There really is nothing quite like the feeling of joy that surrounds the Christmas season. From singing Christmas carols to baking sugar cookies, receiving Christmas cards of friends new and old to decorating your home with festive pretties, and everywhere else in between….there is something so magical about the most wonderful time of the year.
For me, the magic stems from memories of my family Christmas traditions, particularly those of my early childhood years. Year after year, those memories continue to make me stand in awe and wonder during this special time. I come from a family rooted in deep holiday tradition and Christmas spirit. There was always a list of things that we would do every year together as a family: drive down to the Country Club Plaza and Crown Center and look at Christmas lights while sipping on hot chocolate, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together, bake Christmas cookies, attend my Aunt Connie’s infamous Christmas party, eat sloppy joes on Christmas Eve….all such beautiful, meaningful experiences. But the one memory that always stands out in the forefront of my mind is the years of putting up our Christmas tree.
My mom’s birthday falls on the 23th of November, just in time to get the Christmas tree up before the busy holiday season begins. Per tradition, we always trim the tree after we eat her celebratory birthday dinner. Some people prefer a real tree, but we always had a fake evergreen growing up, the one with the color-coated layers (you know which one I’m talking about). And every year, we would twine the lights around the tree, hang the garland and fluff the skirt around the bottom. But then came the part that made my hear pitter-patter – the hanging of the ornaments.
Ever since my brother and I were born, we each received a new ornament for the tree every year. When we were young, my mom would pick out an ornament that represented that year of our life. As we got older, my mom would let us pick out our own ornaments. As the time to trim the tree got closer every year, I would always start to grow anxious with anticipation of what ornament I would pick. I fondly remember going to the Christmas stores and carefully picking which ornament I would take home. And every year I would always choose the same kind of ornament – something extremely delicate and girly; something that I thought was precious and beautiful. I was always so proud to bring my new ornament home and hang it on the tree. And no matter how many trees I saw, I thought that our tree was the most beautiful one I had ever seen – it just had so much love put into it. I would creep down the stairs early in the morning, turn the lights on and just sit on the floor and stare at our beautiful tree, sparkling in the corner of the room. These are some of my most vivid childhood memories.
Now as an adult, I still grow anxious to travel back to my parents home and trim their tree. So many memories rush back into my mind as I pull out my precious ornaments from the boxes; my sledding Big Bird with the glued-on nose, my Pinocchio riding a sea horse, my glittery turtle dove, my stained-glass heart, the numerous hand made ornaments. These are such precious pieces of my heart; pieces of what Christmas represents to me – the togetherness of family, the beauty of the holiday season, the child-like wonder that is found in each of our hearts, and of course, the real meaning of Christmas in celebrating Jesus’s birth on that holy night so many years ago in a manger.
Having two littles of my own, I have continued my family’s tradition of ornament picking with my girls. I can only hope that as my kids grow older that they too will have the same excitement and anticipation choosing an ornament and trimming the tree that I did as a little girl. There is nothing quite like seeing a small child looking upon a Christmas tree and seeing that they recognize the magic in front of them.
I always love hearing about other family’s Christmas traditions. I hope that this inspires you to look back on your childhood and relive the magic of this special time of year, maybe even sharing about it on your blog as well or carrying over an old tradition from years ago to your family now. Praying that your days be merry and bright, as well as your Christmas tree 🙂