Not Just Ornament(al)

Christmas, ornament, SantaHanging ornaments on a Christmas tree is one of the finest pleasures of the Christmas season.

Because, of course, we’re not just hanging a silver glittery ball or a tiny red straw Santa.

We’re hanging memories.

“Oh, look at the ornament Daughter made in 2nd grade,” I gush to my guy.Christmas ornaments, memories

“Atrocious,” he replies with a smile. He attempts to hang it on the back of the tree (because, really, it is rather ugly), but I move it front and center.

Every year, each ornament brings us back to the years earlier – first love and cuddling next to the fireplace; raising our kids as the toys go from wooden puzzles to video games and then gift cards; and then a tiny ornament frame of the first grandchild.

Christmas ornament, Christmas tree, memoriesI touch the delicate cerulean glass ball that Daughter brought back from her year in Florence. The tiny tree lights reflect off the glass ornament, and the entire tree seems to shine.

Just like our memories.

Do you have a favorite hanging memory?

Christmas tree, Christmas stockings, smokers

Happy Holidays to You and Yours on this Bright Season of Love.

129 thoughts on “Not Just Ornament(al)

  1. Yes the ornaments are what makes the tree special !! I have all of my son’s handmade ornaments on the tree. I doubt he will ever want them. I saved some ornaments from my parents’s tree. I feel that they are here with me in spirit. Ornaments from places we visited remind me of wonderful vacations we have taken. They all speak to me as I place them gently on the tree branches. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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  2. That is so true, Pam. We only get a little table top tree now, but we will still have the ornaments friends got us, and the ornaments our children made. And we have some special Hanukkah items, too.
    Happy holidays to you and yours!

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  3. Pam,
    Love this post. Perfect for the season! Looking back at our life, I wish we had a tree full of ornaments from places we’ve been. All ornaments that are use. Sure some of those exist now, but what if we intentionally started the collection many years ago. Oh well … hindsight is always clear.

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    • Perhaps my post will encourage others to start collecting a special ornament every year, Frank. We need to get a large tree every year to combine the kids’ ‘creations’ and then more elaborate ones that we discovered from different places or even better, from friends. My guy and I began to collect a “smoker” every year when our kids were young. Not sure why, except we found this neat small German boutique in SF that sold really fun ones: a Pied Piper one year, an elf one year, and a Mother Goose another. Anyway, now we have enough to spread across the mantle. Good memories. I send you happy holiday greetings!

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  4. Our Christmas tree ornaments are old OLD! Gifts from friends of yore and children’s “handmades” are our special adornments. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Some are about 50 years old, like the woven straw ones which may be a fire hazard – ha! A perfect theme for this time of year, Pam. Thank you.

    By the way, I just saw a glimpse of you reading at the library on Twitter – BRAVA!

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    • The older the better, Marian. Ornaments AND humans. 🙂 Your Christmas tree sounds full of special hanging memories.
      Thanks for the kudos. Yup, I followed your lead and “got myself out there” a bit. It was actually fun!

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  5. We’ve given each of our kids an ornament every year from birth so that when they’re ready to leave the nest they have a collection begun for their own trees. For now, those ornaments go on our family tree and every year we are reminded of all our blessings when we decorate for Christmas. Lots of love to your and your family this holiday season. ❤

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  6. Oh how pretty your tree looks. Our posts surely are similar this week. I have worn out glass ornaments from the 1960’s that my grandma gave them to my mom when we were kids. My mom never wanted to hang them. She made us hang these ugly, uniform red-apple ornaments. I used to beg her to let me hang the glass ones but she never did. So, when I got married I asked my mom if I could have the glass ornaments, and she happily handed them over. They have all different colors and painted designs that are so very worn out, but I love them. Of course, I put up newer ornaments with them, the Santa, the angel, the reindeer, etc. But, the old ones are my favorite.

    Merry Christmas, Pam.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glass ornaments are my favorite. I think because of the way they shine on the tree. Interesting how some people do like to decorate a Christmas tree all in one color (all blue/or all white/or all red) with similar looking ornaments. I’m with you – ‘worn out” well-loved differently designed ornaments are those that give the most pleasure. Merry, Merry Christmas to you. ❤

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  7. Each year we take a sharpie and write on a plain ornament who was with us on Christmas. We started this twenty-five years ago and have memorialized grandparents, parents, and pets. Each year is a remembrance for those who have passed and a blessing since they still are with us in spirit. Lovely post, Pamela. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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    • What a unique and beautiful way to celebrate the hanging of memories! I’ve already shared your tradition with friends and relatives, who are wonder-struck with the idea.
      To the season of kindness and giving and enjoying the company of friends and family, John.

