proudly in the living room, festooned with garland, twinkling lights and a myriad of Christmas ornaments. Each ornament special in the memories it brings forth. Ah, the stories these ornaments tell!
There’s the little Santa ball hanging near the top of the tree. It’s really a silver ball with thin red felt covering all but its’ face where eyes, nose and mouth have been comically painted in. He has a dangling white cotton beard. The beard’s getting a mite thin now, as this Santa was my first ornament and must be 35 years old or more. It was always on our tree when I was growing up. I used to stand on tiptoes to look at it, knowing it was mine.
We always had bells on the family Christmas tree. They were placed on the bottom tier where I, as a child, could jingle them in gleeful delight!
Chuckling, I look up near the top of the tree at the “Untouchables”. These were the ornaments that my mother placed on our tree, as we kids weren’t allowed to touch them. They were old and fragile, she said. I think they may have been on my grandparents’ tree. Well, they’re older now, still fragile, and 2 of them grace my tree. Every year, as I pull the box of ornaments out to decorate the tree, I’m afraid to touch these. Of course, I won’t let my son hang them on the tree. They’re old and fragile, I say. I guess I am my mother’s daughter after all!
Not far from the “Untouchables” sits a little plastic dancing snowman. As a tear slides down my cheek, I recall the Christmas when I was 9 or 10 and my brother was in Viet Nam. I was so scared! My grandmother sent him a small artificial tree with ornaments to have where he was. This snowman was on that tree. Like my brother, he came back…a bit worn and dirty, but home nonetheless.
Midway down my Christmas tree, I’m reminded of the fun I had in my church youth group as my eyes rest on the elf and wreath I made then. We made these and sold them to parishioners to raise money for a needy cause we’d adopted. Oh, the fun we had!
Twinkling high above is my German Christmas ornament. Some of my best high school memories are of times spent in German Club! Staring at “Frohliche Weihnachten”, I hum a holiday tune as I remember our group caroling, in German, to a local nursing home.
Remember when Hallmark first came out with dated Christmas ornaments? I do. My mother bought both my sister and I a dated ornament that year and every year until we were grown and in our own homes. My favorite one has a cat on it, “Daughter” and a special verse. Now, on my own tree, with those high school years so far behind me, I treasure all of these dated memories.
In my growing up years, our town had a little shop downtown called, “The Gift Loft”. I used to love that store and spent many Saturdays there, wishing and dreaming. One year, I bought my mother a little gnome for our Christmas tree. I was so proud of this tiny fella with his lime green hood, wire glasses and pipe! I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face when I gave him to her. After all, he really is pretty ugly! Bless her, she put him on our tree and he hung on the tree, proudly, for many years after!
Once I had my own Christmas tree, in my own home, the first decoration I bought to place on it was a bird. Yes, a bird. My mother always had birds on our Christmas tree and having a bird on mine…it just felt right. When I look at that tiny bird, perched on it’s branch, I can see the Christmas trees of my youth and suddenly my mother’s not so old and my father’s still with us.
Now, as my son nears his second teenage year, not all of the ornaments on our Christmas tree remind me of my youth. Near the top, there’s his “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament which my in-laws bought and instructed me to write his name on it myself. They said, at the time, it was because my handwriting was prettier than the person’s who was personalizing the ornaments at the store.
Hanging throughout the tree are assorted Christmas ornaments that I made back when my hands could still do fine work. I see wreaths and dolls reflecting my handiwork at that time. There are other handmade treasures on my tree made by loved ones and friends who are no longer with us. While I mourn their passing I rejoice in the tiny glimpse of their life that dangles before me. Of course, my Christmas tree would not be complete without the proud display of ornaments that my son has made each year in school! I marvel at the ideas his teachers come up with!
Every year, it’s the same. Amid the flurry of holiday preparations and such, I find time to sit in my favorite chair, gaze at my tree, and listen to the stories my Christmas ornaments have to tell. I tell these stories to my son. Occasionally, an unsuspecting friend shows up and I tell them, too. Mostly though, I just sit…and listen.
May your Christmas Season be filled with peace and love and may your Christmas ornaments have wonderful stories to share.