One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is the traditions.
Growing up, my family marked this season with a handful of specific and meaningful activities. For example; we celebrated each morning leading up to the holiday with an advent calendar, we drove around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights, my sister and I would snuggle up and watch White Christmas and many years, we cut down our own Christmas tree. A personal favorite for me was the night we'd dedicate to decorating the new green addition to our living room.
My Dad would get the tree all set up in it's stand. Then, my Mom would hang the lights, which were sometimes multicolored, other times white, but always twinkly. She would carefully unpack the plastic tubs filled with ornaments. With every lift of tissue paper, she revealed another relic from years past. There were ornaments commemorating each kid's first Christmas, ornaments we made at school, typically involving a lot of glitter, and sometimes a school photo, and ornaments that had to be hung up high because they were breakable. Because of their placement and my small stature I couldn't study their features like I did with the others. Those were my favorite ornaments, because of their mystery.
We spent time carefully unwrapping each piece, discussing where it came from and what memory it represented. Each ornament was like a time capsule. What the ornament looked like was beside the point, what made it truly special was the story it told. While my Mom narrated, I listened. I memorized every detail, hoping to be able to recite their history the next time we unpacked them, 365 days in the future. Our Christmas trees were a live photo album, a literal family tree.
Of course now, my Mom still decorates a tree, but I have a tree of my own. Plus, she has gifted me many of the ornaments I made when I was little. There are collections for each of us, carefully organized by our initials- like an artist's greatest hits. I've begun the process of starting to collect a new set, too. Just like I did as a child, I relish in the opportunity to unbox these items, and reminisce as I place them on a tree that I share with Jason, in our home. Many of these ornaments have meaning for both of us, and represent an event in our life as a couple.
Slowly, and half by accident, our ornament collection has multiplied because of our trips and vacations. For instance, a couple summers ago we went to Europe.
Because of my innate need to craft, many of the ornaments are DIY'd. While in Europe, we visited Athens and Santorini, Greece. I punched circles out of maps and tickets from our days in there, ran them through the sewing machine, and attached a ribbon from the wedding we attended while there. In Santorini, I found the perfect white and blue church, complete with flowers painted on either side (one of my all time favorites) in a little shop on the main street.
We also went to Paris and London. I added a glittery silver ornament to the mini telephone booth that I detached from a key chain. It was cheap, but I love how it instantly reminds us of London. I punched a hole in one of our Oyster cards - I like how it adds color to the tree, especially in the light of day.
When we went to New York in 2013, I couldn't find an ornament that didn't feel overly cheesy, so instead, I used a key chain with a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and attached a star. Not only does it better represent our time in the city, it reminds me of the afternoon we walked across the bridge, taking in the views side by side.
We got this sweet wooden cutout of the state of Texas - complete with an armadillo - while we were there visiting Jason's mom a few summers ago. It's this ornament that started the travel theme for us!
This year included the addition of a bunch of new ornaments that I know will be favorites for years to come. That Las Vegas poker chip was a key chain that I detached, and added a hook to. I simply wrote notes about the trip on the back, and called it good. The Chicago ornament was made the same way - with a key chain that I attached a painted wooden chip to. I wrote notes about our trip to visit our BFFs and strung the two pieces together. I did the same for the Hawaii one, but combined two different key chains and added a piece of a shell necklace we were given when we checked into our hotel. <3
Lastly, some of my personal favorites: that pink and orange felt ornament I made recently, and I love how it represents our home. Because, after all those travels, Sacramento is where we live our day-to-day life and where we met over 7 years ago (holy moly!). That watermelon ornament is vintage (can I get an entire vintage fruit set?!) as well as that rainbow colored one. Next to travel themed ornaments, vintage pieces are my other favorite way to decorate the tree.
High five if you made it to the end of this post! Whew!
This year, our tree is the most Christmas-y thing in the house so far, and it's a beauty. It makes the space feel warm and bright, with just the right amount of sparkle. Shout out to my sister who helped us pick it out last weekend! You the real MVP. :)