Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Virtual Advent Tour - 2010

Welcome to Day 8 on the Virtual Advent Tour!

When I signed up to participate in this Daily Christmas blog event I had no idea what I would post.  I just knew I wanted to participate in something that focused on the genuineness of Christmas and not all the crazy ridiculous stuff that goes on in the mall over the holiday season.
During the few days of rest in between the calm peacefulness of Thanksgiving and the start of the panic attack of Christmas, I actually sometimes get a little down...will I be able to accomplish keeping the true meaning of Christmas in our family's heart this year or will we be engulfed and overwhelmed by the outside world?

During my down time this year, my youngest asked me every 5 minutes about when we would get the Christmas tree down?
"Are you going in the attic today, Mama?"
"Mama, please get the tree"
"The tree, Mama, you PROMISED!"

Finaly the Head of My Household took the extra card table and chairs up to the attic and came back down with the tree...I almost moaned.
Here we go again.
I watched my middle child put the pieces together as she always does.
Then, my firstborn and her boyfriend added the lights.
I began to feel a little bit of the Christmas spirit when they turned off the overhead lights and all that brightened the room was the soft twinkling glow of the tree lights.
Even so, I went to bed, promising my youngest that "Yes, yes, we'll get a box of ornaments down tomorrow...or maybe the next day."

Tomorrow came and so did the first box of ornaments...my youngest had been teased enough...she was NOT going to stand for anymore stalling.
I handed her the box and said,
"Have at it, Sistah"

As she chose certain ornaments from the box my youngest started asking me questions about the ornaments...she wanted to hear the stories...stories she'd heard before...but stories just the same.
Because you see, we don't have a fancy schmancy tree with shiny breakable non-touchable ornaments.
We have a tree that literally is made of little snippets of each of our lives.
Little snippets that are forgotten through most of the year...
and revisited each time we get the ornaments out of the box.

Here are a few examples of those stories told by our Christmas tree each year:

This little bear was one of the first ornaments that my mother-in-law collected for her firstborn, the Head of My Household. She was way ahead of Hallmark so she had to write the dates and each child's name on the ornament herself.

I hang this ornament that belonged to the Head of My Household right next to...

...this ornament that belonged to me

Did you notice that they were both dated 1977?  Our mothers were both collecting ornaments at the same time, never realizing the significance they might have many many years later.

In 1991 we moved to a new city, a new state, and a brand new house.  We were young newlyweds and we went through the process of buying our first home together...our entire lives of opportunity in front of us.  Both of our older daughters were born while we lived in this home.

This is one of the may handcrafted in a classroom little ornaments that we have on our tree...this is one from a teacher who liked to focus on photos...a captured moment in time with most of the work done by the teacher.

and this little bell oranament was actually worked on more by my daughter...I don't like either ornament better than the other but am very glad to have both.

We have quite a few Disney ornaments...but not because they are Disney, but because the character portrayed held some significance for one of our daughters.  Esmeralda here was a favorite of my firstborn.  My firstborn has olive skin like Esmeralda and black hair..in fact, my firstborn dressed up as Esmeralda one Halloween and carried her stuffed Djali the goat with her...my firstborn is a very convincing gypsy :)

We have quite a few Winnie the Pooh ornaments...my middle child was a stubby little chubby and stuffed with fluff baby with a soft heart so she quickly took on Pooh like qualities.  As you can see by Pooh's nose and Piglet's missing ear these are well loved ornaments.  I'm noticing now that Pooh's boots may even be a little scratched up.  That's because each of our three daughters has played with the ornaments on the tree.  They each remove their favorites and pretend with them as if they are dolls.  My youngest is the one still in this stage at the moment.

This is an ornament from my childhood tree that was not necessarily mine but was an ornament that I attach vivid Christmas memories to for some reason.  We had more than one of these Santas and each Santa had a Mrs. Clause to go with him.  I wanted them to stand next to each other on our tree.  Over the years we lost one or two of the Santas or Mrs. Santas and I would rather the remaining of the pair stay in the box rather than hang on the tree alone.

When the Head of My Household and I first began dating, his family still attended a large Christmas gathering on Christmas Day at his paternal grandparents' home.  This particular ornament hung on his Grandmother's tree and was given to us with a few other precious reminders of her after she passed away following a long scary battle with Alzheimers Disease.  Grandmother and Grandfather loved each other so much that when she was a danger to herself and had to be placed in a home, he sold everything they had and went with her.  When she didn't like it at the home, he bought it all back.  When she died, he lost all will to live and follwed her to heaven 6 months later.
How's that for true love??

My two older daughters were the only two for quite some time. They are very different and always have been.  I always tried to find Sister ornaments that showed two silly little characters, whether they look the same or different, actually enjoying each other's company.  I  buy one for each daughter, hang them both and hope that one day these ornaments might hang on their own trees.

Ahhhh, Starbucks.  As my girls grow older they join me in a some of my guilty pleasures....my middle child's favorite drink from Starbucks is the Double Chocolate Chip Frappacinno...my youngest also appreciates this chocolate chip, chocolate, whipped cream and cream delight while my firstborn enjoys the Pumpkin Spice coffee and I crave the Peppermint Mocha...but with only 1/2 pump of peppermint and mocha (not too sweet, please).

And finally the family ornaments...what's interesting in these ornaments is to watch the evolution of our family...from two, to three, then quickly to four, and finally 10 years later to five.  Our animals hold a special place in our memories as well so you'll  see them included in many of our family ornaments.

These stories are what Christmas means to me...the love passed down from generation to generation...that is there for the taking...unconditionally.
I cannot even imagine life without family and memories of times past...what could be better at Christmas than to remind ourselves of all the truly meaningful gifts we've received in the past?


  1. Thanks for sharing your photos. A nice idea for a post.I like those two little mice. (Slightly off topic but I haven't visited your blog before...I was so astonished by the photo of your cat. I have two black cats. Yours is very beautiful and has such a soulful expression)

  2. I love the memories the ornaments bring with them every year. It's like a little piece of Christmases past.

  3. I love your Christmas ornament memories. I'm so glad your youngest wanted to know the stories. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

  4. What lovely memories to go with each of your ornaments - I liked the two little mice too, very cute!

  5. What great memories you have for your ornaments. Mine, too, hold special memories for me of friends and family and events.

  6. I loved reading the stories of your ornaments. This is my husband and my first Christmas of marriage and we are already collecting ornaments that I'm sure will be very important to us through the years. :) Also, love your background - it's my background too!

  7. I think "story" ornaments make for a more beautiful tree than the designer coordinated ones. YOUR tree is absolutely gorgeous. ::)

  8. "Little snippets that are forgotten through most of the year...
    and revisited each time we get the ornaments out of the box." -love this. so true.

  9. That's what makes the family history trees so great, being able to revisit the stories of the ornaments each year.

  10. I love this post! I collect ornaments from my travels and it makes decorating the tree a mini world tour. I don't think I could ever warm up to a styled tree without any sentimental ornaments.