Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All of my Readers & My favorite Christmas Tradition

I want to apologise right at the start to my readers for not posting for the last few weeks. As I am dealing with a disability and chronic pain, I had to save my energy for tasks that I needed to get done. That has left very little time for any posts. I will work harder next year to be prepared for the holidays and see if I can do a little better at posting more regularly.

Christmas Eve 2013, waiting for Santa. Our tree looks like most others until you look closer.

Every family has their own favourite holiday traditions, some old some new. My favourite tradition in our family has always been our Christmas ornaments and putting up the tree. We do not have a special date to put up our tree, it is done when we can manage it. What makes our tree decorating special is that each of us have our own decorations and we are each responsible for putting on and taking off our own decorations.

We are all busy these days and some of us are too sick or too sore to schedule when things are done and the girls work more during the month of December, but we always find time to decorate the tree. I love sitting in the room with the lights down low. A few candles burning (quite a few) I love candles. When you sit looking at the tree the coloured lights get a glow ring around them. The light reflects off of the shiny ornaments. There is nothing like it. I do get tired of it after a month, but we leave our tree up until a few days after the New Year. About ten years ago we had to switch from a real tree to artificial due to tree allergies. I was always sick at Christmas with stuffy nose, itchy throat and watering eyes and then I realised it was allergies. I have not been sick at Christmas since we changed our tree to artificial. I do miss the real tree but not enough to get sick over it, and the advantage is you can put it up so much earlier. For some reason I can manage bringing in a few branch clippings but the whole tree is just too much.

Our tree is pretty ordinary if you only glance at it, but if you take the time to look up close we have hundreds of ornaments, each with their own story or history. When I met my husband we had no ornaments, we had to start from new. I spent many hours that first year making salt dough ornaments with my step daughter. She was eight at the time and we spent every weekend for the month of December creating our hand painted treasures. Unfortunately they have not survived the years. We stored them in the attic and the heat and moisture destroyed them. These ornaments only survive in the memory of Lynsay and myself. Along with these ornaments I made dozens of ribbon bows to fill in the holes. I also made a few cross stitch ball ornaments and some painted light bulb ornaments. I have a snowman light bulb and a Mr and Mrs Claus set.

 It made for a very charming and homey tree. There is no room anymore to put on bows as the tree is getting very full. That year I decided to start Lynsay and ornament tradition. I started giving her an ornament every year that represented something about her year. I also gave her her own box to keep her ornaments, with the intention that when she was grown and ready to put up her own tree she would have a box of ornaments to get her started. I do not know if she has carried on this tradition with her own children but I hope so. Lynsay is the only one to take her ornaments to her new home so far. Both of my other girls still spend Christmas day at home and choose to have their ornaments on the tree at their parents home, even though they do not live here.

When I had my other daughters I started with this tradition from when they were born. My Mom found little porcelain baby shoes that always hang at the top of our tree. These are two of my favourite ornaments as they always bring back memories of the girls as babies. I have given the girls their baby shoes to put on the tree themselves for the past few years. The shoes always hang near the top of the tree in a safer place away from young children and pets. I miss the moment when I unwrap them from the tissue and put them in their honorary place.

The year the girls were born a coworker crocheted each of them a little bear. They have been on our tree every year since then.

Every year since then I have bought or made an ornament that reflects who they are that year. I try to choose to recognise something special from their year that they will want to remember for years to come. When they were little it was whatever was the most exciting for them.

The first snow when they were little resulted in a little snowman ornament. The first year they were so excited about Santa Claus was the year they got a Santa Claus Ornament. When Trina thought she wanted to be a ballerina she got a little ballet ornament.

Mandy always loved animals, especially kitties so for years I searched for the perfect kitten ornament for her. When she was little every piece of clothing she wore had to have kitties on them. So of course she had to have kitty ornaments too. Half of the tradition is decorating the tree, but for me the hardest and most important part of our tradition is choosing the perfect ornament. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want right from the start. Like the year our dog of nineteen years left us for a better place, I had to find the girls a small Simba ornament.

