Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What is a "Pretty Christmas Tree"

I'll admit, the photo below is of a "Pretty Christmas Tree".  
It looks almost like a present, all by itself.
The tree is perfect. 
Everything is evenly spaced.
There is a theme.
It compliments the surrounding space with the color choices.
It only has 4 or 5 kinds of ornaments.
Martha Stewart would be proud.
If you want this kind of tree,  there are whole websites devoted to perfect trees.
I'll admit, I would LOVE to have this kind of tree.
I'd also LOVE to have someone else put it up and take it down.
I am too much of a perfectionist for this kind of tree.
I can see myself getting all worked up with a tape measure and a ladder,
"The candy canes are too big and the owls are too far apart right here....."
photo credit:
Plus, I would miss the real joy of our Christmas tree.
The joy of memories.
The joy of tacky ornaments.
The joy of ornaments that don't match.
The joy of ornaments with a story.

 These birds were on my tree as a little girl.
So were these angels.

They were also on my mother's tree as a little girl.

Out of 11 siblings, I don't know how she got lucky enough to get them, but she did.
I have spruced them up a little bit.  One of the angels has lost what she was holding, but no matter.

It's funny, when they appear among the other ornaments in the storage bin every year, it's like opening a Christmas present early for me.
I hold them so dear and hope that my children will one day do the same.

 This ornament was likely made by Jenna.
It doesn't have her name on it, but it has all the hallmarks of her work as a little girl.
Would a tree decorator think this deserved a special place (or a place at all) on our tree?
Probably not, but it wouldn't be our tree if it, or other child works of art were missing.

 This dog was given to us by my sister, Nora.
When hanging from the tree, it looks like the dog is flying through and caught a frisbee.
It's handmade.  
It SO fits our love of dogs as family members.  She knew that when she bought it.
She could have bought us a Hallmark dog ornament, but this dog is more her style.
She buys from local artists and so do we.  
His ears and frisbee are so delicately attached--he is wrapped very carefully each January when he goes to spend another year waiting for next Christmas.

 Speaking of Hallmark--this little ornament is one of the first non-WalMart ornaments Eric and I bought together.  
It was a splurge for us.  
Spending $4.50 on one ornament was an outrageous extravagance for us at the time.  
Not sure what prompted us to do it.  Maybe it was a Christmas bonus? 
Maybe it was the cutie little woodchuck and his flickering barrel?  
If you plug the ornament into the light string, his barrel flickers like he has a fire going.  Every
year when we plug him in, I remember buying him and plugging him for the very first time on our first tree as a married couple.

 This ornament was handmade by Eric's aunt Violet, who is no longer with us.
It's all pins and beads and ribbon and plastic.
When we first received it in the mail, I thought, "Uh, wow.....pretty busy ornament".
What did I know then? 
 Obviously, nothing.
Aunt Violet made this with love.  
She took time to make it. 
She made this for us---for Eric and Carla and Preston and Jenna and Quinn Cox.
Many, many years ago, it was banished to the back of the tree.  
Now it holds a place out front for all to see and admire and wonder over.
"Who loved these people enough to make this for them?"
I'm always happy to tell them.

 If you have kids, you know that school pictures are taken every year.  
Often you put one in a frame and toss the rest in a drawer.
At least that's what we do.
Over the years, newer photos are put on top of the older photos until that kindergarten picture of your child is just a distant memory.
Thankfully, elementary school teachers help us remember our children when they were little.
Every year, we received gifts from our kids just like the one you see above of Preston.
They may not always be in a little Christmas tree frame, but there was always something with a photo of our children in it.

Often, these little gifts were a balm to my soul.
I may have taken them out of their storage bin when a particular teenage child was causing me sadness or grief or worry.  

It always helped me remember a simpler time in my life and that the child in question was a "good kid" as Eric would always remind me.
These little ornaments have brought me to tears.
Often tears of joy at what great people my kids have grown up to be.

Then there are the ornaments that bring me joy because friends and family know me SO well.
Who wants donkeys and chickens on their tree?
Well me, of course!
These quirky ornaments and others just like them are gifts from people that know and love me enough to give me bizarre items that they'd never have on their own trees.
Does Eric want a dozen different chickens on our tree?
Probably not, but he knows they bring me joy.

This little donkey is the first donkey on our tree.
He was given to me by a new friend. A dear friend.  Someone who didn't have to be my friend at all, but for our common love of donkeys.
She has a lot going on in her life.  Her husband is fighting a battle with cancer right now.  
She didn't have to buy me an ornament and bring it to my house!
She did it because it brings her joy to share her love with others.
Just for a moment, it takes her mind off the worry cancer has brought into her life.

I bought two packages of "pretty" ornaments this year.  I wanted something new and shiny and designer-like on my tree.
Eric hung most of them on the back of the tree.
He knows me too well.
Our tree is FAR from being a designer tree.  A Martha Stewart tree.
However, our tree is filled with memories of old or memories in the making.

If you see our tree, and see an interesting ornament, ask us about it.  It probably has a story.
A story that will bring us joy to remember and joy to tell.

Do you have any special ornaments on your tree?


  1. Carla,
    Incredible post! Thank you for sharing as I now have a better appreciation of the specialness of our own assortment of ornaments. I must say I would really have loved to see a picture of your tree in all of its wacky glory!

  2. I would love to see a picture of your tree. My own tree sounds very much like yours. Most of my ornaments have a special story to go along with them - my grandmother's ornaments, my Mom's, ones made by my son, grandson, and ones made by friends, gifts from special people, ones purchased from special places I have visited or lived, etc. My tree is a history of my life and now one can ever duplicate that. Thanks for sharing your tree history.

  3. I love your ornaments and the stories about your ornaments! This is a lovely post!


  4. I love this, like really really love this! I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this! My tree is the same. I remember my heart crushing as my mom started decorating a designer tree. It's beautiful but it's not for me. I love each ornament and each story. I actually thought about buying each kid an ornament each year so that when they grow up, they can have a tree decorated in the ornaments that they remember from childhood... I probably still will. I'll buy them after Christmas though, I'm a bargain hunter :)