When I was growing up things were much simpler. My aunt used to send us a special Christmas ornament from Washington State each year. They added up over the years & still bring back lots of childhood memories. When I moved out of the house at 18, even though I was living my own adventure, I really missed the traditional family Christmas, & my first apartment tree just didn’t feel the same. As I traveled around a bit, returning to my parents home for the holidays was always that much more special with the traditional decorations from long ago.
My sister’s first job was in a spa shop that sold beautiful Christmas ornaments during the winter. She let me know when things were marked down, & shared her discount with me, & that year I started my own ornament collection. Since then, no matter how lean times were, I always treated myself to one ornament a year, & now have my own collection of memories. I’m usually pretty minimal with décor, favoring a mid-century modern type aesthetic, maybe that’s why during the holidays I enjoy lots of sparkle.
I remember as a child visiting a beautiful shop full of decorated trees in Laguna Beach with my mother. We sipped spiced cider, & took home a few white shells with holes drilled in them from the beach themed tree. I still have them, & each year I remember that night vividly as I unwrap them & put them on the tree. I love that something so simple can stir up so much emotion.
My niece’s childhoods are very different from mine. They have so much more stuff than I had as a child. I decided early on to give each of them a special ornament each year, with the hope that this simple tradition would build memories for them just like my aunt did for me.
As the economy has dipped, I have found it increasingly more difficult to find those special ornaments. The shops that used to fill with decorated trees & décor are playing it safe, & not stocking much. I miss the festivities. This year I decided to go handmade. They just kind of evolved into these sort of baroque Dr. Suess type things…..
After my longest stay away from California, I returned home to find that my parents were no longer doing Christmas. The festivities had moved over to my sister’s home. For years I felt kind of lost. I spent several wonderful holidays with my (ex) husband’s family, & though the festivities were amazing, full of love, & warmth, I really missed my traditional family Christmas. We lost my father two years ago just before Christmas, which was very difficult for us all, but in a way it has brought our family closer.
Last week I went to visit my mom. My youngest niece now in Jr. High School was with her, & had decided to decorate her house. She put up lots of the old family decorations from my childhood & all those great memories came flooding back. We went over to my sisters house, & she was making the traditional family Christmas cookies with her other daughter. That night while my youngest niece directed us on a tour of the best Christmas lights in her town, she told us that she would go with her mom to deliver plates of cookies to her friend’s houses. Just like my mother did with me & my sister. I feel like our family has come full circle this year. It feels good.