That year it brought tears to their eyes when they opened it, but now it just brings smiles when they pull it out to hang on the tree. This is the only year they both got the same ornament. Every other year their ornament has been one of a kind. I spend more time looking for the perfect ornament than I do finding all of their other gifts. To me that is the most important gift under the tree. I hope they cherish this as much as I do. I always feel stressed shopping for Christmas until I find the perfect ornament, and when I do I know that everything else will work out.

One year I found this little ornament that represented both of them. A little pair of skates filled with kittens. On the side of the ornament is the words sisters. You can see the little acoustic guitar in the background that I found Mandy the year she started guitar lessons.

When you look closely at our tree we have a vast theme. Trina who has loved figure skating since she was five has so many skates and skaters on the tree it almost takes over the theme. She has held very steady in her love of skating so she has had not too many changes in her ornaments. Her ornaments range in price from a lowly $1.00 from a craft fair to $35.00 for a glass skater from the Christmas store.

Skaters and skates in so many colours and shapes. Sometimes I cannot believe that I can still find a skating ornament that she does not already have.

I looked at this ornament for two years before I dug in and bought it. We have skating ornaments that were made by all of the other skaters at potluck parties we held for the skaters and their parents. We used to get together with all of the skaters from her group (level) at various times of the year to help with team spirit. This little snowman skater was made at one of those get together's.

Trina's new skating ornament this year. She only skates part time now, but it is still one of her favourite things to do.
 She has a few other ornaments from over the years too, but I always try to find her a new and different skate or two. The year both girls started driving, they both got an car ornament.

 And the year they graduated I found them an ornament that reminded them of their graduation. This ornament is the same colour as Trina's graduation dress. Somewhere on the tree is a graduation ornament of Mandy's too but I could not find it while I was writing this.

Trina still has a piece of bark that she glittered in kindergarten and a small string of cranberries she made almost twenty years ago.

She has the ornament her grade one teacher gave her. And a few skating themed ornaments from her coach Jannine.

Mandy has some of her school days ornaments too, one of my favourites is a little paper doily angel with her head picture and little foil wings.

Mandy has changed over the years and has collected many different ornaments. She started with loving kitties.  Then as she started to grow her interests changed too. She loved her baby dolls so I found her a doll ornament. This is another one from the Christmas store in Victoria. I had to go a long way to find it. Victoria is a four or five hour drive from home.

She has a few guitar ornaments from when she took guitar lessons, her guitar ornaments go from acoustic to electric just like her lessons. She tried skating so she got skates too, she tried art lessons so she got a palette with many colours.

The year she was in a play at school, Partridge in a pear tree, she asked for a glass ornament that year, so I found a beautiful glass pear with gold glitter.

 She even has a beer bottle for when she turned legal age. This year she got a little dog ornament to represent both her puppy, who is very large now that was her Christmas gift last year and her driftwood carving that she did with a chainsaw this year.

In among all of these ornaments are many others too. Their Nana always finds them a cute or quirky ornament to add to their collection.

The tree is getting pretty full now. I have the ornaments that the girls have given me and now I have a few that my grandson Dylan made for me. We also have the first ornament that my husbands family put on their tree, the year he was born.

This little house is from Bill's family tree the year he was born.

Two of Bill's vintage ornaments from his Mom and Dad's tree.
When his Mom stopped putting up a tree she gave us all of her ornaments from over the years. He always complains that he does not have a box of ornaments, so this year I got him another ornament with a deer on it. He loves hunting.

I have a couple of angels from my Mom's tree from when I was growing up. I spent many hours one year with my Mom making white lace angels for her tree. At that time she had two trees in her house. One with all of our old and traditional ornaments. And the other was an angel tree. All decorated with gold balls and white angels. It was beautiful. I have no pictures but I can remember it like it was yesterday. My Moms other tree was covered with glass ornaments. Round ones, oval ones with little points on the ends, tiny glass pine cones and tons of silver tinsel. I will never forget putting on all of that tinsel on strand at a time.

