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Posts Tagged ‘ornaments’

This year, it seemed that fully half my friends (at least, the ones who post on Instagram) hauled their Christmas decorations out in early November. I couldn’t fault them for it: as my sister and others have said, 2020 needs all the joy it can get. My mom famously decorates early every year (my parents have three Christmas trees), but everyone else seemed to jump on that bandwagon this year. It made a lot of sense to me, but I just was not ready to put up my own decorations.

Decorating the tree is one of my favorite Christmas traditions: I am one of those people who loves tons of (small, white) lights, and for whom nearly every ornament has a story. But since my divorce, that ritual is a bit fraught. Last year, I had my friend Lauryn come over and help me decorate, and this year, I asked my guy to help me do it.

We hauled my little tree and assorted decorations out of the basement on a Saturday night, and assembled it on the fireplace. I strung the lights that night (he provided moral support and Christmas music), and we waited another week to do the ornaments. I sort of like the look with just the lights, and it felt like a small acknowledgment of Advent: waiting, letting the process take its time.

Last weekend, we unwrapped a few cherished ornaments (plus two new ones I bought at Albertine Press), and hung them on the tree. And we also bought stockings at Target, and hung them on the snowflake hangers I’ve had for years. Old alongside new.

I can’t erase the memories of Christmases past, nor do I entirely want to. But we are moving forward, and I’m so pleased with the effect. It’s cozy and twinkly, and since I’m home all the time these days, I get plenty of chances to enjoy it.

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jer christmas tree star

Every year, I highlight a few of the ornaments on my Christmas tree and their stories. (That’s the hubs, putting the star on our tree last weekend.)

This season is all about traditions and stories, and the tree in my living room holds many stories, old and new.

charlie brown heart ornament christmas

When I was about six years old, my family spent Christmas in an apartment in the Dallas area while our new house was being finished. Most of our things – including our Christmas decorations – were in storage. So we bought a tiny Christmas tree and made ornaments out of glitter, wax paper and glue to hang on its branches. Dad and I lovingly refer to them as our “Charlie Brown” Christmas ornaments.

More than 25 (!) years later, a few hearts, stars and bells have survived, and I finally remembered to ask Mom to set aside a couple for me to bring back to Boston last year. I am so pleased to have them on my tree now.

beefeater soldier christmas ornament

My aunt Charlene (my mother’s childhood best friend) has sent us many ornaments over the years. This cheerful Beefeater guard arrived long before I ever visited London, but I love him especially because I’ve spent so much time in the UK now. (He’s definitely more whimsical than his real-life counterparts.)

egg christmas ornament

Deep in the heart of Salzburg, Austria, is a shop filled with hundreds (thousands?) of hand-painted eggs, carefully stacked in crates and tied onto trees with ribbon. It’s a dazzling sight. I’ve been there twice, but I managed to lose the egg I brought back for myself, years ago. My sweet friend Laura knew this, and she brought one back for me when she visited Salzburg with her family last year.

snowflake crochet christmas ornament

I think my mom ordered these starched crochet snowflakes from a catalog many years ago. There are still a few on her tree, and now there are a few on mine.

pickle christmas ornament

The hubs and I found this goofy pickle ornament on a weekend trip to Boerne, Texas, right after we got married. Apparently, the person who can find the pickle on the tree gets a prize. It makes me laugh every year.

Do your Christmas ornaments have stories? (I’ll never have a sleek, color-coordinated tree – I love my mismatched collection of ornaments too much.)

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get your jingle on sign christmas

We put up our Christmas tree last weekend, while listening to the traditional Christmas music: the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, Elvis’ Blue Christmas, and some a cappella carols by the Robert Shaw Chorale – my husband’s choice. (They take him back to his high school days, singing carols with his show choir while wearing a Dickensian suit and top hat.)

christmas tree

I always love unwrapping our funky, mismatched ornaments and reminiscing about their origins: This ruby slipper came from the Smithsonian gift shop in D.C. Jana gave me this bell when I helped assemble her kids’ teacher gifts one year. These glass balls came from my parents’ first Christmas tree.

