Saturday, December 3, 2011

O Christmas Tree!

     Putting up our Christmas tree each year brings back so many wonderful memories.  In my family, the tradition has always been to put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  My Dad would set up and shape the tree and then wrap the lights.  Afterwards, we would all take part in decorating the tree together as a family.  Each ornament held a special memory and we enjoyed talking and laughing and singing Christmas carols together.
     Jim and I have continued this tradition and we cherish the togetherness we share as we decorate our tree each year.  We usually put our tree up right after Thanksgiving and leave it up until the end of January  (One year it was actually still up on Valentine's Day so I replaced the ornaments with hearts and ribbons).  Jim sets up the tree and wraps the lights while I put on some Christmas music and make hot chocolate.  Then we decorate together. 
     Our tree would never win a fashion contest!  There is no set color scheme.  The ornaments do not match.  And in recent years, our tree has started to lean a little to the side (probably from the weight of too many ornaments!)  But we LOVE it!  Each ornament holds a special memory.  We talk, laugh, cry, and remember as we hang each ornament in it's place.  When we finish, we always see not only a beautiful tree, but also a beautiful picture of our life together. 
     So for this blog, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite ornaments and the memories behind them with you!
       Some of our ornaments pre-date our time together such as this santa ball and gingebread man that I made in elementary school.  When I was in school, we made ornaments almost every year.  Many of them have been lost, but these have remained and continue to grace our tree each year.  They remind me of simpler times and the pure joy of being a kid.

     Of course we have an ornament to celebrate our First Christmas together as husband and wife!  We had a December wedding.  The church was all decked out in pine boughs, white lights and candles.  It was a beautiful and magical night.  This year we will celebrate 17 years of marriage...and I can honestly say that Jim is still my very best friend!

     I received many special ornaments during my time as a teacher.  Pictured below are two of my favorites.  The first is a simple gingerbread tree given to me by one of my special education students during my first year of teaching.  He had cerebral palsy and could only communicate through a special sound board,  but his smile never failed to light up the room.  The second ornament (the green one) was created by one of my 7th Grade Pre-Algebra students near the end of my time teaching.  It has a fan inside that spins as the heat of the Christmas lights rises up into the cylinder.  Both ornaments make me smile and bring back so many memories.

     Ornaments from former students are not the only kid crafted ornaments to grace our tree.  Our nieces and nephews have kept us well supplied with their creations over the years.  Many of these now adorn the bookshelf in our bedroom.  Since we live away from family right now, it makes me happy to wake up in the morning and have their smiling faces greet me.  The ornaments hold love, laughter and an infinite number of hugs to make my day a little brighter!

     Several years ago, Jim and I started a tradition of buying a Christmas ornament whenever we traveled to a new place.  We have a ball with a toucan from St. Thomas, a cable car from San Fransisco, Mickey Mouse ears from Orlando and so many more!  They are all unique and hold special memories of our travels.

     Some of our ornaments bring us tears and hope.  We have a baby carriage ornament that represents our desire for a baby, noah's ark ornaments that represent the theme of our nursery, and a hope ornament that reminds us to keep believing for our miracle.  There is also a special angel ornament given to us after I found out I was pregnant.  Now it reminds us of our baby in heaven who we look forward to meeting some day. 

     Other ornaments are just there because we liked them for one reason or another.  There are snowmen to represent the snow that we love, nativity sets to remind us of the reason for the season and some santas just for fun. 

     Looking at our tree makes me happy and reminds me of just how rich we in memories, rich in friendship, rich in family, rich in love!  I joyfully remember the past seasons; I am thankful for all God has blessed us with this year; and I am filled with hope for the future.  Soon we will need a new, bigger tree to hold all of our ornaments and memories.  We look forward to adding more special ornaments along the's first Christmas, our own little toddler creations and reminders of special times spent with friends and family. 

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