Our Christmas tree has been up for over a week, but we only just put the ornaments on it yesterday. It’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit when we’re walking around in shorts and flip-flops (to be clear, we are also wearing shirts).
This was the first time we decorated with only three of us, since the oldest moved off to college this fall.
That’s such a lie.
It’s just been the three of us (me, Mark, and our youngest) for the last few years because our oldest couldn’t be bothered to come out of his room to help. I’d have to force him to come out and hang one ornament, just so I could get a family-tree-decorating picture to post on Facebook so that people would think we’re the Perfect Family.
Our tree isn’t one of those fancy magazine-looking trees with all its ornaments being in the same color family, or anything like that.
Our ornaments are the most random, eclectic collection - some dating back to when Mark and I got married 22 years ago. Individually, a lot of the ornaments are just hideous. Some are falling apart, with paint chipping off and edges crumbling away.
But when they’re all tucked into our tree and we light it for the first time of the season, I get a little misty-eyed at their beauty.
I stare at it for a while and I see how my sons’ handprints grew bigger and bigger on ornaments they made at preschool and their early elementary school years, and notice how their handwriting changed and improved* over the years.
There are ornaments decorated with the names of pets we adopted as kittens and puppies, who grew to be old and arthritic, and are no longer with us (technically they are still with us, since we have their ashes in individual boxes, packed into a bigger box labeled, “Dead Pets” from when we moved this summer).
We have ornaments that our niece made for us - paper snowflakes - when she wasn’t even old enough to write, so she had her mom write a special message in each one. Our favorite: “From your secret reminder.”
Each ornament sparks a memory for us, making us sentimental** as we decorate the tree each year.
Some of our most prized ornaments:
A ceramic dog bone-shaped one with “Britney” written in Sharpy across the front that makes us argue over whose “best girl” this dog really was.***
The paper snowflakes from our niece.
And this one - a new addition to our collection, and a gift from Mark’s sister - our family portrait on a piece of wood.
This little tree isn’t going to win any design awards, but it’s the most beautiful Christmas tree I’ve ever seen, because every trinket hanging from its branches unlocks a sweet memory.
And that's what gets me in the Christmas spirit.
How about you? What’s your most favorite Christmas ornament, and why is it so special? Tell me in the comments!
*We’re still waiting on our youngest’s to improve. Each kid is different, y’all.
**When I say “us” here, I mean “me.” Mark wasn’t born with the sentimental gene, and he’s certainly not sentimental about something like a Christmas ornament. He just wants to get the ornaments on the freakin tree.
***I’ll admit that I argued with Mark about this, but the truth is, she was his best girl. Britney was a yellow lab that was our baby before we had human children, and was 15 when she died. I can’t tell you how many times I’d catch Mark talking to her like she was a human, not to mention how he’d spoon her while lying on the couch watching football.