Ornaments That Tell a Story


Decorating the Christmas tree I realized that it tells the story of my adult life. The ornaments hanging from the branches each bring back a memory of the 34 years John and I have been married.

The only ornament from my childhood is an angel purchased during our family’s first trip to Disney World in 1973. This angel started the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments inspired by memories of the year.

IMG_1729In 1979, the first Christmas as a newly married couple, we decorated our tree with homemade ornaments on a tree we cut down in the Ocala National Forest because we couldn’t afford expensive decorations. (We were probably just too cheap to spend money on a tree, lights, and dozens of ornaments, but in any case we strung popcorn and made ornaments creating a special memory.)

Handmade macrame' owl ornament - 1979
Handmade macrame’ owl ornament – 1979

The Jackson County Courthouse reminds us of our years in Cullowhee at Western Carolina University where John and I met as well as the summers spent in North Carolina camping, hiking, and tubing.

IMG_1742
Jackson County Courthouse – Sylva, NC

Of course there are shells, beach chairs, and a sea turtle on the tree. It’s hard to think of a year without at least a few days at the beach.

A shell from Sanibel
A shell from Sanibel

Not only turtles, but whales, alligators, moose and bats adorn the tree since so many summers seem to revolve around animal adventures.

2012- the summer of bats in Carlsbad and Austin
2012- the summer of bats in Carlsbad and Austin
Whale watching in Washington
Whale watching in Washington

The sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church brings back wonderful memories of over twenty years of Christmas eve services as well as Easter services, LOGOS, confirmation, Wednesday night dinners, and Camp Montgomery.

1st Presbyterian Church Ocala
1st Presbyterian Church Ocala

I’d venture to say we’re the only family with a key chain, a rock, and an alien on their Christmas tree; but what better way to remember Las Vegas than the famous Vegas sign or a trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion than a rock (purchased, not pilfered from the park) and what’s New Mexico without an alien?

My favorites: bear bells from a trip to Yellowstone.

Bells meant to be worn by hikers to scare bears away
Bells meant to be worn by hikers to scare bears away

And from Muir Woods National Monument, an ornament that represents the Redwoods we traveled across a continent to see and the final trip we took as a family of five. Funny, this one ornament cost more than we spent on the tree and all the decorations that first Christmas!

Christmas trip in California
Christmas trip in California

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Ornaments That Tell a Story

  1. My favorite ornament on my tree is the Muir Woods leaf. I almost lost it one year because it was hidden among the needles on the tree. Now it’s in a much more conspicuous place. I took my bear bells off this year and attached them to my hiking stick. So when we went to Yellowstone this year I bought a new ornament. By getting an ornament from each different place (or for a memorable event during the year such as buying our house or getting married) it probably takes me twice as long to decorate the tree as it normally would. I can’t do it without asking do you remember when we did this?

    Our tree is missing Larry Bird this year. But I held true to my promise to Sarah that she could have Larry when she got her own Christmas tree. Have a very Larry Christmas!

  2. LOVE THIS….i have so enjoyed seeing all the ornaments grow on my tree over the past 17 years I have been married….i love getting ornaments from trips we go on….i love trees that have ornaments that have meaning…

  3. Each year I buy or collect an ornament for each of the boys and us. So decorating the tree is also a trip down memory lane for each of us, too..in different ways. Each ornament bought symbolizes something special in their life that year…a lost tooth, a play, a drivers license, etc. Like you , Dee, our first tree had no ornaments. So when the boys got / get married , I give them their box of childhood ornaments to start their own collection with…still having enough for me since Lynn and I got one each year too! Hopefully they will enjoy explaining the meaning of their ornaments to their kids!

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