Ornaments & Tradition

My family has never done the color-coordinated Christmas tree thing. We give ornaments as gifts. I have ornaments that are as old as I am.

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The corrosion is from living in Virginia for two years. Stupid humidity.

My husband is not used to this tradition yet. When we were decorating this year, he starting grabbing random ornaments to decorate the tree. I told him to hang his own ornaments and he replied that “It doesn’t matter whose ornament it is!” Oh yes it does. Most of the fun of decorating the tree (at least in my family) comes from unwrapping your ornaments every year and going “I remember this one!” “Oh look at that one!” “We got this one that year because [insert life event].” My husband doesn’t have a ton to hang yet, and neither does my daughter. They can help hang my ornaments, but only after I’ve unwrapped them and passed them over. Every year they’ll collect more. I have two huge boxes full, and half of them didn’t even make it onto the tree this year.

Both my parents give Hallmark ornaments as gifts, but they’ve grown far more complex and expensive over the years. You can now easily spend $25 on a single ornament. My father used to give one to every relative and tried to pick a series that fit their personality. My uncle is a biker/car guy, so he got the Harley collection. My sister got Crayola. Things like that. Sadly, the things are now so pricey that he’s giving them to immediate family only. My mom keeps saying she’s going to stop giving them, or only give them to the grandkids, but has yet to follow through. It’s a big tradition in my family. At Mom’s house we could open one present on Christmas eve and it was always the Hallmark.

Last year I realized something though. Out of all the ornaments I have, the ones that I treasure the most aren’t usually Hallmarks- it’s the hand-crafted ornaments my grandma gave me, the unique ornaments, the ones I got when I was very young, before the Hallmark thing became a tradition. They are the ornaments I carefully unwrap from tissue paper, not extract from a Hallmark box.

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Which got me thinking about V and which ornaments she’ll treasure the most. Maybe it’s just the fact that I got these ornaments when I was younger. After all, the older the Hallmark ornament the more I like it. Maybe it’s just a time thing. Then again, when something is hand-made it tends to be so much cooler. Look at the one above. The right ornament is one I made. The left is something I think was purchased by my grandmother, but it’s exactly the kind of craft we used to DO with my grandmother as kids (clothespin dolls).

So I’ve been trying to have V make an ornament or two every year that she can look back on and say “Holy shit that’s X years old and I made it!” I’m also trying to gift similar ornaments. I want them to be memorable.

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