I am feeling a little better now. I even got the Christmas tree skirt spread out smoothly. Lance did a pretty good job putting that under the tree but it was bothering me. I will even admit that the ornaments started bothering me and the OCD started to kick in just enough for me to move some of them around. The kids knew I would do it, but they were amazed that it took as long as it did. In all fairness I did not move many. I have either taught them well, or they have just learned to not put the ornaments where they know it will bother me. Either way I did not move many. I really only moved the ornaments that I needed to move to make room for some of the larger ornaments that still needed to go on the tree that had not made it there yet. So I left most of them where they hung. The children did well. There are just some ornaments that are bigger and heavier that require a bit more space or some of the larger branches so some ornaments got demoted or moved to smaller branches. It was not personal. I even found a few more burnt out bulbs and replaced those while I was at it. All in all, I am glad it is done. It cheered me up a lot.
I have to confess that while I was working on the tree, the Sister Missionaries stopped by for a quick visit. They were trying to schedule an appointment to come back to share a Christmas Message with the family. They were oohing and awing over the tree. The truth is that it is a beautiful tree. It is not beautiful because it has all these big beautiful ornaments on it. It is not beautiful because it is a big beautiful tree. It is beautiful because it is full of beautiful because it has warm, loving and beautiful memories all over it. They said they had not seen any trees like it and they had seen a lot of trees. They pointed out how it was special, and to me it is special.
There are memories on that tree. My boys have reminded me of that this year and that really helped me understand why it means so much for me every year to get that tree up right after Christmas. There are so many memories for me this time of year. Each and every one of those memories is special. The kids might mumble and grumble about me moving the ornaments, but they live through it. They even tease me about it, but it is something they remember. I never want them to remember that their ornaments were not special…no matter how ugly or insignificant. Each one is special.
See every little thing is important when it comes to Christmas for me…even that teddy bear on the right in the picture above. See my best friend gave me that teddy bear. That is my Margaret Bear and though it only comes out at Christmas time, it is there every year. I think of her every year and how important it is to remember how she loved to give small little gifts. She knew that I collected bears and that was one of the last gifts she gave me when we were still in college. Now it adorns my fireplace every year and brings joy to my children. They remember Margaret too.
So I am going to share a little bit about my tree with you and why it is special…the Sister Missionaries sensed it…and I knew it, though they had to remind me why it is such a big deal. Why every ornament is placed with care every year. Why today I feel better and am much happier.
Lance remembered his Gingerbread Man. He did that one last year. There are two of them that size. He did the other one the year before. Maybe I have the years backwards. He remembers, that is what is important. They are big. He keeps repositioning them on the tree. I think I have a natural tree OCD child on my hands. I keep moving them back into the tree so they do not fall off and he keeps putting them closer to the front of the tree so they can be seen. I think I have him so the lights shine on him now and he is happy with that.
To the left there is the green bulb shaped ornament with his picture on it. It was when he dressed up complete with a tie to take his school picture. He insisted. It has the year on it. I think I have decided that I need to laminate some of these paper ornaments so they will last a little longer. His elf is showing its wear and tear.
The the left of that is the Santa that is nothing special, but he painted it the first year he was a Cub Scout. It was just one of those paint by water things one of the leaders picked up real cheap somewhere. It was also one of the first activities I went to right after being called as a new Den Leader for the Pack.
In front of the Gingerbread Man are the snowflakes that I hand crocheted. After putting the rest of the ornaments on the tree this year, I was reminded again that I really need to make some more of these crocheted snowflakes.
Also in front of the Gingerbread Man are the quilted looking balls which have such special meaning to me. My maternal grandmother made those in all different sizes. I made these to replicate the ones my mother has that Grandma gave her all those years ago. They make me smile any time I think about them. Grandma made some of the coolest Christmas decorations. This was something that I remember about her and I often think that Grandma is smiling all around when she sees these things on my own tree. I can almost feel her warm hugs even though she has been gone for 23 years now. Oh how I miss her warm hugs.
Here you will see that a beautiful tree is not a perfectly matched array of ornaments. It is not all about the ribbons, balls, and lights. A beautiful tree is a mismatch of memories that makes up our lives. It is the fabric that makes us who we are and the glue that holds us together.
My kids saw the ornament that Andrew got at a Primary Activity in 2001 when we were still in the Parkway Ward of our beloved Prophet that reads “Follow the Prophet.” I believe it was Andrew that mentioned last year that we should have one of President Monson on the tree. Kyle said, we have one of President Hinkley, we should have one of President Monson because he’s the Prophet now. Little did he know that I had listened to Andrew last year, I had gone and bought a similar sized picture of President Monson. I guess this year I am putting our living Prophet on our tree. I need to find some paint! I guess I should do that today!
Of course there are more of Grandma’s Quilted Balls. I love those things. I do not think I have enough. They make me happy. They bring back so many memories. I think I will try to do some more of the different ornaments she made over the next year. I need to shop the after Christmas sales for supplies.
