What is more festive than twinkling lights on a beautiful tree as the backdrop to delicate, unique ornaments that each have their own story? The first Christmas tree Husband and I had together, in our first apartment, was pretty void of any such ornament. I had a couple of personal ornaments that I brought to the table and he had none so most of our ornaments were store bought. You know the kind; classic ornament balls – some with glitter, some shiny, some matte – all in a color scheme that made it look like you were artistically coordinated. None of them had a story behind it; they were simply their to take up space where ornaments should be. But now that we’ve been together over a decade, have 3 countries, two kids, two dogs, and countless travels under our belt, our Christmas ornament game has evolved from being void of stories to being full of them. Stories hang on every branch. Here are some of my favorite Christmas ornaments that hang on our tree.
What is the story of one of your favorite Christmas ornaments?
Artisanal Wood Tree. When we knew we were leaving the Dominican Republic last year, we also knew we wanted to take things with us that would remind us of our little island. We found this ornament in a favorite art shop in the Colonial Zone.
Christmas shop in Charleston. Charleston had been a place on my bucket list for a long time. When my parents talked about using their timeshare in Myrtle Beach, I decided to tack on Charleston and Savannah and make it a 2-week multi-generational family vacation. Add to that that it was one of the first places I visited as a sponsored travel writer and it was a pretty special trip.
A handmade Rudolph from a special place. Son wanted to “go to school” since his sister was starting school. We moved him to Tree House after trying him at another school that didn’t work. We assumed this one wouldn’t work either since 5 days a week seemed like too much for such a young kids but quicker than I could have imagined, he adapted and thrived and loved his life outside of our apartment walls. This is our reminder of Tree House and the school that stole all our hearts.
A homemade ornament. One of my favorite Christmas activities with the kids is making homemade ornaments. Sometimes they get hung up on our tree and sometimes they give them to their classmates as a holiday gifts. This year we borrowed a coffee filter art project and made snowflake ornaments.
Miss Piggy & full circle. When I was about Son’s age, Santa brought me a Miss Piggy Doll in a purple glittery dress. To tell you I remember that doll vibrantly is an understatement. I always felt very connected to Piggy; her sassy nature, her demand to be loved, her confident “give no f*cks” demeanor, her karate chopping directness. And then when Now Husband, Then Boyfriend and I met, we were Kermit & Piggy for our first Halloween. If ever there was a couple that was Husband and I, it was them. So when I had the choice of any “princess” ornament at Disney, I skipped all the others and went straight for the pig.
Kids’ Shoes. Obviously these are the epitome of special Christmas ornaments – the kids’ first pair of shoes. Aren’t they just the most adorable???
The personalized family ornament. When Son was born and our family was complete, I gave this to Husband. The beach and surfboards encompassed our island family lifestyle. Maybe now, I’ll need a Mexican themed one.
Recycled Art. Speaking of our island, beach family. Last Thanksgiving, we said goodbye to our Thanksgiving tradition of going to Cabarete. Up until that point, it was all our nuclear family knew as Thanksgiving. We shared so many amazing, fun moments with our CMS family there and it was certainly one of the tougher goodbyes. The ornament is a recycled can lid from an Eco-craft store in Cab.
Our Christmas Catrina. Our move has been exciting for lots of reasons, but filming a TV show is certainly top of the list (more on that at a different time). During the filming, our kids made these Catrina clay dolls. We were already coming off the high of visiting Guanajuato during the Catrina festival so I was super stoked to put a hook on it and hang it on our tree.
Our Santa Clause is better than your Santa Clause. I would brag that our Menlo Park Mall’s Santa has been voted “one of the best Santa’s in NJ” except it isn’t a fair vote since he is Santa. Our kids have 7 years worth of pictures with Santa and this particular Star Wars themed photo with the cousins is one the kids absolutely love. It’s the first ornament Daughter will show her friends when friends come over.
Baby’s First Christmas. Everyone loves a Baby’s First Christmas type ornament but even more so when it’s a personalized pun from their Godmother.
My newest ornament. Husband surprised me last week with my newest ornament. He bought it for me at a craft fair at our new school. It reminds me that some traditions survive moves and cross borders.
Happily Ever After. This is one of our oldest ornaments. My mother bought it for us right after we were married. It hung on our first tree in the Dominican Republic as newlyweds and new parents.
The store bought ornament. Of course a store bought ornament makes the list. In that same first apartment, Husband and I had a joint Christmas party. It was one of the first parties we threw together and one of the first times we were really blending our family and friends. We made delicious appetizers and Christmas cocktails, and sang Christmas carols loudly (specifically Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town because, well, we’re Jersey).
Then, we had a gift raffle. We bought 30 or so gifts: a couple of Starbucks gift cards, a few bottles of wine, and a bunch of cute ornaments from Target. We wanted to send everyone home with a little token from our party, so every person got a number that corresponded with a gift. There were a couple of extra gifts leftover at the end of the party that we hung on our tree and HOPE has hung there ever since.
A tree full of story
I’m a writer, a storyteller. Stories are powerful and they should be shared. A tree full of favorite Christmas ornaments is no different. They can tell the story of a family, of a life full of love and history and memory. A life well lived and well traveled and, of course, uncorked.
What is the story of one of your favorite Christmas ornaments?