Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas "Family Tree"

Dining Room "Family Tree"
So much of what we enjoy about the Christmas season has to do with traditions.  There is a certain comfort in returning to the familiar, especially when that "familiar" has fond memories attached.  Fond memories of time spent with loved ones, of our childhood, or even mentally returning us to a place which we are no longer capable of returning.  And for these reasons, I love pulling out all of my Christmas decorations.

In general, I would say that I am a very nostalgic, sentimental person.  A good majority (not all, but many) of our ornaments and decorations are items that have a very specific memory attached to them.
Family Room Tree
Specifically, what prompted me to write this post, is a "family tree" of sorts.  I began to assemble the small tree in my dining room.  The tree itself, as well as all the ornaments, used to be my mom's.  Mom would assemble this 4ft trees in the later years of her life, when she no longer had the desire to tackle a fresh tree.  Since I now decorate the tree using my mom's decorations, the tree looks the same as it did when it was in her living room and thus, brings me right back to the warmth of my mom's home.  Included in this tree's decorations (which my mom also used) were two items made by my late Aunt Maryann (my mom's sister).  Aunt Maryann was very crafty.  With her talent, she made the angel tree topper and the quilted tree skirt which adorn this tree.  She made these as gifts for my mom and now I am happy to display them each year.  Under my dining room's tree is a ceramic manger.  Although the figurines inside this (dining room) manger were store bought, the manger itself was painted by my mother-in-law many, many years ago.

Notre Premiere Noel
Our family room's 9ft Christmas tree does have several generic bulb ornaments for some "sparkle" on the tree, yet the majority of ornaments are from places that we have traveled together (pre and post Madeline)  Our tree is adorned with ornaments from Russia, London, Germany, Canada, Virginia Beach, Outer Banks, Austin TX, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Disney...etc, etc, etc.  In fact, the FIRST ornament we hang on our tree *every year* was an ornament of "Notre Premiere Noel" (Our First Christmas) that we purchased on a leg of our honeymoon, in Montreal.  In addition to travel ornaments, we buy Madeline a special ornament every year that is representative of her year (in hopes of giving a small collection of sentimental ornaments when she gets married and has her own tree) .  We have "Parents To Be" ornaments (from when we were "paper pregnant").  I have a couple ornaments that were regulars on the Christmas trees of my childhood, a "Dorothy" (my mom's name) ornament and even an ornament that I received as a favor at a high school Christmas date dance.  Many people might wonder why I keep these old ornaments but me, I love to pull out these "time capsules" that remind me of a particular event of my/our life.

Childhood Manger & Nativity Set I Painted
The manger that is under our main tree was also under the Christmas trees of my childhood.  My mom continued to use this manger for the rest of her life.  The pieces of the Nativity set are not the original pieces.  After 6 kids, legs of sheep were missing and at some point in time, the kings and/or shepherd's heads were broken off and re-glued.  To say that the set was in rough shape is NOT an exaggeration at all!  In my early 20's I was taking ceramics and came across the greenware for the EXACT mold of figurines that was in the roughed-up nativity set of my childhood.  After an entire year of working on the set, I presented my mom with a new "refurbished" Nativity set painted by me.  It is this set that now resides in the manger of my childhood each Christmas season.

Refurbished Bell
Another piece from my childhood is a jingle bell.  If the "bell" is pulled, a musical box which is located inside of the bell plays "Jingle Bells".  Every year that bell would hang on the door in the foyer of my childhood home.  I specifically remember *repeatedly* pulling that string and dancing or pretend (in socks)  "ice skating" on the linoleum of that foyer.  Again, that piece was ridiculously old and looked as though it belonged in the trash.  However, a couple of years ago I decided to take the time to give this bell a new life.  And now, it once again hangs on a door in a foyer....but this time it is in my own house.

Also, every year as a child we would rush to pull out a small teddy bear out of a small shoebox filled with ornaments. (In fact, I also store our "special" ornaments in a shoe box within a Christmas tote) Each year, the teddy would be a "hide-n-seek" prop.  We siblings would take turns hiding the teddy bear in the tree while the rest of us would have to try to find it.  This teddy bear, although it has specific Christmas memories, is displayed year-round in my curio cabinet.  And will never be re-furbished.  I love it just the way it is.

Childhood Tree Topper - Maybe Next Year...
I do still have a few items tucked away in a bin that I cannot seem to part with.  I have the angel (rough shape) that graced my childhood trees. The "candle" lights that were placed in the windows.  Maybe one day I will fix up the old angel or light those candles.  But in the meantime, I take a peek at them once a year and feel a warmth in my heart.

May your Christmas season be filled with the warmth of happy memories and the making of new memories.


Maryann said...

Thank you Amy for the special memories. I also have the same red, green, and white tree ruffle under my tree! Additionally, we put the same angel tree topper (with her holding lights in her hands) on our tree when I was growing up. When I saw the photo I recognized it immediately. Haven't seen it for years and don't even know if it exists anymore. So both Aunt Dorothy and my mom had one... I wonder the history.

Chris said...

Teddy lives!!!

Craig and Phyllis said...

I'm with you about being sentimental. I love pulling out our ornaments and remembering times past. Enjoyed reading all of your memories. I've never heard of anyone hiding anything in the tree for siblings to find. That was a clever idea. You had me thinking if I had thrown out any old ornaments.... Now I feel quilty! : )

I also caught up on some of your past posts that I have missed reading. Things are always busy here. I thought about you with all the snow that Buffalo had! Saw on your Facebook that you missed all of the big stuff - this time!