You will see the Bob the Builder ornament. Andrew and Kyle were into Bob the Builder. There might even be one on there with Lance’s name. I cannot remember to be real honest with you. There are so many ornaments with their names on them.
I try to buy them at least one every year that represents something they did or accomplished that year. It does not always happen that way, but I try. Sometimes I would just buy them an ornament that I really liked. If anyone finds a shark ornament, I am looking for one.
In the top left you will see the bottom of a Royal Guard from the trip that Ben and I took to London. We got those little ornaments for the boys. There is a Royal Guard, a Double Decker Bus, and a British Cab. The boys love them!
In the top right, behind President Hinkley’s picture you can see a part of one of Ben’s childhood ornaments – Raggedy Andy. I believe that one was painted by his mother, Georgann. I love it! Why? Because of the memories associated with it. It does not have to be perfect, it has to have memories.
At the bottom, you will see the top of the back of our Aggie Snowman. Nothing special or spectacular there. Ben graduated from Texas A&M. We lived in College Station and Bryan. Kyle was born in College Station. We keep a little piece of Aggieland with us on our Christmas tree.
On the left side, you will see two clear stars (there is one on the right side as well) and the candy cane. I LOVE these! Why? Because my children loved them. I found them several years ago and they were relatively cheap on sale. My children loved that I would let them put them on the tree. They reflect the lights and they are safe for the kids. I did not have to worry about them getting dropped or broken. If one got damaged, it was okay, I just went and bought more. I have thought about engraving words on the stars. Maybe one year I will and see if the kids notice now that they are older.
As you can see more of a mismatch but more memories.
Kyle remembered making the ornament at the bottom in the middle. He was so excited about it when he saw it. That brought a smile to my face.
To the left of that ornament is another one of Ben’s childhood ornaments. You would not believe how many times my children have stood at the tree trying to read that little book. They do not do it as much anymore.
Just above that is one of the older boys’ Gingerbread Men. I made that at a Relief Society Activity. It was probably one of the Super Saturday Activities. There are two of them on the tree so I do not know which one it is, I am sure their name is on the back of it.
Above that to just the left is a Chinese Lantern that Kyle made one year in school. It goes on the tree every year. It is not perfect and it is not glamorous but he learned about Christmas traditions around the world that year and so we put our Chinese Lantern on our tree because he remembers when he made it.
To the right of that is the Coca Cola Bear we picked up at the Coca Cola Museum when we went to Atlanta, Georgia last year to visit Ben’s sister, Amber and her family. We went after Christmas but we still picked up a few things for Christmas.
To the right of that is one of the Angels my little sister, Jennifer, got me for Christmas one year. There is another one in the bottom right of the picture. There are 4 of them in the set. I love them. I have since found 4 more that are similar to that. There are also a couple of other ornaments that also match. If you look back over by the wooden Gingerbread Man you can see one of those ornaments. These are delicate and I worry that they will get broken every year, but somehow we manage to pull them out of the box intact.
In the very bottom right corner is an ornament that Lance made. I believe he made that at a Primary Activity.
If you look just in front of it, you can see a ball with a label hanging down from it. That is a label that has a little saying about “snowmen.” These are not ordinary snowmen. This is a ball that Lance made at school, in Kindergarten or First Grade, I believe. They had the kids put their hand in white paint and then wrap their hand around the ball. It left their hand print on the ball. They then decorated each finger (and thumb) as a little snowman. This ornament made the tears well up in my eyes this year when I looked at it. Oh how my littlest boy has grown!
To the left of that is one of my Teddy Bears. I do not have many teddy bears around my house any more, but I can put them on my Christmas tree and no one can say anything. See I can have a Christmas decoration fetish and collect teddy bears all at the same time. It is a win-win as far as I am concerned.
And here are some of the bigger ornaments…proof that you can freeze time, perhaps. Each year we freeze it on the tree. You trap your memories in each little memory, if only for a moment. You do not know what your children will remember.
The clock is from our trip to London. That is a special trip and a special time. We will go back some day, but for now it gets a special place on our tree. The Royal Guards are from Ben’s childhood ornaments. See…bringing memories together…
The snowflake above the Yeoman of the Guard on the right (and over to the left a bit) is something that kind of struck me as odd this year. Grandma sent those to the kids last year. Each one has one with their name engraved on it. Each one had something to say about it this year. Lance was worried that it was not shiny and super silver. I had to tell him that silver tarnishes with time. Kyle said that he liked his better now that it had changed color. Andrew just said that he really liked his snowflake. You did good Grandma “Tony.” You did good.
To the left on the bottom is a pewter snowman that has one of the kid’s name engraved on it. It is not one that I bought them. They still enjoy looking at some of these ornaments and they can tell me when they got them.
I still need to go out and find them ornaments for this year. I actually need to buy them last year’s ornaments too as I never found them ones for last year. Ornaments that I need to find: viola, cello, another black belt, cub scout, boy scout, bike, car, shark, penguin, frog, the list can go on and on. There are so many possibilities that can mean so much to the boys. The boys would be happy if I just got them all Doctor Who ornaments this year and called it a day.