Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Traditions

Every Christmas while my children were growing up, we created ornaments together.  Sometimes the children made ornaments in school, in the lower elementary grades, and sometimes I purchased ornaments, as well.  Each child got one or more ornaments each year decorating their gifts, and by the time they were grown, they had accumulated an assortment of ornaments to decorate their own Christmas tree.  When I decorate my tree, Christmas music is playing softly, usually harps and/or flutes, which I love.  And as I carefully pick each ornament out of the box and hang it, I am reminded of the person that gave it to me.  There is a sequin-embroidered owl that Bertha made, a quartet of little musicians from Switzerland, bought by Merle and Bertha on one of their trips many years ago.  There is a macramé mouse that Ann made, a bird perched on a feeder with bird seed inside that Elaine made, and crocheted snowflakes and prettily starched bells from Dawn, all purchased at our church bazaars. There are jointed porcelain teddy bears, Santas, and carousel horses, a roly-poly blue velour teddy bear that my sister, Doreen, made, and a stuffed cross from my sister, Sherri.  There are ornaments my grandchildren have chosen for me... a blown glass penguin from Quentin, because we enjoyed watching Happy Feet together, and a beautiful blown glass angel from Ava.  There is an angel made of shells from Donavon and Alyssa, purchased when they went to Hawaii.  There is an assortment of angels gifted to me by friends, many of whom are no longer alive.  Decorating my tree is an emotional experience, and I often weep as I remember the loved ones who once were such an important part of my life. 
The Christmas decorating has become too difficult for me to do alone now, and my granddaughters, Laenie and Maddie, come to help.  Laenie has decorated my tree with me the last couple of years, and she loves the ornaments and hears their stories as we pull them out.  She has asked if she can inherit my ornaments someday, and it warms my heart that they are that meaningful to her.  This year, Maddie did it by herself, but she enjoyed looking at each one and hearing their story.  The ornament Donavon made when he was in kindergarten
with his photo glued onto a fluted gold-colored ash tray hangs next to the photo ornament his son made me several years ago, when he was about the same age.  This year, we added a blue ball with “reindeer” thumb prints Griffin made, a pine cone skier made by Gabriella, and a “Santa” handprint from my one-year-old great-granddaughter, Leola.  These ornaments are all precious gifts, and treasured above anything they could buy me.  Everyone got a stocking snowman ornament from me this year, which I blogged about last time. 
Perhaps someday when they are decorating their trees, my family will select the ornaments I made them, one by one, and remember the warmth of Christmases past.  Many times when my children were small, we had little in the way of material gifts, but there was always an abundance of love, and that is what Christmas is all about… the greatest gift.  This year, I requested no gifts… it’s stressful to buy for someone who buys what they need for themselves.  Instead, I told them the most valuable gift they can give me is their time. 

The day after Christmas, Donavon mowed my lawn with a bagging mower, and Griffin and Maddie bagged the leaves.  It’s a good thing we had warm weather then, in the 50s and 60s… today I woke up to 35 degrees and about 4” of snow on the ground.  The weatherman tells us we will drop to single digits in the next week.  Hopefully that cold weather will not last long! 
I wish for you a wonderful year, filled with the thrill of new experiences and the ability to see and appreciate the world we live in with a child’s sense of wonder.  Happy 2014!