Turkey Day came early this year, and so did decorating the Christmas tree. I love freeing each ornament from its nest of tissue paper and placing them on two big cookie sheets until I'm ready to start. It's always nostalgic to remember the Christmas holidays of my life. Perhaps my favorites are the wooden ones we brought back from a long-ago trip to Germany. I have ornaments purchased from places we've traveled and some that were gifts from friends. There are pieces we acquired when we married nearly 50 years ago, including straw decorations made in Poland. I even have a few cute ornaments from my elementary school students. One year, I made shapes from the same recipe I use to build gingerbread houses, only thinner. I punched a hole for a ribbon and decorated them with puffy acrylic paints (they still have a faint spicy aroma). There are more than a dozen dachshund ornaments, lots of Santas, and several wine ornaments for Andy.
I sent the girls "their" ornaments years ago. Sigh. Still saving Pete's in case he ever puts up a tree. Every year, I have to repair a few using my trusty hot glue gun. When we lived in Pennsylvania, mice sniffing the aroma of candy chewed up the white felt of the stockings I'd made for the kids when they were little. I sewed through both thicknesses of the felt around each gingerbread man, train, bell, etc. and then stuffed them and added a gold cord for hanging.
Each year, I add a couple new ornaments to replace broken ones. Last year, it was a ceramic pig and mushroom made in Poland sporting the blue and red patterns typical of that country. When the tree is ablaze with lights and all the ornaments have been hung, I sit down and treat myself to reading A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote and enjoy the descriptions of Buddy and his elderly cousin Souk making paper ornaments, stringing popcorn and baking fruitcakes (which I still love, in spite of their bad press).
The best part now is enjoying the excitement of my three grandchildren as they see the ornaments on the tree, my Santa collection and the three candle-powered German pyramids that twirl around with choirs of angels and solemn wise men. One day, I'll pass all these special things on to them for another generation to enjoy. Until then, I'll love every minute of the Christmas season and everything I've collected or made through the years.
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.