The memory tree

I have friends who decorate their Christmas trees in color schemes, with tasteful white lights and gold ornaments. They’re beautiful. Everything matches.

A lovely tree, but this is not us.

When you walk into their living room, the tree is an exquisite centerpiece, a Christmas tree out of a lifestyle magazine. 

Our trees tend to be…different.

We’ve acquired or made many ornaments over past twenty-five years, and most of them are homey, silly and sentimental. Every time we decorate our tree, we tell the stories of how those ornaments came to be part of our collection.  

Here’s a few of our favorites:

If Joe’s not on the tree, it’s not Christmas.

The Joe Montana ornament. Joe Montana was the legendary quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. We’re not really Niner fans—my husband’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan– but we got the commemorative card free with something and we thought it was funny. We decided to decorate it with red and gold glitter, put a hook on it and immediately put it on our tree. Joe is high priority. We put the tree up, Joe has to be on it or it’s not Christmas.

The Deathstar was made by my oldest son, who was obsessed by Star Wars at the time (still is). There’s also a Chewbacca on our tree.

Fear for your planet. The Deathstar lurks in the tree.

The Deathstar is a clear glass ball from Michael’s craft store. My son filled it with black paint and glitter, then painted the outside with black paint and glitter with several coats AND pointy dollops of glitter paint. It’s so heavy, it bows any branch it’s hung on. I wrap it carefully; if I drop it, it could shatter–or destroy the world.

Guitar Playing Angel – She’s an angel tree topper whose bendy legs wrap around the tip of the Christmas tree as if she were the mom from The Incredibles. Since we’re all musicians in my family, we glued a tiny guitar (actually a ukulele from Hilo Hattie’s in Hawaii) to her arm, so she’s rocking out up there as she announces the good tidings. With two drummers in the family, we also have a little drum kit.

Yep, two drummers in the house.

The glass hummingbird is a new addition to our tree.

My mom loved hummingbirds (and all birds), and our family lived on Hummingbird Road in Pleasanton for years. It’s been two years since she passed, but every Christmas we think of her, because my mom was all about Christmas. She came up with our traditions:  a paper bird that “flew” around the house, appearing somewhere different every morning; braided, decorated loaves to hand out to the neighbors on Christmas morning; and lots of homemade, decorated Christmas cookies.

Christmas can’t help but be a holiday of memories. In our house, the memories are there as we decorate our tree, open presents and then, sadly, on January 1, as we take down the tree.

So what’s on your tree?

Merry Christmas, very late Hannukah, very early Kwanzaa and greetings of the season to you!

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