Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hanging the Years on the Tree

That is me on my very first Christmas. I was only 3 months old. My mom and dad, who talk vividly about that day when they sees this picture say that I was so bald that the little bow wouldn't stay in my hair so they had to tape it to my head. Apparently that was also the first dress I ever really owned, that little red, fluffy corduroy thing there. I don't remember that day at all, or even most of the Christmas' that followed it, but with that ornament and my parents stories of that day, I'll always know just how loved and cherished I was and that my family celebrated being together that holiday.

We don't really have any fancy traditions around my house for Christmas.

I bake cookies. Endless amounts of cookies, all for our family, my parents and my brothers, and Mikes work. This year it was a 4 day process and I was burnt out after day one. I consider a tradition to be something that you enjoy doing each and every year ... and on day 3 as I was picking the dried dough out from under my fingernails and was covered head to toe in flour I certainly wouldn't have said that I fully enjoyed doing all of that baking. My mom used to bake for a week, playing her Time Life Christmas Classics Treasury record in the background while I would lick the beaters and taste test all of the yummy cookies. Now I'm so sick of baking all of those cookies that I most definitely don't want to eat them ... heck, I don't even want to look at them.

We always put up our Christmas tree sometime during the weekend after Thanksgiving, something that my parents did also growing up and I've carried over to my family. But Mike is allergic to Pine. I'm talking, deathly, will break out in bright red itchy hives if hes anywhere near so much as a pine scented candle let alone real pine. So our plastic tree comes out of a box in an assortment of branches and pegs. Its not packing the family into the car and hiking out into the woods of a Christmas tree farm with a hacksaw that I recall.

Around this time of the year, after all of the too soon (thank you stores for putting out Christmas decor in October and ruining the anticipation of the actual season for me!) nostalgia wears off I always get into a sort of Christmas funk. Things have changed so much from the magical holidays that I remember having when I was a child and I'm scared that my boys will look back as adults and feel the same way.

Our only real tradition is that each and every year we get a family ornament, nothing fancy, just something to mark the year. It all began in 2001 with Mike and I's first Christmas together. It was the only new thing we had on our tree that year and it stuck out as plain in a sea of bright and shiny vintage treasures. We've kept this tradition and this tradition alone up every single year.

In 2007 I didn't get our family a Christmas ornament. I was stuck somewhere in between trying to make the season special for the children and wanting to tell the world to stick it up their holly jolly bums. That was the year that my mom gave me my Baby's First Christmas ornament, which now hangs on my tree instead of hers. I needed the reminder of what it was that my family was celebrating year after year. It wasn't some fat guy in a red suit, it wasn't presents or turkey dinners. It was being with the ones that your loved. And so our tradition has a whole new meaning.

They are not just ornaments on the tree to mark the years, but reminders of what we celebrated that year, who we were with, and the love and blessings that we shared.

And when my kids are grown and jaded by the season, I will pass on their ornaments to them as my mother did to me.

Originally posted at Oh Mandie

1 comment:

  1. This post resonates with me. My tree looks like yours. I don't have a "magazine-worthy" tree that's all coordinated with gold and white bows. I have a tree covered in beloved ornaments that I've bought for our family every year (as well as all the ornaments my mom bought for me every year of my life including my own Baby's First Christmas ornament circa 1979) and those that my daughter takes home from preschool.

    Every year when I decorate our tree I have a story for all of the ornaments to share with my daughters and that's such a special part of the holiday for me.

    I'm glad to know there are other mothers like me who love and appreciate that old ratty ornaments more than the new shiny ones.

    Thanks for this post!


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