Ornaments of Life

I must admit, I love Christmas ornaments.   I know  just when my admiration, or maybe obsession, began.  Every year, on Christmas Eve we would have our family Christmas gathering.  Each year it would be at a different family members home. a tradition we still hold.  I think I was about 14 the year my dad’s cousin hosted the party. I can still remember walking inside the house.  My grandmother and her sister in the kitchen readying the various dishes, the younger cousins in the living room  eyeing the packages under the tree.  And there, off to the side- the tree itself.

I made sure I greeted everyone, but that tree, for some reason seemed to draw me back.   It was about 7 feet tall, lush and green.  I can still recall the  smell of  the pine scent mingled with the spiced cider from the kitchen;  see the lights as they twinkled, but all the ornaments that adorned that tree were what truly drew me in.  I don’t think I had ever seen so many ornaments on one tree.

There were  balls of various colors, snowflakes and santa’s and christmas tree ornaments. There were glass and crystal and ceramic ornaments.  The lights sparkled and twinkled as they bounced from ornament to ornament. The tree seemed to be alive and dancing in its corner of the room.  I think the sheer number of ornaments that graced the tree was what was so special.  I remember thinking, someday I would like a tree as beautiful as that.

I started collecting ornaments after that year. I would buy the annual Wedgwood, or Lenox ornaments.  One or two, ok  sometimes 3 or four , each year.   One year, the pen pal I had, in what was still East Germany, sent me ornaments for my tree.  Three dozen ornaments!  One box had a dozen red balls, one had a dozen pastel balls and the third had a dozen pine cone shapes in red green and gold.  I still use those special ornaments each year.

As the years have gone on, I have collected my ornaments, always thinking of that special tree. Each place we travel to, I try to find a representative ornament.  Every year, as we bring out the containers of Christmas decorations, and begin to adorn the tree, we smile as we recall where the particular ornament came from.  The Statue of Liberty from New York, The cable car from San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Dirty Sally’s in Ten sleep Wyoming.  Decorating the tree becomes more than just placing the ornaments, it brings us together and reminds us of family times and all we have gone through.

Our tree isn’t quite as full as the one I recall in my youth, although I continue to add to the collection each year.   Maybe the tree isn’t completely full, but my life is, and those small ornaments remind me every year of all that we have, and what a joy my family is to me.

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