Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas tree of memories

Husband and I put up the Christmas tree last night. We got the tree in July from someone who was giving it away on freecycle. Last night was the first time we had opened the box. I was a bit worried that the tree would look horrible, but to my surprise, it wasn't that bad. For the price we paid, I am happy with our tree. After all, you can't beat getting something for free!

As you can see, I still need a star or something to put on the top. I spent hours last year looking for one, and this year has been no different. I just can't seem to find something that is satisfactory.

Decorating the tree is like taking a walk down memory lane. Over the past few years, I have collected ornaments from various places I have travelled to. As I unwrap each ornament, the memories of that place wash over me. I think of the people I was with and the things we did there. Here are just a few of the ornaments and the memories behind them. This tradition started on my first visit to New York City. It was New Year's Eve, so all the shops still had Christmas stuff up. (Just a side note, I do NOT recommend NYC on New Year's Eve! It is so not worth it. Stay home, nice and warm with a bathroom nearby and watch the ball drop on your TV.) I bought this Statue of Liberty ornament to remember the day. Every time I pull it out, I not only think of that New Year's Eve, but I also think of the proceeding trips to NYC. Until I lived just outside the city, I only went once or twice a year. I would always go at Christmastime. There is something special about Christmas in NYC: seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center, the Macy's window displays, watching the Rockettes Christmas show, seeing people dragging Christmas trees down the busy sidewalks, eating roasted nuts from a street vendor. All the sights, sounds and smells of New York City come back to me as I place the Statue of Liberty on my tree.

A couple of years ago, when Husband and I were dating we wanted to go hiking in the Adirondacks. Due to poor planning on our part, we never did find an good hiking trail. Rather than turn around and head home, we decided to drive up to Lake Placid. What a great idea that turned out to be. The town was home to the 1980 Winter Olympics, and even in the summer it feels like a skiing town. We spent the day wandering the streets, popping in and out of shops, and visiting the various Olympic event sites (right in front of the high school is the speeding skating track!). This spontaneous trip to Lake Placid is one of our favourite memories, and we reference it all the time. Who knew that poor planning could end with such a great day?

Perhaps my favourite place to visit in Boston is the Habour right next to the Aquarium. I could sit for hours at the Harbour and watch the ships as I listen to the water. Anytime anyone came to visit me, I would make sure I took them to the Harbour. This ornament brings back more than memories of the Harbour, though. It reminds me of my years spent in Massachusetts. It reminds me of the trees, the ocean, the beach, the crazy drivers, and the wonderful people who I met there.
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This New Hampshire outhouse ornament is one of my most cherished and favourite ornaments. It reminds me off my dear friends, The Willard's. You would be hard pressed to find better people than Alicia and Jon. They are two of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. They would literally give you the shirts off their backs if you needed it. They are always there if you need anything, ready and willing to help. Jon's family has a small rustic cabin (complete with an outhouse) in New Hampshire. Alicia and Jon would invite me to go to the cabin a few times a year. Those weekends at the cabin were fantastic. There is no TV, no radio and very spotty cell phone reception. The weekend would be spent hiking, relaxing, shopping in the cute little towns nearby, swimming in the lake, skiing, and driving through the White Mountains. The cabin was where I found peace and solace. It was where time stopped for a couple days, where life became clear and centered again. It was wonderful to get away for a weekend, especially when life was bit stressful. I was at the cabin just a few weeks after my father died (and I might add, it was also about 5 weeks after Alicia and Jon got married. That's the type of people they are. They knew I was going through a rough time and they knew a weekend at the cabin would do me a world of good, so they invited me to go with them, even though they had been married less than 2 months!) It was at the cabin that I decided that I wanted to marry Husband. I miss the cabin more than I miss anything else about New England. That cabin was my sanctuary

When we went on our cruise last year, I wanted to find a nativity set to bring back. We searched every island we stopped at but had no luck. I was starting to give up hope. Finally, on the last day at the last island, we found one! Not only was it a nativity, but it was an ornament too! When I see this ornament I think about the cruise and about search for the nativity. Then I laugh a bit because I think of the craft market I went to here in Central Texas a couple of months ago where there was an long table full of these exact same ornaments! All that searching in the Caribbean for something that could be bought in a town just an hour down the road!

Although it wasn't always easy to find ornaments on my travels and I am missing a few (you try finding a ornament in Kentucky in July!), I love my tradition! It makes decorating the tree more fun. I am able to share stories with Husband of my life before him, and then we reminisce about the places we've been together. We laugh as we share memories then we hang those memories on our tree.


SongbirdMama said...

What an awesome post. It's great that these ornaments hold so many memories for you.

The Lawlor's said...

Mitch, I love your ornaments and the stories behind them. Buying an ornament to remember a trip is also our tradition. I like it better than buying something that just sits around and collects dust.

Alicia said...

Awe.... shucks.... the cabin misses you too!

The Samples Sampler said...

Kari, I agree! The souveniers come out once a year, and I think that helps me to appreciate the memories more.

Malinda said...

Your tree looks beautiful! as for the top, I got tired of either having nothing there cause I couldn't find what I wanted or being frustrated cause what I didn't want was on the top of the tree. I hate angels and stars are well goddy to me. So Last year I came up with a great idea to make a giant bow with four long ends and put in on the top. I weaved the ends in and out of the branches and it looks FAB!!! I will now use that every year! good luck with your findings! have a Merry Christmas!