Monday, January 10, 2011


Last week I wrote about taking down my tree and all of the memories that it brought back. So, I'd like to share a few of my favorite ornaments and what I love about them.

Every year I get an ornament for the tree that has the date somewhere on it. Fortunately, Hallmark and various other stores sell tons of dated ornaments, so the hard part is usually picking out just one. This year, my mom and I baked like maniacs for 3 days straight, so this ornament seemed most appropriate.

I just love the teeny tiny pastry bag with "2010" on it!

Another addition to the tree this year was this tiny copper skillet. I told J that I bought it to commemorate my going back to work at Williams-Sonoma, but the truth is that I just couldn't resist the cuteness of an actual skillet that was so small.

Last Christmas, I volunteered to teach the kids in Embry's class how to make a few basic origami forms. After they mastered the basics I taught them how to how to make this candy cane. Embry became totally obsessed with making these and completely covered our Christmas tree with paper candy canes. When putting away the tree last year I threw these in with the other decorations, and when I took them out this year, Embry was thrilled to put them on our tree again.

Another contribution from Embry is this beautiful glass ornament that I use as our dated one for last year. A student at Embry's school has parents who are glass artists, and as a special treat, they allowed any student who wanted, to blow their own glass ornament! The kids picked their colors and blew into a long tube to form the hollow glass ball. I'm so glad that we let Embry make one. You can't see in this picture, but it has her name and the date engraved on the top.

Some of our dated ornaments signify an important event that occurred that year. For example, Embry and Matthew each have their own ornament for the year they were born. This one is dated 2003 and was picked out to celebrate mine and J's first Christmas after we got married. (You can tell I really like ornaments with tiny food on them). Little champagne glasses and little chocolate covered strawberries. So cute!

This next one takes tiny cuteness to a whole new level! On the outside it appears to be a simple painted matchbox. But when you open it up...'s actually a tiny nativity scene! I left my hand in the frame on purpose to show how adorably small this one is. The characters inside are three dimensional figurines painted with amazing detail. My brother gave this one to me several years ago, and it is still one of my favorites.

This one was given to me this year by my Mom. There's no date on it, but I do specifically remember making it when I was little. I love that stuff like this has survived. Both of the kids were so fascinated by the idea that I was once small and made stuff like that.

Although it doesn't go on the tree, this next decoration is one of my most precious. It's an angel that was given to me by a little girl who lived down the street from me when I was about 5 or 6 years old. At the time, we lived in the middle of nowhere and I didn't have a lot of playmates. I have no idea what happened to her (we moved away the next year), but I have always loved this angel and I put it out every year.

Finally, this red plastic bell came into my possession earlier this year. It belonged to my great-grandmother. There were bells of several different colors and each one bore the name of a great-grandchild (my cousins).

The bells were hung on the Christmas tree at my grandparent's house every year, even long after my great-grandmother passed away. One of my fondest childhood memories was of my brother and I arriving at Grandma's house on Christmas morning and finding our bells on the tree. We would always argue over who's bell was in the most optimum position. Higher on the tree and more towards the front obviously meant that Grandma loved me more.

*Notice the red bell near the top... that one is mine ;)

These are just a few of my favorites. Almost every ornament that goes on the tree has a memory or a person associated with it. That must be why I cherish so much putting up the tree every year, and why it makes me sad to take it down. Maybe some day, when I'm rich and I live in a big fancy house (that someone else cleans), I'll have a second "Martha Stewart" tree that gets all of the color coordinated bows and ornaments in concentric circles. But for now, I am very content with my hodgepodge tree full of memories.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Clean-Up

Two days ago, I took down my Christmas tree and I cried. Not only because it was my baby boy's first day of school and I was missing him like crazy. Not only because I had eaten the last of my Christmas pannetoni, or that I had the last season of M.A.S.H. playing in the background. I was sad that Christmas was officially over. And as I lovingly packed away ornaments and decorations I was reminded of the Christmases of my childhood.

You see, this year I had some new ornaments on my tree. After my grandpa passed away last year I acquired a few things that once belonged to my grandparents, or my mother when she was little. Among those things were a few Christmas ornaments. I was thrilled to have them in my own family's home and part of our Christmas. But, as I was packing them away for next year, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the realization that I will never again spend Christmas morning at my grandparents home as I had every year growing up.

It has, of course, been several years since I have been "home" for Christmas. Since I've had children of my own, we have spent Christmas here at our house with both my family and my husband's family. I look forward to Christmas for months and I love having everyone here together. We had a great time laughing, baking, eating, exchanging gifts, and playing games. Together we enjoyed old traditions and created new ones that I hope my children will look forward to for years to come.

I realized on Monday that the door has closed forever on a part of my life that I remember very fondly. Luckily, I have lots of pictures to help me keep those memories alive.