What happens when…?

The kids have asked on more than one occasion why I do not have my ornaments on the Christmas tree. We have dad’s ornaments, why do we not have mom’s? It is a fair question. I make a big deal of making sure there is a new ornament for each of them every year. We have acquired new “family” ornaments on occasion. Still there is some confusion left about the presence of my ornaments.

The answer to the question is actually a really simple one. Most of my ornaments are still on my mom’s tree every year. Since my mom lives about 3-5 miles from here, we can see those ornaments at any time. I do have a couple of ornaments of mine on the tree. It is not like the tree is completely devoid of my childhood ornaments. It is not. In fact, there are ornaments on the tree that I have manufactured to replicate those that very much are memories of my childhood and so for me, there are lot of my ornaments on the tree. They are just not the same as what the children expect. They are not old. They were made by me in their lifetimes.

That made me really think about memories from our childhoods and how they are reflected as a whole and how we reflect on some of those memories at Christmas time. That is what these ornaments do, they remind us of those memories that they represent. So my musings became, what happens when we remove all those childhood memories from the tree? How do they affect the overall, big picture? How do they factor in?

Here is the picture of my three boys’ collective ornaments. There is a box for each of them. There were a few on the chair I had not gotten into the boxes yet because they will get wrapped (glass balls) and go inside another box or because I did not remember exactly who they belonged to because they were not labeled. I need to make sure I get their names on them this year before I put them away again.

The boxes go from left to right, Andrew, Kyle, and Lance. Obviously Andrew’s box is fuller than Kyle’s box, and Kyle’s box is fuller than Lance’s box. That is a result of age and simply having longer to collect or make more. I have not bought all of these. Some of them were bought by family members or family friends. Some were made by me. Some were made by the kids themselves at church or school. Some have no significant value or importance except that it was the ornament that was picked that year. Others represent something that they did that year.

Obviously, three little boxes can contain quite a bit in the way of ornaments if the ornaments are not big. Think about it. Some of these ornaments are paper gingerbread men or flat ornaments with their pictures in it from the year. They do not take up a lot of space in the shoebox sized plastic box. What kind of impact do these three little boxes of ornaments have on the overall picture of my Christmas tree every year? How much do these three little boxes affect the memories that we reflect upon every year? How much do those three little boxes matter?

I was shocked. There were big holes in my tree. The boys put each of their ornaments on the tree and I had moved very many of the ornaments. That is the beauty of having children that have learned to accept that I am OCD when it comes to the ornaments on the tree and that have grown enough to actually decorate more than the bottom two feet of the tree. There were holes. There were places where ornaments were missing completely.

The true tale of how much a lifetime of memories makes the biggest impact is when I removed my husband’s childhood ornaments. The tree was truly missing its dressing when those ornaments came off the tree. It was not that my tree did not have ornaments on it, it just was missing the ornaments that made it what it complete. Those memories that we pick carefully every year (or even not so carefully) make a big impact on the overall picture. It was a gentle reminder that maybe I was not crazy for wanting to find something special every year after all. They do have a big impact on the overall picture every year. Each one adds a little bit more to the history that makes each story we tell at Christmas for the many years to come a little bit more unique.

Yes, there were still candy canes, snow flakes, stars, and various other ornaments on the tree but it was not the same. The ornament that represented the year when Andrew got his first black belt was gone. The wooden gingerbread men that struck jealousy in Lance (he wants one) this year were gone. The tree felt empty and cold. There was nothing there to welcome me to sit beside it and stay a little while and wonder what stories I would hear that year. Which story would my children remember and remind me about this year?

I am in no hurry to remove my childhood ornaments from my mother’s Christmas tree. It strikes memories of its own when I see them there. The tree may be different. The house may be different. The ornaments are the same and that’s what stirs those sleeping pieces of history that warm our hearts year after year. My children will enjoy those ornaments themselves, but for now they will do it at Grandma’s house.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.