Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who Needs A Trendy Tree?

Our Homey Hodge-Podge of Old & New Memories Can't Be Beat

My daughter and I made wooden ornaments like this one,
using markers and glue pens.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I had a carefully balanced mix of silver and blue ornaments, silver garland, and twinkly white lights adorning a lovely white Christmas tree. It was such a perfect work of art. Or so I thought.

Now, whether visiting the dentist or the mall, I see trees adorned in far more stylish themes -- from all-out Disney to fairies, to glittery fish.  Yes, I said fish. There are sports themes, based on your favorite team's colors, logos and mascot. There are designer themes, so carefully crafted and sparkly that one would be afraid to touch them. When it comes right down to it, there are so many design options out there that just about anyone can find something that will  have folks buzzing over his or her creativity and unique holiday touch over the cookies and egg nog.

One of my faorites -- a photo of my husband as a boy, with
his parents and little sister. Both his Dad and Sister have
passed away, so this photo gives us a way to  keep
them with us at Christmas time.
 And if you'd asked me a dozen or so years ago what I thought about this plethora of yuletide personality, I would have filled a cart with such goodies and dashed for the checkout counter.  Not so, today.

Today, I have a family. Not just a "Mommy-Daddy-Kids" kind of family, mind you. I have a full-on, Waltons' style, multi-generational home with Grandma and Cousin Cathy, too. It's the equivalent of a four-generation household, with decades of memories and a basement obstacle course of over a dozen plastic tubs full of Christmas ornaments, lights, decorations, stockings and other odds and ends.

A tin treasure from my
husband's "bachelor" days

This can lead to a pretty baroque sort of tree, mind you. Especially when you add up all the ornaments of each individual family member. We have some "back when we were dating" souvenir ornaments, special wedding keepsake ornaments, old and new  "baby's first Christmas" treasures, new home ornaments, favorite pet ornaments, photo ornaments, cloth ornaments, vacation keepsakes, lace ornaments, candy cane ornaments, inspirational ornaments, and some very special ornaments from family members who are  no longer with us. There are those handmade treasures my niece brought home from school as a girl. And those she and my daughter create today.  Some are nearly falling apart. Others have barely had time for the glitter glue to dry.
Certainly, those specialty ornaments so prevalent today have their place, and I suspect it is among the young, those with a lifetime of memories yet to be made, companies needing to promote their "brand," doctors' and dentists' offices, and those folks whose hobbies are so much a part of their lives that their trees are a fitting extension of their personalities.
A reminder of  our basset hound, Jackie,
 beside a handmade cloth and cotton
Santa my Mother-In-Law received
from a friend decades ago.

But after so many Christmasses as I have enjoyed, nothing takes the place of a sitting on the living room floor amid giant plastic tubs of memories next to a real, live evergreen tree that fills the whole house with the smell of joyful anticipation. It's a ritual to be treasured. Perhaps it takes our family so long to decorate the tree because we pause and tell the stories behind each ornament, so our daughter and niece can appreciate them as well.    
When I look at them all together, I see something so truly unique that my heart swells with happiness. These are the memories of our childhood, of "romance," of commitment, challenges, loss,  blessings, and just plain fun. It's a theme so unique no store can replicate it, and so common every family has one. 

May God bless you and yours this Christmas season -- whether you're decking the halls with the latest trend or a mountain of fine memories! 

Merry Christmas!