Thursday, December 18, 2014

Traditions, Treasures, and a Tree

I love traditions.  There is something about them that brings such joy to my heart.  The Christmas season is filled with them.  Making sugar cookies in an assortment of shapes and sizes, and then decorating them with the most candy possible, driving around and looking at the lights while drinking hot chocolate, and the Elf on the shelf that loves to get into mischief are just a few of the many traditions we have grown to love as our family as grown.   One tradition in particular I have grown to love more and more every year, is putting up our Christmas tree.  Sure lugging it out of the attic takes some work, and putting it together inspires sounds that are less than cheery coming from my mouth.  But once it is down and put together, and the branches are fluffed, then the magic begins to happen.  I open the first box full of treasures that we have collected throughout the years, and the emotions and events that are tied to each ornament come flooding back.  My children magically stop whatever activity they are doing, and join me at the bare tree.  I start with the first ornament, and begin to tell the memory of the delicately made glass or plastic object.  Lots of first are on our tree.  My son and daughter’s first Christmas bears.  And an elegant bride dances gracefully on one of the top branches with her tulle veil.  My children have heard these stories over and over again, but every December it’s as if they are hearing it for the first time.
            The tradition of collecting these life events through ornaments began when my aunt gave me and my then fiancée a Precious Moment ornament of a couple under the mistletoe.  Ever since then I have realized how powerful an object can be at triggering a memory and the feelings that are tied to it.  Good, bad, painful, or happy.  It doesn’t matter.  It is all a part of life.  All of those peaks and valleys hung on little branches. 

Every year, I would pick out a new ornament that reminded me of some special event that happened in the past year.  Now that my children are older, they each pick out their own ornament and add it to the tree.  We have some repeats.  My daughter can’t have enough ballet shoes on the tree, and the colorful spheres we used to place on the tree have transformed into soccer balls.  But it’s our tree.   It is not a tree that would be chosen to star in a catalog for nothing about it matches.  Handmade ornaments share the stage with more expensive ones.  The lights are mismatched, and the branches are needing a little more oomph.  But what it holds is so beautiful.  Years and years of blessings and memories gently and strategically placed.  I love to sit and reminisce on the beautiful life I had and I get excited about the treasures that are yet to be added to our tree.