Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

December 26, 2009

The first Christmas I was on my own was my sophomore year of college. I remember vividly how excited I was to have my very own Christmas tree in my apartment. It was little one, perhaps five feet tall. I was working at the mall at the time, and I remember taking my dinner break from Kinney's shoes and heading across the way to Woolworth's. There I took my meager paycheck and purchased a package of shiny glass ornaments, a silver garland, a strand of twinkling lights, and a star for the top of the tree. That night I decorated my simple little tree for the first time.

I always admired the beautiful and sophisticated Christmas trees, stately and color-coordinated and perfect, a la Martha Stewart. There's something incredibly elegant about those trees, and I love to look at them. I figured that one day, when I was older--out of college, married, with my own children and beautiful home--that I would have a tree like those.
As I grew up, got married, got my own home, had my own children, I realized that's just not me. I still love to look at those showcase Christmas trees, but in my own home I realized that I wanted something different. Once I got married, I started a tradition of buying a new and unique ornament each year, something that was much more personalized and relevant to me than shiny colored balls hanging on the tree.

When my children joined the family, one by one, I added to the tradition. I still bought an ornament each year, but in addition, I either made or purchased one for each of the kids to hang on the tree. (Once they got old enough, their own ornaments were the ones they made in school or at daycare, so lots of them are handmade.) The goal is that when each of them goes off to college, they can take with them their own ornaments to hang on their first trees in their own apartments--a little bit of home and memory and tradition to keep with them always. I loved it when I realized that we had enough ornaments to decorate the tree without adding in any ornaments that had no personal significance to us. This is the tree that suits me, and the one that we all love to decorate each year, with a little trip down memory lane as a bonus. Is it a showcase tree? To most, no. But to me, it's the most beautiful kind of tree.
A few years back, I read an article in a scrapbooking magazine about documenting Christmas traditions. Since we are only a couple of years away from Bree being old enough to begin the exodus out of the home, some of our ornaments will soon be walking out the door with them. While they are all still here under one roof (both children and ornaments), I thought I'd share some pictures of our favorite ornaments from over the years.

The ornament Danielle made me this year:Ornaments I made for Brianna and Nicholas several years back. (I painted one for everyone in the family that year):One Nicholas made for me in daycare before he started school:
For Nicholas, our resident Star Wars fan:For Doug, our resident pool expert:
From the kids' 1st Christmases:
A family of snow folk from the first Christmas we five celebrated together:
Ornaments we gave as gifts to Mom which came back to our tree after she passed away:
A gift from one of my students, Garrett, the first year I was a Buchanan Bear:
Another year we hand-made the ornaments for everyone:
Nicholas' favorite:
Danielle's favorite:
The gumball ornament Brianna made in kindergarten: (If you look closely, you might note that there are a couple of gumdrops missing from this ornament. When Nicholas was about two--and the ornament was about three--the draw of a tasty-looking candy hanging on the tree was too much for him to pass up. Believe it or not, the taste of the first three-year-old gumdrop did not deter him from trying a second. When I caught him, gumdrop drool running down his chin, the gumdrop ornament took up permanent residence near the top of the tree.)

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