Christmas trees are the best!
No seriously. I really love Christmas trees! They light up your living room in such a magical way. Every morning that you wake up after the tree is all lit and decorated just feels more special than before. Saying good bye to your tree at the end of the season is like saying good bye to a friend moving away.
Until next time sweet tree…
Once you become a parent, the whole idea of the Christmas tree kind of shifts. Before, it’s about being all fancy and Pottery Barn pretty. After, it becomes a game of making sure your sweet one-year-old doesn’t pull the tree onto themselves or eat a pinecone. And of course you have the sweetest little “helpers” that love to touch, play and hang 15 ornaments on one limb. Oh, and if you have kids under the age of 5, I bet the bottom of your tree looks just as awesome as mine!
There’s also the constant stream of ornaments that start popping up. From adorable homemade picture ornaments, to crafted ornaments made in pre-school and Sunday school. The question of course…
Do these lovely handmade, homemade, finger print laden, scribbled-on ornaments have a forever home on your beautiful, pre-kid “fancy” tree?
While I’ve never been an organized person, I’ve always cherished ornaments. If you give me an ornament as a gift, I keep it. If my kid makes an ornament at school, I hang it. I save EVERYTHING that even remotely could be considered an ornament. As a child and on into adulthood, our family tree was such a special part of our Christmas tradition. Ornaments from friends at school and church. Ornaments from my parent’s childhood. Total menagerie of stuff on the tree, each with meaning and sentiment.
When I started in on this year’s tree at my own house, I began with a box that was labeled “FRAGILE.” My assumption of course, was it would include all my fragile breakable ornaments from year’s past. Once opened, the first thing I saw were two hands cut out of construction paper from my daughter’s last pre-school Thanksgiving feast. In 2015 my four year old was thankful for…
“Turkey” and “Ham”
I didn’t remember saving it last year, but so glad I did! Next up were some homemade foam and felt ornaments that the girls had made the last couple of years. As I uncovered another layer of my fragile box of ornaments, I discovered more little treasures. Yes, my actual, breakable ornaments were inside, but there were so many little precious memories too. I gave my 2015 self a pat on the back for saving those things.
A couple of days ago I was talking with my friend who has several trees set up in her house. She has one tree that doesn’t have a color or design thematic. Just a collection of all of the mismatched ornaments you receive or have crafted over the years. She told me it was her “junk tree.” We kept talking and then she corrected herself, “well, actually, it’s our memory tree.” Yes! I LOVE that. Because in all honesty, those sweet little creations are the most precious of memories. Memories that can make their appearance year after year and become more precious as they age.
Now, I need to say this. I realize that many of us have beautifully themed trees and the creativity and inspiration that goes into those trees is also meaningful.
So to you, my friends with perfectly designed trees, I invite you to create a memory tree too!
Here are some tips for starting out:
COLLECT THE PRESENT – Save the little memories throughout the year. Perfect items for the tree are photo-collages or crafts created in pre-school. Ornament kits for kids like these are so much fun!
BRING BACK THE PAST – The next time you’re home with your parent(s), dig through their stash of ornaments. Bring a few home that have special meaning. The stories and connection to the past will have a lasting effect on your little ones each year! I truly cherish the hand-made crochet ornaments that my grandmother made in the sixties. Or the ornaments given to me by classmates when I was elementary school. Each year is like a glimpse into the past that warms your heart and gets you in the spirit!
THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE – At the end of the Christmas season, take a look at the pictures or special memories that would be a great addition to next year’s tree and place them in your “fragile box.” Thanksgiving crafts from school make for wonderful ornaments. I’m so glad I decided to throw in the “ham” and “turkey” handprints last year. It was probably a last minute add – but such an awesome surprise when I started decorating a year later.
For our family – regardless of the number of trees, the most important will ALWAYS be the memory tree. Because this is how I was taught to cherish memories and I will continue to teach my girls the same.