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Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Memories Behind The Ornaments

What others see when they look at our Christmas tree is not the same as what we see. To them, it is a tall, brightly lit tree full of ornaments of every size and shape. There are so many ornaments that they all run together, each of them hiding its own meaning for the single purpose of decorating the tree. They are beautiful all together, as they are meant to be, but together is not how I see them at all. Each ornament hanging on our tree holds a story for me.....represents a small part of the life that I have shared with Jeff and with my children.

Jeff and I became engaged when we were both seniors in college. We were in the same class majoring in Occupational Therapy. Not long before our December wedding, right before starting our internships, we walked into class one day to find that our classmates had prepared a Christmas ornament shower for us. We were also given a small tree that was barely big enough to hold all of the ornaments. One week after getting married, we spent our first Christmas at Jeff's parents' home. We set the tiny tree up on the beside table and filled it with our ornaments. I woke up to the first Christmas morning away from my Dad and childhood home, but the first Christmas morning with my new family...Jeff. There have been many ornaments added since that Christmas, but these represent the beginning.

All of our babies were born shortly before or shortly after Christmas, but Carter was the only one that was brought home to a house decorated for Christmas. I knew I would be too busy and preoccupied to do it after he was born, so I focused on having everything ready before he came. The night before I had Carter, we bought these ornaments to hang on our tree.
I remember sitting on the floor in front of the tree, obviously in labor, trying to get all of the strings tied and the new ornaments on the tree before heading to the hospital. I did manage to have everything ready for Carter and will never forget how much he loved looking at the lights on our tree as I rocked him in the chair beside it.

Patrick has always loved "little things". I don't remember exactly when or where I bought these ornaments, only that every year, when we bring the boxes of ornaments from the attic, that Patrick rummages through them until he finds this set.

He has always loved them because they are little. There are a couple of Curious George figures and a chipmunk missing because he begged for them to be left out when the others were put back into the attic. They are still here somewhere...I'll find them one day and put them back in the box with the others. I can't look at this little pile of ornaments without thinking of Patrick..who is he and what he likes. They are so much a part of Christmas for me.

We love traditions. I didn't set out to start all sorts of Christmas traditions for us to keep, but it just happened as we repeated the things that we enjoyed the most each year. One of them is making new homemade ornaments every year. We all enjoy doing it, but Madison loves it. The first ones that we ever made are the little white paper snowflakes. I remember making them with Madison one day out of coffee filters. I didn't make them with the intention of hanging them on the tree, but Madison asked if we could. I didn't think they would last long, but here we are years later and they are still hanging on our tree. I look at the blue trains that Carter painted and remember how much he loved Thomas the Train. I remember spreading everything out and practically putting my hands over my children's hands because they needed so much help. These are the ornaments that will one day hang on their Christmas trees...the bridge to their childhood, just as this ornament is a bridge to mine.I don't remember where I got it or who gave it to me, only that it hung on my childhood Christmas tree. In it holds all of the memories of Christmas with my sisters...with my Mother and Daddy.

Each year when we decorate the tree, I feel we will never finish putting the ornaments on. Each year, it will take us longer because we'll continue to add to them. They will fill every inch of our tree as our memories fill our lives.


Blogger Rick said...

I heard that one of the things that people fight each other about the most after their parents die are the Christmas ornaments. I can see that this could be true because there is often a lot of significance attached to each one.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Rhonda said...

Such a beautiful blog. It was so heartfelt. I remember one year at Christmas time, we were doing shome shopping and in the department store was one of those toy crane machines. My girls insisted on playing it because there was a little golden angel ornament inside of it that I fell in love with. They tried and tried until they finally pulled it up and it dropped into the slot! Screaming with joy they pulled it from the machine, only to see tears in my eyes. Yes, ornaments do have stories behind them. Stories that will last a lifetime.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sista,
The ornament you can't remember where you got, well your big sister does....It came from Mrs. Mary Pat, our bus driver. She loved all her kids on that bus, she gave us all one, I still have mine too. Mine is the "little drummer boy". Just thought I'd let you know that, I know I just talked to you a minute ago, but I didn't see this till after. Talk to you later. Love Ya...Lori

8:37 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Isn't it funny how attached we become to ornaments. It's so true that they hold memories for us. I know when we put up our tree each one that was special had it's own memory. I would look at each ornament and remember when we got go back and try to remember that time. Or who gave it to us and I would think about them. Christmas trees are like time capsules for sure.


PS I LOVE Alvin and the Chipmunks!

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this! It was fun to read the special stories behind your ornaments. I may do an ornament post soon too!

1:33 PM  
Blogger carrie & troy keiser said...

What a great Remembering post! Thanks for sharing a part of your Christmases with all of us.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick's favorites? They'd be mine, too :)

The majority of the ornaments on my tree mean something to me. Whether it's the shoe tree ornament with its silly meaning or the ornament from Morgan's first Christmas.

Thanks for sharing this with us :)

8:52 PM  
Blogger School for Us said...

Thanks for sharing your ornament memories! It brought tears to my eyes. I need to take photos of some of our ornaments and tell their stories, too. They are special, aren't they?

6:41 PM  
Blogger TheMFamily said...

This is a beautiful post about Christmas. I love it when so many things about the season and the decorations bring back memories. It is the reason why we celebrate.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Mama Teaching 2 said...

Perfect always...your heart is so lovable. :) But I have to ask...did he freeze the little ornaments that are lost? HA HA! I know you will know what I mean. Look at that! We now have an inside joke! YES!

11:42 PM  

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