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  8. So true! Each year I hang the old memories and also always find one new one to add to the collection. All the people we have ever loved are there and all the creatures and more.
    It is a treasured collection of a lifetime.

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    • Some people say they want to go smaller on their Christmas tree as they get older, but the fact is, the older we get, the more memories we have to hang. So we need a BIGGER tree each year! ;-0 Thanks for sharing your words about your treasured collection – beautiful!

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  9. 90% of my tree ornaments are ones with a memory attached. My tree (I use the weeping fig rather than killing another tree) looks kind of ratty, but it is loaded in “trinkets” that bring back meaning and thoughts of love and kindness from the giver of the ornaments. As I hang them up, I catch myself thinking, “Oh look at this, and look at that….” And I pause to think of those people. Many are paper ornaments made by little kids who are now grown up with children of their own. Reminiscing time!

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  10. Oh those memories… I still have a few from the Grands that I treasure hanging each year. A couple of decades ago, I gave our daughters their Christmas memory ornaments (most hand made together when they were young. Now they hang on their own trees and have those memories to share with the Grands when they come to visit. I do have a few new memory ornaments–made from seashells by my sister who came to visit from Texas summer of 2018… So special! I have lots of framed Christmas photos of daughters and Grands that I put up on shelves and window sills along with garland. Love all those memories and look forward to making more. ❤ Christmas love and blessings to you and your family, Pam! xoxoxoxo…

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  11. I have plenty of memories for almost every ornament I hang — weather it is a gift from a friend in Germany to my daughter’s baked/pottery heart ornaments from grade school. But I collect ornaments every where I travel. And, of course the memory of special ornaments from friends. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Pamela.

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  12. It’s like looking at old photos putting up the ornaments each year because we forget about the history. Then there are the inevitable issues that spring up. Our tree came down once in an earthquake, and some of the ornaments were damaged. We’ve always had dogs, and depending on the individual dog, that can be a challenge. I forgive them some of the time as I understand how they could confuse certain ornaments for a ball.

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    • Whoa – I hadn’t thought of a Christmas tree coming down because of an earthquake! We lived in the SF Bay area for 20 years but thankfully never had that problem. But lots of crooked hanging photos on the walls from the ’89 quake – and a chandelier that swung wildly but fortunately not enough to fall down. And dogs and Christmas trees? Rather too enticing for some. 🙂

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  13. How lovely, Pam! Christmas never had much meaning to me and my family when growing up on Belgium. The ornaments in the fresh Christmas tree were called Christmas balls. They had different colors and lots of shine. That was it. Our New Year gifts would be underneath the tree. How much more special it is, when ornaments are memories and have special meaning.

    Happy holidays to you and yours and enjoy the cozy atmosphere this time brings.

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    • I enjoy hearing about different Christmas traditions among families and in other countries. I bet ornaments began as “balls,” but then the idea got more creative. We used to make popcorn strings too and hang that around the tree until one year the ants discovered it. No more food on the tree after that! :-0 HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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  14. The only ornaments I kept when I downsized are those which my mother made. Most of the other ornaments I have, in the past, used them as decoration on Christmas gifts offered to the younger generation of my family. I wish you and your family a heartwarming Christmas Holiday, Pam. ❤

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  15. I really like this post, Pam. My ornaments are a conglomeration of gifts and things I’ve found that I cherish. I have a lot of Angels on my tree and small glass figures. I separated my ornaments last year with on tub going to my son and one to my daughter. This year we only put up half of the tub my daughter has since she lives with me. But my favorite is the Angel Tree topper that has moving wings and arms. One arm holds a light that symbolizes a candle. I haven’t seen another one like it in 30 years. The lights are growing dim but she still moves nicely each year. Your post makes me very thoughtful about them. I have nothing from my younger years with my children. Too many moves and so much got left behind with husband #1. But I still have the kids.. :))

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  16. Pam, I LOVE this post … I too have so special memories of many of the tree ornaments and often pause with them, reminisce, feel the warmth and love of the moment from years before anew! You do right to bring your daughter’s early school made ornament right to the front to hang proudly for all to see! Wishing your a holiday filled with love and joy, your heart and warmth embracing your wonderful family! hugs ❤️

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    • I imagine you are still in the warm embrace of Christmas time with your family and your hanging memories, Annika. Maybe you received another ornament this year to hang and remember in years to come. A friend gave me an ornament that is a pewter cat’s paw, and in the center she placed a picture of Molly from my new children’s book. How clever! A new ornament that will hopefully be hung on many future Christmas trees. ❤

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    • Decorating the tree is one of my most favorite things this time of year. And when it’s time to bring the Christmas tree down, just as fun to lovingly remember and then store the ornaments for the following year, right? Hope you’re enjoying this Christmas week, Jacqui, Knowing you, you’re back at the writing table. xo