Every year, I share a few photos of beloved ornaments and their stories. For the sixth (!) year, here they are:

songbird ornament music

Last December, when J and I met Shanna for a pre-Christmas lunch in Abilene, she handed us this lovely bird ornament – “because you guys are my songbird friends,” she said. I miss singing with Shanna at church (she used to live here in Boston, but lives in Atlanta now), but the songbird makes me smile.

gingerbread house ornament

I ordered a set of three stuffed gingerbread houses from Etsy a few years ago. I gave two of them to my friends Abi and Bethany, and kept this one for myself. We all lived in Abilene at the time; now Bethany is in Nashville and Abi and I are in Boston. I like thinking of these ornaments on each of our trees every year.

snowflake ornament sparkly

A dozen or so of my ornaments came from It’s About Time, a lovely shop in Abilene filled with antiques and housewares and all kinds of beautiful things, run by my friend Pam. This sparkly snowflake-esque one might be my favorite.

silver bell ornament

For our first Christmas as a married couple, my mom gave us a gift card to buy our Christmas tree and a few dozen ornaments from Hobby Lobby. These silver bells are from that shopping trip, and of course they evoke the Bing Crosby song.

tree ornament

My aunt Charlene – my mother’s best friend, who lives in Ohio – used to send us Christmas ornaments every year. This little tree is one of them – and as the hubs pointed out, it’s so meta. A tree on a tree.

If you celebrate, do you have a color-coordinated tree, or one with assorted ornaments, like mine? (If you have ornament stories, I’d love to hear them.)

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We put up our big, beautiful Christmas tree this past weekend, listening to Elvis, George Strait and Charlie Brown while we did so (it’s tradition).

christmas tree

My husband picked up takeout from our favorite Indian restaurant, while I unraveled and strung the lights.

lights christmas tree decorating

I am my mother’s daughter – I love small white lights, lots of them – and also my father’s daughter, because I love the mismatched, heirloom, handmade, funky ornaments on my tree.

Most of our ornaments have stories, and every year, I snap a few photos to share with you. Here are this year’s gems:

fenway ornament apple

I bought this ornament for J the first year we lived in Boston, from a handmade craft market downtown. It makes me smile, especially in light of this year’s World Series win. (Hanging above it is an apple that I think came from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Drake.)

angel christmas tree ornament

This angel also came from a teacher – Mrs. Hicks, who directed a pull-out program called Project Challenge at the school I went to in first grade. My name and the year are on the back.

suitcase travel christmas ornament

My mom gave me this suitcase last year. Three of the four cities (Rome, Paris and New York) are places I’ve visited and love.

moose christmas ornament

During my year in Oxford as a graduate student, I had an American friend whose nickname was Moose. I found these silver moose ornaments at Northlight, a Scandinavian housewares shop on the High Street, and bought one for him and one for myself. (They’re difficult to photograph, because they reflect everything.)

telephone booth christmas ornament

This ornament came from a Christmas shop in my West Texas hometown, but it represents my love for the UK (and its red phone boxes).

Do your ornaments have stories? I’d love to hear them.

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We’ve hauled our tree and ornaments up from the basement, put on the Christmas music, and decked our halls. As per tradition, I snapped photos of a few treasured ornaments to share with you.

red boots ornament

Sweet Bethany sent me these red boots last year. They look just like my full-size red wellies.

eeyore bell ornament

This bell-ringing Eeyore was a gift from a high school boyfriend. He spent years hiding in a drawer, till I found him, dusted him off and put him on the tree.

green christmas ball ornament

My friend Courtney gave me this glass ball back in seventh grade. Her familiar, loopy handwriting makes me smile.

teapot mount vernon martha washington

J and I visited Mount Vernon this summer on our trip to D.C., and came home with this wee reproduction of Martha Washington’s Blue Canton everyday teapot. It brings to mind three of my favorite things: travel, tea and adventures with my love.

snowman ornament christmas tree

This snowman’s origins are lost to history, but he’s been part of my family’s Christmas collection for many years. I love his red hat and tiny bottle-brush tree.

