Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas traditions: Ornaments

Decorating the Christmas tree is always one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I like pulling out all the different ornaments, remembering where they came from, and finding the perfect place for them on the tree. This year Adriana helped decorate, and it was fun to give her unbreakable ornaments to hang down at her level.

In fact, we had so much fun decorating with her that the week after we did our tree, we went up to my dad's house to help him with his. There, Adriana was less interested in hanging the ornaments than she was in going through the ornament box and telling other people where to hang the ones she picked out.

While we were at my dad's, my sister and I sorted through ornaments, selecting the ones that we wanted for our own trees, since even with an eight foot tree that we decorated on all sides my dad had more than enough.

I came home and hung the "new" ornaments on the tree and thought of how much these things all mean to me. I realize they are all just things, but I love the way pulling them out of the box every year brings back so many memories.

I bought this glass ball at Appalachian Spring in Georgetown the year that I was pregnant with Adriana. I love beautiful glass ornaments and this one reminded me of one that my mom had when we were growing up.

When we were sorting out ornaments at my dad's, I found the one I had been thinking of. I hung them near one another on our tree.

That same year I also bought a lot of cheap ornaments at the Crate & Barrel outlet in Old Town Alexandria. I like these ones because they're sparkly.

Last fall, I was eager to find the perfect "Baby's First Christmas" ornament to personalize for Adriana. In my head it was silver and engraved. Then I found this china giraffe that was absolutely perfect.

At one point when I was in elementary school, my mom let each of us pick out an ornament at Macy's one year. I chose a wooden rocking horse. Every day as Adriana studies the tree and points out ornaments, she smiles at this one and exclaims, "Neigh! Neigh!"

The first year that Brian and I were living together, I insisted on picking out a seven-foot tree for our little house, even though we weren't even going to be there on Christmas day--and even though we didn't have any ornaments to put on it. Remembering ornament projects from preschool, I began saving yogurt lids, and with those, a stack of photographs, some construction paper, and some glitter glue pens, I made a bunch of ornaments. I'm not a very crafty person, and the ornaments do have a bit of the preschool project feel to them, but we still have a lot of them around, and I love them because of the pictures of our friends and family, and also because it's nice to remember that first Christmas together. I meant to make more this year, but it will have to wait until next year, I think.

When we first visited the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, I noticed in the gift shop a pretty little ornament that outlined the shape of the Cathedral's rose window. I didn't buy it and later wondered why. So when I saw a similar one at National Cathedral I of course purchased it. And then at St. Paul's I found one that outlined some of the iron work in the Cathedral. I try not to buy too many little trinkets when we travel, because I don't like to have a lot of clutter (not that you could tell that from looking at our house), but ornaments make perfect souvenirs: we get them out once a year, pretty little things that remind us of the fun we had on different trips.

I love hummingbirds, so I was pleased to pull out this pretty little one that Brian's mom gave me last year.

For the first week that we had our tree up, Adriana would point to it and sign "bird," and she was talking about that hummingbird. But after we brought home ornaments from my dad's house, she is much more interested in my favorite ornament from childhood, Big Bird.

I loved Paddington Bear when I was little, so my sister handed me this ornament to take home. But the real reason I was pleased to take it is that some friends in Washington really adore Paddington, and seeing this little guy on my tree reminds me of them.

That first year that we were living together, Brian perched a sock monkey that my friend John had made for my 21st birthday on top of the tree. It started as a joke, but that we left him there. When I was pregnant with Adriana and we were finally getting our own tree again, we bought a pretty star to put at the top of the tree but ended up returning it. We just liked the sock monkey better.

The tree skirt wasn't anything I ever really thought of when I was growing up, and it wasn't a decoration that was important to me. But when Brian and I got married, his aunt embroidered a tree skirt for us, and every year I take it out of the closet and marvel at it. The little details are so perfect, and it's so special to me because I know that Aunt Janet made it just for us. It reminds me of her, although she lives in Florida and I've only met her a few times, and it reminds me of when we were just married, right after Christmas, and what a special time that was in our lives.

1 comment:

lynnerd said...

I love decorating the tree for the same sentimental reasons. I had that Big Bird ornament as a kid, too! (I wonder if my mom still has it...)