After 39 years of marriage, I have collected so many ornaments. Some have broken, some have been retired, and each year I still add at least one new one. We have a pickle ornament, my sister-in-law said it was a German tradition and being married to a Gruver I though it appropriate. I always have a birds nest or two sitting on a branch for good luck. So far our cat hasn't noticed them. I have a set of four stocking hats and stockings from a friend at work who has a knitting machine and was so kind to give them as a gift one year. I like the old fashioned looking ornaments. They remind me of my family tree when I was a child. One of my traditions is to put candy canes on the tree for guests to snatch. When the kids were little we opened presents Christmas morning but now that they are adults and Jenny is married and we have to share her with her in-laws, we have started opening presents Christmas Eve around the tree. It is the one day of the year that we actually use our formal living room.
When I look back over my 50 plus years it seems like so much has changed. Christmas used to be a fresh cut tree with few presents. Back then, fresh cut trees were the only kind. What we lacked in presents was more than made up with family. I am the youngest of six siblings. Three of them were married and had kids of their own by the time I was born. My mom and sisters were all great cooks and we feasted on all the sweets we wanted for that one day.
A few years later in the 60's my mom bought one of those aluminum trees with a color wheel. I remember sitting in the living room watching it change from green to blue, to red, to orange, over and over. I was probably 9 or 10. Mom must have been going through a phase. I don't know what she was thinking with that tree. I was so disappointed. It just didn't feel like Christmas. Of course we couldn't tell her we were disappointed because we knew she meant well. Luckily that tree only made it through one Christmas. It was also the year I got go-go boots. I loved them.
The one good thing about the artificial tree is that I figured out why I always suffered with a cold at Christmas. I was allergic to the natural trees. Eventually when I was a teenager, we did buy an artificial tree but it was one that looked more real, at least as realistic as the ones that came out in the late 60's or early 70's could and my Christmas cold disappeared.
My mother passed away when I was 29. Looking back when we were going through her things, I never even thought about her Christmas ornaments. I have no idea where they went. They weren't valuable except for my memories of them. Now I would love to have them for my tree.
Yes, things have changed, the artificial trees do look more natural and you can get them with lights so no more untangling but one thing remains the same. Christmas memories don't come from the gifts under the tree, they come from time spent together with family and friends.
Our tree reflects our life together before, during, and after children over the past 39 years. Our tree is a three dimensional scrap book of memories. Memories shared with family.
Check out my writer's blog - Adventures in Writing at VirginiaGruver.com I update often with author interviews and posts about writing. Follow me as I write a novel and feel free to share your experience.