I am staunchly devoted to my mismatched, eclectic, storied collection of ornaments – unwrapping them each year is like opening a series of tiny gifts. I’ve come to love the tradition of sharing them with you on the blog. Check out my first, second and third ornament posts for more stories.

What kinds of ornaments hang on your tree – do you have matched sets or a colorful hodgepodge?

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The Christmas tree is up again, and I’ve been spending time in front of it every night, enjoying the soft glow and the lights glinting off my beloved ornaments. I shared some of my favorites with you last year and the year before, but of course I didn’t cover them all. So welcome to Round Three of ornament photos and stories:

I had a thing for rabbits as a child, so Mom gave me this ballerina angel bunny ages ago. She nearly lost her skirt a couple of years ago and had to be mended, but her smile is as sweet as ever.

My parents travel to Santa Fe at least once a year, and this mariachi man came from one of their trips there. He adds a little Southwestern flavor to our Christmas celebrations.

Both J and I grew up in the land of high school football and fierce school pride – so, on our tree, we have ornaments representing the purple and gold of my Midland High Bulldogs:

And the black and gold of the Garland High Owls:

On a recent trip to Marblehead, we found this cool little tree made of seashells, topped with a wee starfish. Appropriately beachy since we now live on the coast:

My parents decorated their first Christmas tree in 1978 with a few strands of colored lights (which still make an appearance each year at their house) and simple, classic colored glass balls. I’ve inherited a couple dozen, and I love them for their patina and glowing colors and most of all for their history.

Do you have a tree full of quaint/wacky/nostalgic Christmas ornaments – or do you have a color-coordinated, matching tree? My sister does, but I’m too sentimental – I love these ornaments all the more for their stories.

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Betsy turned and led the way to the far end of the store.

There on a long table Christmas tree ornaments were set out for sale. There were boxes and boxes full of them, their colors mingling in bewildering iridescence. There were large fragile balls of vivid hues, there were gold and silver balls; there were tinsel angels, shining harps and trumpets, gleaming stars.

‘Here,’ said Betsy, ‘here we buy.’

She looked at Winona, bright-eyed, and Winona looked from her to the resplendent table.

‘Nothing,’ Tacy tried to explain, ‘is so much like Christmas as a Christmas-tree ornament.’

‘You get a lot for ten cents,’ said Tib.

They gave themselves then with abandon to the sweet delight of choosing. It was almost pain to choose. Each fragile bauble was gayer, more enchanting than the last. And now they were not only choosing, they were buying. What each one chose she would take home; she would see it on the Christmas tree; she would see it year after year, if she were lucky and it did not break.

They walked around and around the table, touching softly with mittened hands.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Maud Hart Lovelace

As someone who loves Christmas, Christmas-tree ornaments, and everything about Betsy-Tacy, this quote is, well, just perfect.

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I posted last December about some of the ornaments I treasure, and look forward to unwrapping each year. (Does anyone else think unwrapping the ornaments to hang is like unwrapping a little pile of presents?)

As J and I were decorating our Christmas tree on Sunday, I realized there were lots  I hadn’t shared with you. So here are a few:

This macaroni angel has been singing her carols on my tree for years. I think my mom bought her at a craft fair or something when I was little. Isn’t she adorable?

I went to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, when I was about 14, and watched a glassblower make wonderful creations like this little candle. I couldn’t resist bringing it (and a glass musical note) home with me.

I’ve made “gingerbread” ornaments twice in my life – once with my sister and our friend Karen, when I was about eight or nine, and once in college, with sweet Bethany. We have ornaments on our tree from both times (I actually can’t remember which batch this tree is from).

