Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Traditions: The Ornaments

Yesterday I shared how I'm vacillating over whether to have a tree next year or not. If I do decide to to have one, it will be the ornaments that tip the scale.

Unpacking the ornaments one-by-one gives me warm fuzzies, for each and every one is special because of who gave it, or where we bought it. No theme or color-coordinated trees for us; we like our mix of homemade and store-bought ornaments that in no way relate to one another; not in design, color, or size. And that suits us just fine. Because, just like the tree, it's not about the ornaments. It's about the people we remember as we hang each ornament on the tree.

Back in the mid-to-late 80s we lived in Florida and the church we attended hosted a homemade ornament exchange every year. By the time we moved to Michigan I must have had 75 or more ornaments from those exchanges alone. Sadly many of those have broken or fallen apart, or just flat out disintegrated. But a few dozen remain, including these pieces that were to be part of a full nativity set (but since I moved away I wasn't around to finish out the set):
One shepherd and two of the wise men. Made by Betty Tappan, a dear friend and fellow quilter who passed away earlier this year.

Back in the mid 90s my SIL Sharon and I shared a craft booth at a holiday sale, and she gave me the most adorable salt dough ornament of a reindeer all tangled up in Christmas lights. That did not survive being in a damp storage unit, which makes me really sad. But she has since given me this darling little hand-painted bell:
(Don't look too close or you'll see where I dropped and broke it this year. Ivan was able to glue most of it back together but we couldn't find a few of the slivers.)

This isn't exactly homemade, but it's not store bought either:
It was part of a set of portraits we bought the year after Jon was born. I'm hoping that next year maybe Tina can get something similar of Simon for us? [hint, hint ;) ]

We like to pick up special ornaments when we travel, as well, and this year two of those ornaments made it on the tree: a ceramic cross we picked up in Ireland and this little cactus we bought in Arizona two years ago:

We started a tradition when the kids were little, of buying them each an ornament every year for their own collection. We tried to find ones that represented something important in their life that year. Like the patriotic Santa that Tina received the year she turned 18 and could finally vote, or the puppy that we gave Jon after he and Nat got Leo. And sometimes I'd find one I just had to get for Ivan, too, that reflect his interests:
His handyman status is undisputed, so of course we have a couple that represent that skill set. It was his passion for missions that prompted me to pick up the little world globe. It was a little (cough, cough) more colorful than something I'd normally pick out, but he likes it anyway.

I could keep going (but don't worry, I won't) because we have dozens of ornaments and each one tells a story.

What about your ornaments? Do they tell a story? Have you inherited any? (I'd love to have some from my mom!) Do you make ornaments yourself?


rita said...

Love the memories that accompany each ornament!

The Bug said...

We definitely have memories associated with our ornaments. It's been a few years since we had a tree large enough to drag them all out, but when we do it makes me smile.

Lhoyt said...

We used to have a white, two-story house which, I believe, was made by Dad, and decorated by Mother. The roof was hinged, and the gifts that would fit were put inside the house, which was set under the tree. That is one of the few memories I have of Christmas decorations. By the time I could remember anything, most of the decorations had been destroyed and replaced with regular store bought balls, which were so thin they seldom lasted beyond one season. I also remember that Dad would his put out his Knight speakers on the roof of the house, and would play Christmas music (no reindeer running over Grandma in those days) and since there were no noise ordinances in our town, he would play them from the rooftop. Many people mentioned to me years later that they missed that.
BTW does anyone remember what became of the house I mentioned?