I now have five Christmas trees in my home. They hold the sum total of the ornaments that I have collected over the years. I still use the inexpensive glass globes that my husband and I purchased to brighten the first tree that we bought together after we were married. Since then I’ve added ornament after ornament from gifts, travels, ornament exchanges, craft projects, collections and Hallmark. The decorations fill eight boxes and the branches of the trees of various sizes.
The front room where I compose my blogs hosts the travel tree. I make it a point to purchase an ornament wherever I visit. I have a good story for every tiny treasure that hangs on the branches of a tree that has seen better years but still does the job of displaying my pretties quite nicely. Sometimes I think it may be my favorite because vacations are always filled with joy and adventure. Seeing other places and learning about other people is fascinating and eye opening.
Then there is my collection tree which holds elegant ornaments of greater expense that I purchased one at a time over a series of decades. Some of them were also gifts from friends that marked special occasions.These delicate treasures hang on a tinier tree that fits snugly into the corner of my dining room. They are as lovely as the china that once belonged to my mother which is on display near them. The tree I place them on lost its lights years ago so I have to place strings of illumination in the old fashioned way. Until the ornaments are hanging it is a sad little sight indeed but the finished product is a glorious transformation. In the midst of all the beauty there is a strange little ornament that may seem out of place. It is a plastic angel that was once sprayed with silver paint that has mostly worn away. It is not particularly nice in any sense, but it is one of my favorites because it once hung from my Grandma Ulrich’s tree each Christmas Eve. After she died I saw it tossed aside with things that nobody wanted and I saved it to sit in glory surrounded by new loveliness each year.
I placed another tree atop a table so that it shines forth from my upstairs window. I call it my Charlie Brown Tree. It is was on sale one year and once had lots of shiny lights, but now it too requires old fashioned strings put on by hand to be illuminated. The ornaments that adorn it are old and unmatched and sometimes seem to be someone’s cast offs, but they too have lovely stories. Some are made from the hands of children, both my daughters and my former students. Some are a bit broken but I have repaired them. Altogether they brighten the window and the room. They often make me smile because like all of the other ornaments they have special stories that would fill a book.
This year I added a tiny “pig tree” to hold all of the “lucky pigs” that I have collected since 2005. I learned on a trip to Austria that pigs are considered to bring good luck in the New Year so I began to find and purchase little piggies of every sort wherever I went. At first I stored them in displays around my home but I grew weary of the clutter so I transformed them all into ornaments and gave them a spot on my desk with a tiny tree dedicated on to them. It is absolutely precious and I’m delighted with how happy it makes me feel.
The big tree in my great room is the one I designed for my grandchildren. It holds countless Hallmark ornaments that whiz and whir and makes sounds. It features photos of family members and friends. There are odes to Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse and Snoopy. It glitters with crystal snowflakes from Swarovski and holds favorite surprises like a homemade ornament with photos of a dear friend’s children and one of our departed pets, Red. It’s a fun tree while also being the most beautiful of them all. It entertains us with a Harry Potter sorting hat and songs from DisneyWorld. My grandchildren are older now, but they still come in to inspect the old ornaments and search for the new ones. This year I’ve added Oscar the Grouch for the first time and found that I just can’t seem to get enough of Snoopy or Mickey.
It takes days to erect and decorate all of the trees but I’ve learned to start early and pace myself so that I don’t get exhausted. Nobody would be stunned by the beauty of my trees but they represent a physical story of my life, a tangible way of knowing about my family and its personality.
I have to admit that my favorite ornaments are the ones that are homemade along with that plastic angel that once belonged to my grandmother. I have a sentimental cry every single year when I place them on one of my trees. I love the deeply wonderful memories associated with them. My Christmas trees make me happy because they “talk” to me about my many blessings over the years. I could gaze at them forever.