Harking back to my earlier post, luckily for the sake of the attic in the family home, about the time we had restocked the family ornament collection was right around the time my sister and I moved into our own apartments—and, even though we still went home for Christmas at first, we put up our own Christmas trees.
There’s something odd—both exciting and bittersweet—about dividing up the ornaments for fresh starts. We had always had “our” ornaments. Our ‘first’ ones were little brass angels with a bell and our names on them that our “new” neighbor had given me and my sister the first Christmas we moved back to the U.S. from Germany. We developed favorites over the years—a little girl on a rocking horse, a special one from a grandparent. We always put our special ornaments on the tree ourselves. Now, they moved to our homes to be the first ones up on ‘our’ trees. There were others—ones we had gotten in the recent years of restocking, earlier ones that friends had given us. I was a bit startled when Mom gave us each some of the ones we had made as kids. And there were a few that we wheedled out of Mom and Dad from the ‘family’ stock that had been favorites, but not many of those.
One of the cool things about striking out as a young adult was the realization that I needed a lot of ornaments to fill the tree. And Mom and Dad didn’t have any say at all in what I did. I found a string of glass beads that had a Victorian look. A roll of ribbon with wired edges to weave through the branches. A friend who knew I loved tall ships found a set of clipper ships for me one year. I found strands of dark blue lights that gave a mysterious gleam to the tree.
And, for the first time ever, I was able to indulge some of my whimsical likes. A friend has given me some of the light-up Star Trek and Star Wars ships that plug into the light string. In the ’90s, suddenly one could find dragons and unicorns as ornament themes. A business trip to Cape Cod netted me some darling mermaids and glitter covered shells that look far better than they sound.
When I got married, my husband’s childhood ornaments got added, along with new themes—we now sport a set of dwarves, Dilbert/Dogbert lights, a selection of Civil War related ornaments, and a fair bit of armor and castles. He also brought along ornaments from a number of historical sites and houses.
When the kids were born, I found a darling set of blue and pink glass pacifiers that are darling as their “first ornaments”. The kids are adding their own—literally, as we now have our own collection of hand-made ornaments from daycare and school. And ones they’ve gotten as gifts from family and friends. And their own preferred ‘themes’—Baloo from Jungle Book for my daughter, and anything StarWars or Superhero for my son. She does puppies, he does elephants or turtles. They’ve each identified ‘their’ special ornaments from the family collection…
And the tradition continues.
But until they move out, we’re going to need a bigger tree.