My sweet husband loves penguins, so there are a few peeking out from the branches of our tree, including this dapper little birdie. Doesn’t he look Dickensian?

Last December, Jana called in a panic one night, needing help wrapping ornaments for teacher/co-worker gifts. Amanda and I went over to help her, and each received a bell to take home.

Any ornaments that are close to your heart? I’d love to hear about them!

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ornamental treasures

Inspired by Jana‘s recent post about her beloved ornaments, I’ve decided to share a few of mine with you. We are hurtling toward festivity around here, and I’m trying to make it through the last bits of work before enjoying TEN DAYS off. (Woo hoo!)

Last week, we had people over three times in four days; then we drove to Dallas to spend the weekend with Jeremiah’s family and their menagerie of cats and dogs. (Well, one dog.) And we’re off to my parents’ house soon, too. And I still haven’t caught up on sleep from the weekend. And the heater in my car went out – which will mean a nice Christmas present for the guys at our favorite auto shop, but isn’t so nice for us. So I’m trying to muster up all the festivity I can – and thought perhaps sharing my favorite ornaments with you would help.

This silver teapot came from It’s About Time, a favorite haunt of mine for sweet housewares and fun, funky antiques. I bought Bethany a similar one, and I have several other ornaments on my tree from this shop, both new and vintage. I love this photo because you can see me reflected in the teapot – and also because it represents a beloved ritual of mine, and time spent with friends. (The girls and I love to go there on our occasional Saturday excursions.) And the wooden red-and-white heart in the background came from IKEA, on a “field trip” with some of my beloved coffee ladies in September ’08.

My dear friend Jon bought me this little pottery angel when we went to see The Nutcracker together in Midland, several years ago. I like her curly hair and her open mouth and her crooked wire halo, and I like remembering that evening with one of my favorite people. (Jon and I have been friends since fifth grade, and he’s still one of the most important people in my life.)

MOAS stands for Model Organization of American States, a student diplomatic organization that I participated in my senior year of high school. There’s a national conference in D.C. each year, with teams from across the country representing North, Central and South American nations. We represented the U.S. at that year’s conference, in November 2001 – just two months after 9/11 – and I made these little ornaments as Christmas presents for all my teammates. (In the background there, you can see a few red glass balls – plain, nothing fancy – but some of them are from my parents’ very first Christmas tree, in 1978.)

We visited the Smithsonian on that MOAS trip in ’01, and I saw Dorothy’s real ruby slippers, and picked up this little ornament to bring home with me. I love how it sparkles, and I love remembering that week. We stayed at the State Plaza Hotel in suites with kitchenettes, and grocery shopped at the Safeway in the basement of the Watergate building, and I baked six batches of peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies to fuel our late-night proposal-revision sessions. And we dressed up in business suits and gave presentations, and danced the night away at the convention’s Gala, and toured the Pentagon in the company of an Air Force brigadier general who knew my friend Luke’s grandmother. We walked through Georgetown singing Christmas carols, and shared hundreds of inside jokes, and felt like real grown-ups navigating the big city. The world opened up for us that week, and I’ll never forget it. And this ruby slipper brings a little of that back every year.

I bought this silvered oak leaf ornament (sorry, Blondie, it’s oak, not maple) on that same MOAS trip, during our tour of the National Cathedral. I love the way it catches the light, and it brings that week back, too.

This wee little tree has my smiling face on it – I made it in third grade. It used to hang on the little tree in my room, but it’s migrated, with some other childhood ornaments, to my grown-up house. (The blue ball above it is one of those vintage Christmas balls, from my parents’ first tree. I like the fact that it’s traveled from one happy home to another.)

And finally – what is Christmas without the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll? Jeremiah traveled to a conference in Memphis last year, and brought back this fabulous Elvis ornament. We both love the King and his Blue Christmas album – so this was a perfect addition to our tree.

Merry, merry Christmas to all my blogosphere friends. May it be full of the ones you love, cozy times around the tree or the fire, and true peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.

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