Whether you have a dozen or just one humble Charlie Brown Christmas tree, everyone recognizes the iconic evergreen dressed with lights and ornaments. The idea of a Christmas Tree originated in Germany and was often decorated with candles, tinsel, candy canes, and was topped off with an angel or a star. Now every year millions of Christmas tree are cut down and find themselves as a center piece in a yearly tradition for families all over the world. Often time Christmas trees are either decorated in a theme or with a story board of ornaments collected over the years.
When my wife and I got married, I had never met anyone that was so enthusiastic about decorating a Christmas tree. Growing up decorating the tree was fun but often became more of a chore rather than a joy. As a kid I would put up my favorite ornaments because they were cool, fun or just traditional. Decorating a tree with my wife I quickly began to realize that ornaments just aren’t objects but hold a story and a memory. I started to remember why some of these ornaments were my favorite. Every year this simple clothes pin reindeer brings a smile to her face. See this just isn’t another ornament this is HER reindeer that she made when she was five. It takes her back to a moment when Christmas was exciting. Every year for a small moment she is transported away from the stresses of adulthood and back to the carefree enthusiasm of Christmas.
So i started thinking….what do my favorite ornaments mean to me? I decided to slow down and really think about the ornaments that go up on our tree rather than just throwing them on the tree. I sit back now and look at our tree and see a story of two lives that have come together to form one. This Ronald McDonald has been on the tree every year since I can remember. He actually represents the Ronald McDonald house, a place I remember stay several times when my sister would be in the hospital. So I guess you could really say that he is representative of Emily. He takes me back to a time I remember my sister scooting over to the tree pulling off ornaments and seeing how they tasted. Or maybe the times she would just roll under the tree and just stare up through the twinkling branches. She never spoke a word but there is no doubt that her imagination would run wild as the flashes of Christmas light danced in her eyes. We have several stars on our tree. These were all made my mom, which always seemed to be impossible to figure out. They aren’t shiny or big, but they represent a relationship that has been bigger than life and a foundation that has never crumbled during difficult times in my life. She is also the one that I decorated the tree with every year. Thinking about it now, she was the author of the Christmas tradition I grew up with. White lights on the tree, white light candles in the windows, and homemade Christmas cookies. Growing up she was like Mrs. Christmas and I was a Christmas elf decking the Crockett halls so to speak.
Christy and I both have ornaments that represent places we’ve been and loved. For her, she has a small hand made saddle from Honduras. She went on a medical mission trip to help needy villages that were desperate for health care. I really think it was a turning point in her medical career. She loved helping the kids in the village. She would tell me stories of the appreciation the kids would show whether it was with a hug or a humbled smile. She has had a place in her heart for helping kids ever since. She can’t wait to have the opportunity to go on another missions trip and I can’t wait to accompany her. I grew up a beach kid from the coast of North Carolina. I always spent my summers working at a movie theater at night and wave riding during the morning. When it was time for me to continue my education at Grad school I chose West Virginia University. This beach kid found himself becoming a good ole country boy the two years I was there. I had experiences there I’ll never forget and made friends that will always be in my corner. To this day I am still a die WVU football fan and still keep in touch with many of the people that I had the honor of meeting while I was there. This next ornament represents a part of our lives that at first brought more stress than love but neither one of us can imagine our days with out him. Niko is our chocolate Lab, he is almost 4 which means he is really just a full grown puppy. We got Niko the March after we were married, and between both our work schedules at the time and the wonderful challenges of a puppy there were often more arguments the joyful times concerning Niko. Today Niko is always a bright spot in our day, just like any dog he never has a “bad” so he thinks we shouldn’t either. He is always at the door when we get home and always has more than enough “kisses” to go around. The funny thing is that my mom gave this ornament to us for her “grandpuppy” last year and it will always be a staple ornament on the tree.
This last ornament might be the most important and the most meaningful one. I had it made for Christy and I for one of the first Christmas’s we spent together. The Crhistmas of 2000 was my first Christmas in college and she was still in high school. Who would have know that seven years later we would be married. This ornament represents a soul mate that I get to start Christmas traditions with. A representation that after 11 years of ups and downs, road blocks and rocky bottoms, that there is only one person I want to decorate a tree with. A smile always sneaks across my face because for many years to come the weekend after Thanksgiving will be filled with Christmas music and Christmas tree decorating.
So when putting up your Christmas tree this year take the time to think about the story your tree tells each year. Never let putting up your Christmas tree become a chore let it traditionally be a time of passing down stories to your children, sharing memories with your loved one, and an opportunity to add new chapters to the story your Christmas tree will tell each year.