I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about “Christmas Decorating Style.” Yes, there is such a thing. Are you more country, contemporary, traditional, or whimsical? All red, all gold, all green…there are magazine articles, HGTV shows and Martha Stewart specials to aid you in your yuletide style endeavors. While we were talking I looked around at my partially decorated house, still many boxes left to go, and decided my holiday decorating is definitely traditional. Except where I have put in a lot of whimsy, which really is my preference. Except where my children have made me things or I inherited something that was definitely country and I am very sentimentally attached. Except my tree, which is the crown of the Christmas-time fashion, and it is just a lot of, well, everything.
It is a tradition in our family to decorate the tree all together. We divide the ornaments into two groups. The first group is the favorites, and everyone has their own personal ornaments they like to hang each year, and then there’s the stack of just hang ’em where you can find a branch. Or, if you’re 2 year old William, hang them all on the same branch.
This year, when all the ornaments were on the tree, Richard and I walked around talking about each one. He made a comment about how many ornaments one could accrue over a dozen Christmases. I remember the first Christmas that we were married I had to run out to K-Mart and buy a $5 box of 50 wooden ornaments to take up space in our tree. Several of them were missing arms or heads, probably left behind in the cheap ornament factory. These days if we find a missing arm, we know it is because Caroline knocked that mouse off the tree 4 times last year, Marfy was dancing with that ballerina ornament and flung it in the middle of her twirl, or William was flying the airplane instead of hanging it (said airplane has still not made its way to the tree). Those original space-filling ornaments have now been replaced by 12 years of memories – family, children, travel, crafts created by tiny hands, and good old-fashioned rivalry. The rivalry would be college: each year my sister and her husband give us a University of Georgia ornament and we return the favor with a Georgia Tech token for their tree. Needless to say, the BACK of our tree is covered with red and black and bulldogs.
I am thankful to have several ornaments from my childhood. I have one ornament that I got to choose from my Mimi’s tree when I was a teenager (and going through a rather gaudy phase, I must say, by the choice of the shiny pink and gold ball, but hey, it WAS 1988). Many ornaments that remind me of my mother’s tree when I was growing up, and was always the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Richard’s grandmother has given him a wooden ornament with his name and the year on it almost every Christmas of his life, and has carried this on to our children as well. We have ornaments from the births of all of our children. Ornaments with pictures in them. A beautiful pair of lovebirds my mother gave us for our first Christmas as husband and wife. Soccer balls, ballet slippers, skiing penguins. All the loves our children have gone through the last few years that we have found to represent in ornaments. Santa in the sand at St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, a moose skiing in Breckenridge, a teacup from Amelia Island, Florida, and the courthouse in Richard’s Tennessee hometown. Our tree is overflowing with memories of celebrations and family. At this often hectic time of year, I know that I need to remember how blessed we are. I know that Christmastime can be overwhelming, and that in itself is a blessing. Most of all, I just want to thank God for these precious gifts that are represented on our tree, not under it. For me, that is some seriously fabulous Christmas style.