One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is enjoying the tree late at night, after everyone else has gone to bed. Sometimes I’ll play Christmas music, other times I’ll keep things quiet. Either way, it’s peaceful, just looking at the light cast on the walls. This is the only time I actually appreciate the halo effect that LASIK caused—it makes the tree even more glow-y and nice.
More than anything, though, it’s our ornaments that I like to look at. Each one of them has special meaning to our family. I made collages of just a few.
- A 50th anniversary Disneyland ornament from 2005 is a reminder of the year I went there three different times. Best. Year. Ever.
- A Queen’s Guard bear from Harrod’s, a memento from our trip to London in 2001, was bought so we would never forget the tasty-ish $50 sandwiches we ordered at the Harrod’s deli, as well as our incredibly poor currency conversion skills.
- Lucy! This was our first ornament honoring our giantest puppy ever.
- Jack’s first Christmas. There’s no picture because he was goofy-lookin’ at six weeks old. I’m on the hunt for one of our funniest pictures we took of him on Christmas Day 2001 because he looks like such a goblin in it. I’ll share if I find it, I promise.
- My oldest ornament is from 1976. We third graders painted them, and our teacher calligraphed our names and the year for us. Bethany Elementary, hollaaaaaa!
- Our musical Charlie Brown ornament was a gift to Victor because it’s his favorite Christmas special. Don’t most of us oldsters have happy memories of that special? I remember putting on a puppet show version of it in sixth grade. TVJA, hollaaaaaa!
- Victor and I visited the Cayman Islands in 2007 for our tenth anniversary Disney cruise. Another memento from that port is my anniversary ring. It’s slightly more valuable, so I wear the ring and hang the turtle on the tree instead.
- The most special of our ornaments is one we bought in honor of Scout in 1997. Hallmark’s puppy series just happened to be a beagle that year. When Katie was little, this was the hardest ornament for her to put away at the end of the Christmas season—she always asked to keep it in her room year-round. If we’d let her, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t still have it. (Have you seen the pig pen in which she lives???)
- The Yankee ornament is in honor of my dad, the biggest Yankee fan there ever was. It’s not dated, but I bought it in 2005, the year he died.
- We have lots of Mickey and Minnie ornaments; in fact, much of our tree consists of Disney ornaments of some type.
- We also have several Scout ornaments. She was a special girl.
- The “our new home” thing is a weird key and dated 1997, when we bought our house. That year was a big deal for us—we got married, adopted Scout, and built a house.
- Elvis Stitch is one of Victor’s favorite Disney characters. I love the sparkles on his jumpsuit.
- Katie’s first Christmas ornament has a picture because she was adorable at 11 months old. Yes, we know it makes us terrible parents to compare our kids this way. Oh well.
We’ve created a bit of a tradition for decorating the tree each year too. We put on Christmas music, and Vic and I start the decorating by wrangling the always tangled colorful garland (visible in some of the pics above) and lights. Then I sit and unwrap each ornament and hand them over to Katie, Jack, and Vic to hang them on the tree. It’s fun because we do the whole “I remember this one!” thing, or re-tell the stories about them, or ask ourselves why we keep some of them year after year. I occasionally pare down our collection, but more often we end up adding to it each year.
When we became a family in 1997, our tree had a few special ornaments but was mostly matchy-matchy with lights, garland, and bows. I love how it has evolved. Someday I’m sure we’ll go back to having a beautiful themed tree, but I’m going to enjoy our nostalgic trees for as many years as I can.