Looking at the tree as a whole, I see that history and it makes me proud. I'm grateful for the stories and the memories that hang from each branch. It's as full and colorful as we are. Whether handmade or store-bought, each one has a story behind it. A story we can tell our kids and hopefully one day they'll tell their kids, too.
For example, there is this ornament. It was the very first one Justin & I bought together. It reminds me of that very first holiday in our ghetto apartment. Our tree took up one big corner of the room. We decorated it as a family, along with our friend/roommate Devon. We played a mixture of Christmas music and some 80's classics as we hung our ornaments and strung the lights. I still recall the 4 of us laughing as "Safety Dance" blared from the speakers. That was my first taste of the Sams holiday psychosis, which I appreciate now more than I can even put into words.
This ornament is another one that brings a smile to my face. Trinity made it in Kindergarten. I remember she came home crying because a boy on the bus broke one of the points off of it. We were able to use super glue to fix it and it has held together all these years. I found a little gift box in which this ornament fits perfectly for safe storage. Every year when I open it I get a whiff of cinnamon as if it were freshly baked. I know that I made a similar ornament when I was a kid, which is part of why this one is so precious to me. It's amazing to receive a handmade gift from my child, knowing how much work and time she put into making it and recalling that I did the very same thing as a little girl.
This ornament is the newest one we've bought. There is a kiosk in the mall that sets up around the holidays and personalizes ornaments. They're a bit on the pricey side, but they have an assortment of really cute ornaments. Being Presley's first Christmas and our first year as a quartet, Justin was adamant that we get a special ornament to mark the occasion. Our first choice was a set of black bears with santa hats, but they were sold out. There was another one that was peas in a pod, which I really liked, but after a family discussion, we all decided we liked the snowmen best. Typically Justin and I like to get a bulb style ornament w/ the year on it, but this year is a milestone for our family, so we had to change things up a little.
We also have 2 ornaments from the year Justin was born. I love the Snoopy one b/c well, it's Snoopy! The other bulb is a baby's first Christmas ornament. The sad thing about this is that it's not actually the original bulb. Justin's Mom gave us the original bulb a few years ago so that we could hang it on our tree at home. Justin was so proud to have it. But Christmas 2008 we took in my cousin's son as a foster child for awhile and we have never seen the bulb since. He was a mixed up teenager with a lot of emotional issues, so we're both pretty sure he threw it away or broke it before he ran away. We don't know that for sure, but it's a pretty big coincidence that we made a big deal about getting that ornament from Judy and it just happened to go missing around the time Ryan was hitting the skids. Justin couldn't bear the thought of telling his Mom that it was gone, so he went online and found one on ebay. We've never told his parents that it's not the exact same bulb, and even though it's not, we still treasure it as if it were.
There are so many other ornaments on our tree that have stories behind them. I'm excited to share them with my girls as they grow up. Trinity has heard it all before, but she's gracious enough to endure us re-telling our tales every year when we decorate our tree. We have several Elvis ornaments that we hang both as a tribute to Judy and also because we named Presley after Elvis. There are the homemade foam ornaments Trinity made in daycare when she was just 2 years old. There are bulbs we made with Trinity that have a reindeer family made from her fingerprints and snowmen made with fingerpaint. This year we decided to buy 1 special ornament each year in honor of Judy b/c Christmas was her favorite holiday and one she always made as special as possible for her family. For 2013, the year she passed, we have an ornament that is a small picture frame with angel wings. For 2014 we got one that is a sea shell and says "Every life leaves something beautiful behind". We have an ornament of a teddy bear sitting on a swing made out of a key that commemorates our first Christmas in the first house we bought. We were gifted a pretty hallmark ornament from Justin's boss for Presley's first Christmas, but we also bought one ourselves that is a baby Minnie Mouse. We have 2 bulbs that we bought on each of our trips to Disneyland.
There is so much to love about the holidays: the way your kids' faces light up when they see presents under the tree or the family tradition of driving around town to look at Christmas lights. I even cherish the simple act of sitting at the table and enjoying a traditional meal with the people I love most. But I'd have to say that my favorite part is setting up the Christmas tree, pulling each little memory from its box and putting it on display.