Thinking about what makes a perfect Christmas and what puts Christmas in our hearts, I realize, today, I already have the things that make Christmas perfect. In fact, I have them all year-long, not just in December.
Thinking about the perfect Christmas, I ponder. What are the usual list of characters that make Christmases merry?
In my adult life, I have only had three live Christmas trees. I love the beauty, the un-perfect look, and the smell of a live tree. However, I don’t love the clean up, fire hazard, or the stress of stringing the lights.
Having a faux tree is a convenience, for sure. No needles on the floor. Faux trees, or forever trees, are also more economical because you can re-use the tree, year after year. And, if you buy a pre-lit tree, you have the ease of the lights, the ease of no stress of stringing the lights.
Ahhh, the Christmas hustle. The shopping, wrapping, planning, spending, baking and cooking. All these activities can be fun, if you don’t shove them into a few days. If you spread out all this joy, perhaps you can enjoy Christmas even more.
Most of us, though, myself included, try to jam the Christmas hustleinto one week. We look up and Christmas is at our front door and we still have so much to get done.
When I reminisce about Christmas past, when our children were young, I don’t really remember all the Christmas hustle. I remember the joy, the fun, the love. I remember many Christmas Eves filled with wonderment, excited children and Christmas movies in the background. I remember how excited I would be to see the excitement in their faces. Their sweet little faces.
Christmas traditions, in families, have been the handed down generation to generation, or they can start today. Traditions must start somewhere, at some time.
Now is a good time to start your own traditions or to begin a new one for your family. Christmas traditions are a fun way for families to engage in Christmas festivities, making memories, year after year.
Continuing family Christmas traditions, even as twenty-somethings, is both necessary and meaningful. My husband and I began our own traditions when we married 30 years ago and started our own little family. These traditions are still very important to me, and my entire family; we continue them today. Even though my youngest is almost 24 years old.
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. -Laura Ingalls Wilder
Christmas trees are the main element in my Christmas décor when I deck the halls at my house.
There is a quote I like a great deal; it sums up the way I started decorating for Christmas. “The Perfect Christmas Tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!” Charles N. Barnard brilliantly exclaimed.
Last year, I wanted a change in the way I decked my halls. I had used a lot of the same décor for years. Being empty nesters, and not having grandchildren yet, (YET!?), I was ready for a change. A grown-up change. I turned to Pinterest (duh?) and I found the change I was looking for in one picture.
It was a simple tree, in a simple wooden crate.
It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment! I have crates and baskets and tins, galore! I already use them year-round; all I had to do is buy more stick trees and that would be my new motif!
“Christmas is a box of tree ornaments that have become part of the family.” ~ Charles Schulz
Ornaments, to me, are not just red, shiny balls. Every one of them means something; they all hold a memory for me on my tree. I can tell you where or from whom I got the ornament. My tree is not one of those perfectly-placed-ornaments-that-must-be-in-the-perfect-place trees. No. My tree is packed with recollections because every ornament has a memory.
When we trim the tree, we reminisce.
“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”~ Bob Hope
I have handmade ornaments from both of my grandmothers and from my husband’s granny. I even have the nametag, attached to an ornament, which was the last gift I received from my MeMe and Papa, before he died. I love that I kept this and that I can see her handwriting. Papa passed away while I was in college and MeMe passed away when Danni was almost two.
We also have ornaments from our childhood. I have one from Mark and several from mine. They have weathered over the years, as have we, but they are very special to us.
Some of my ornaments were made by my children, either at school or at home. I remember this Christmas well. Alex was almost one and Danni had just turned four; Christmas 1992. I was pregnant with Cameron; due in January. Alex had Scarlet Fever very near Christmas and we were stuck at home. We had to get inventive and crafty. Danni and Alex made these ornaments one night while we were watching Christmas movies. This is Danni’s; Alex’s looked very different from hers.
“The most exquisite Christmas ornaments are made with little hands, full hearts, glitter and glue.” ~ Deborah Whipp
I have ornaments that were given to me by sweet friends.
When we were first married in 1987, we did not have many ornaments to put on our Christmas tree. I bought a kit and hand-painted a bunch to fill our first tree. I was so proud of them. One still hangs on our tree today.
I have ornaments from many, many ornament parties. (The one where everyone brings an ornament then you play that mean game where people can steal the one you are holding!) Our family, on both sides, back in the late 80’s and into the 90’s, played this game for many years, so I am blessed with many memories from these. Many have a few laughs involved, as well.
I have ornaments from a few special places I have traveled, like London, Paris, New York, New Orleans, and more.
I have ornaments from beloved dogs that have crossed the rainbow bridge. Bailey was a beagle that lived a very long time with our family.. Milli and Darby were very special to all of us. They were very much a part of our family. I still miss them today. They are the reason I love weenie dogs (a little obsessed actually!).
And because of that obsession, I of course have a collection of weenie dog ornaments.
But the majority of the ornaments that decorate my tree are the ones I have bought for my children throughout the years.
When my oldest daughter was born, in November of 1988, I started a tradition of buying her a picture ornament. She now has 27, my son has 23 and my youngest daughter has 22. That is 72 ornaments with my children’s pictures. That is my heart. My life. My tree.
It is wonderful to see how they have grown over the years. There are many of my son from football and my youngest wearing her cheer uniform. There are missing teeth. There are braces. But always smiles; on my face, at least, when I unpack them every December and place them on the tree.
When they each get married and have their own families (one day!), I will give them all of their own picture ornaments to hang on their own family tree.
My husband suggested that next year, I should get a separate tree for all the picture ornaments because there is no longer room for all of them on the tree we now have.
“It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.” ~ Marjorie Holmes, American writer.