I now have three grandchildren and they have created some of my memories too. The oldest of my grandchildren Dylan made me a beautiful hand ornament the year they were here for Christmas. His little brother Nigel is not quite old enough to make me an ornament yet, but he fell in love with a little wooden penquin ornament on the tree, the year they were here. The ornament was a gift from a friend, but it always reminds me of Nigel too. I am looking forward to another generation of memories in the years to come.

My girls both have their own boxes for their ornaments. When they were old enough to put their ornaments on the tree I made them a divided box, from a cardboard file box. I covered the boxes with small bits of after Christmas wrapping paper scraps. It took me hours but they used those boxes for many years. They are falling apart after almost twenty years, but I still cherish them. A few years ago I found new and bigger boxes for them. They work great, but for me they are not nearly as memorable. They have so many ornaments now that they need more than one box anyway. I love listening to my girls when they put their ornaments on the tree as they usually make comments about them and their memories that bring me back in time.

This is one of the original boxes. You can see the collage of used gift wrap that covers it.

Inside I made divided trays to hold and protect the ornaments.

The top tray is flat with a string handle. The flat tray holds ornaments that are too big to fit in the divided squares.

The new purchased boxes. Mandy has always joked about wanting a moose as a pet so hers has wild life. Trina loves the quote Live, Laugh, Love so I found one with the quote on it.
The final stage of their ornaments will be when they start to put up their own trees. They will take their box of ornaments with them and they will already have a beautiful box of memories. I always look in the magazines and on line and see beautiful trees, with all colour co-ordinated ornaments and themes and I think about how fun it would be to do one of those trees but as soon as I see our tree with all of our memories on it, I soon lose interest in anything but our beautiful tree of memories. Last year I bought them both a beautiful tree angel for the top of their own tree when they get there. Mandy's is trimmed in yellow, her favourite colour (it came that way) and Trina's I added a little trim and some skates to make it into a skating angel.

My angel is also special. We had no angel or star for the top of our tree so I made ours. She has blond hair and cupped hands. Her dress and wings are made from a gold fabric trimmed with lace. She is adorned with beads and holly shaped rhinestones. She is over twenty years old and still looks the same as the year I made her. But what really makes her special for me is that I also made one similar (no two are alike) for my best friend Lori and when I look at my angel atop my tree, I always think of her knowing her tree is topped just like mine.

She has no lights or feather wings, but she is our traditional angel.
Do you have a special holiday tradition that makes your Christmas special? We have a few others like our traditional dinner. We always open our presents on Christmas morning, with cinnamon buns and oranges and homemade sausage rolls to get us through until we are done unwrapping one gift at a time. The girls have always had really large stockings that have always been filled. This year was their final year with their giant stockings. Next year I will make new stockings for everyone and we will all participate in the stockings. Everyone will be expected to find a few little things for everyone. Instead of only the girls getting a sock. They are 23 and 21 now it seemed like it was time. Now that they wear expensive makeup and wear fourteen dollar socks it takes a lot to fill a big sock. From now on that will be saved for the children in our future. Their stocking can be wrapped up and put away for their own children.

Our tree on Christmas Eve after Santa came. Shows the girls big stockings that are now officially retired.

Our tree by day. As you can see a tree is not always just a tree. Ours is a history of our lives. It has grown with us as we have aged. With boughs full of memories. It has become a beautiful way to show who we are and what we love. 

I have only shown you a small selection of our ornaments as I could never include all of the hundreds we have. But what you have shown tells the story of our tree and its growth over the years.

I hope you have enjoyed sharing my favourite Christmas tradition.
Looking forward to next year



  1. thank you for sharing, Cherie, Sharon C.

  2. I hope you enjoyed sharing my favourite Christmas tradition. I have been doing this for the last thirty six years. Finding that all important ornament has taken up a lot of my time and thoughts over all of those years. Happy New Year.

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