A Beautiful Christmas Tree

        I have always wanted a beautiful Christmas tree. When I enter homes where there are designer trees--coordinating colors and ornaments skillfully arranged on a perfectly shaped tree--I am hit with a feeling of envy that is quite out of tune with the whole Christmas spirit thing. I can visualize how my beautiful tree would look. The color scheme would be red and gold, the style ornate and bordering on Baroque. When it comes to Christmas, I am a traditionalist.

           Raising six children, instead of a designer tree we have always had what can kindly be called a family tree. That means it is a mishmash of ornaments made out of pipe cleaners, colored paper, pine cones and cotton balls which had been lovingly made in kindergarten or at church parties. We also have some rather ugly salt clay candy canes and snowmen I made early in our marriage when our budget did not allow for frills such as tree ornaments. Mixed in with these are ornaments given to our children by teachers, friends, and neighbors, many beautiful in their own right, but definitely not coordinating in theme or color.
        However, I never lost hope of one day having a beautiful Christmas tree. I had a plan. I knew that eventually my children would grow-up, leave, and get homes of their own. I decided that as each child did this, I would present them with a box containing all of their Christmas ornaments. This would mean that in time the mishmash would be gone, and I could replace it with red and gold Baroque ornaments to my heart’s content.
        A couple of years ago we had a guest at our home when we decorated our Christmas tree. At that time my two oldest children were married, and I had begun to implement my plan. Two down, four to go. That year I watched as my children, all well past the kindergarten and even grade school ages, lovingly took each ornament out of the box and explained its history to our guest. They laughed at the funny angel Colby made when he was preschool age. They spoke of the piano teacher who had given them an ornament each year they took lessons from her. They carefully placed the salt clay ornaments on the tree where they would be in full view. As I watched this, it hit me—our family tree was really a tree full of memories. It was a history of our family through the years. And it was beautiful.
       This year all of my children except one are married, and most of the mishmash is gone. A few red and gold ornaments have begun to fill in where memories used to hang. My husband has insisted that we not give away the ornaments made out of canning jar lids and velour that have our children’s pictures on them, and secretly I am glad. I have also decided not to throw out the salt clay ornaments. I have a nagging suspicion that once all of the mishmash ornaments are gone, I will miss them. I will look at my beautiful designer tree, and it will seem impersonal. But then I will smile and think of all of those  missing ornaments hanging on trees in six new households, and I will think of them as being seeds for my children—the beginning of family trees of their own.


  1. So glad I'm not the only one:) Thanks for expressing it so beautifully!


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