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  17. Your tree looks lovely, full of warmth, love and good memories. I left many of my ornaments with my daughter when we moved to Spain. So she has the memories now and I have made some new ones. Have a wonderful Christmas, my dear friend. xo

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  18. Pingback: My Christmas Chaos Tree and Merry Christmas – Robbie's inspiration

  19. So true, Pam. We have many memories hanging on our tree, including the bittersweet such as the cross-stitch Christmas teddy bear my daughter made, following my divorce and our move to a tiny apartment. Another one is a replica of Smokey, Paul’s cat who left us in 2007. But there are many happy ones as well. Merry Christmas to you! ❤

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  20. How lovely, Pam. I also move those precious ornaments to the front. I have plenty from my kids, but also from my parents that they saved from when I was a kid – painted clay and clothespins, photos on felt, pipe cleaners with aluminum foil beads…. It’s a joy to hang them on the tree. Have a wonderful Christmas and new year full of happiness, good health, and creative fun. ❤

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  21. I love his post, Pam. it reminds me of so many of the ornaments on our tree. Some were on my dad’s tree when he was a boy, and before that on his grandmother’s tree. There are some from my mother’s childhood tree, ornaments our children made, and now we are proudly and lovingly hanging ornaments from our grandchildren. I could write a story about Christmases past. Merry Christmas, my dear, and congrats on hanging your daughter’s ornament where it belongs, front and center!

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  22. We have some ornaments that we’ve brought back from various places – Santas and angels from Rome, trolls from Norway, a statue of liberty and yellow taxi from New York, those are our special shared memories. Wishing you all the best for the Holidays and the year to come Pam!

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  23. My mother in law gave my an ornament every year as long as she lived . I love the first one, it is a stain glass window with my husband’s name and my name on it. A beautiful post Pam, wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.

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    • I think glass and stained glass ornaments are my favorite – they are certainly the most beautiful. And the stained glass with your and your husband’s names on it, given by your mom-in-law…? The BEST kind of ornament. ❤

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  24. How pretty, Pam! We have many ornaments from the past and so I like the way you phrase it – “hanging memories.” Although this is the first year I decorated the tree by myself (family logistics…), I felt like the whole group was there. Merry Christmas!

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  25. I love my memory tree! And I love decorating it with my grandchildren and telling them all about the ornaments.
    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Pam, and I wish you and your family an even more wonderful 2020! Hugs across the waves.

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  26. oh yes, my favorite thing about Christmas. I still have my boys preschool ornaments made of pipe cleaners and macaroni..just the best! Problem is, I get very sad when it comes time to take everything down…

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  27. Being Jewish we don’t celebrate Christmas, but one of the things I love to see are the different decorations and ornaments on trees, especially ornaments that have special meanings and memories. Sometimes I think about the fact that with our nomadic ways, we have not managed to hold onto any of these kinds of physical memorablia ~ the things my kids made when they were little, the notes, the cards etc. At least we have our photo albums, although right now those are still in Sri Lanka and we are trying to figure out a way to reattach to them. Sigh.

    Peta

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  28. In theory, I do. However, with many years of pets de-trimming the tree and lack of time, almost all my ornaments remain packed in boxes. I sometimes to think to toss the boxes out as I haven’t opened them since I’ve lived here, but I can’t – for just that reason. I know there are memories in there. When the time is exactly right, I know I’ll visit them again. Glad you’re enjoying yours. 🙂

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    • That is a dilemma. I know when my mom moved to a smaller apartment she placed her precious ornaments in a box in the apt building’s storage basement. Every year we talked about going through them (she lived in a different state). But then the basement flooded, and the ornamental memories were ruined. Ouch. Now I wish I had taken out those most precious ones and found a spot for them.

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  29. Wow, you are right, Pam! “Hanging memories.” I had never thought about it this way. I have the privilege of grandchildren hanging ornaments on the tree. Sometimes, these ornaments contain photos of their parents when they were three and six years old. Life coming full circle. A beautiful post evoking memories.

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  30. Christmas trees were not a regular part of the Zambian festive season and I didn’t start the tradition even after I left home, so I don’t have any memories of decorating Christmas trees. Eating chicken and rice and drinking soda, though, were and are still a very big part of the culture. It doesn’t matter if you have chicken and rice everyday, that food somehow tastes different on Christmas day. That is what I had last Christmas cooked exactly the way mother used to do it (i.e. with no spices) and was delicious!

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  31. I love your picture Pamela… your tree with all it’s memories!😎 I guess it’s a bit like getting old photos out… you relive a little part of your life all over again.

    When I was child we didn’t keep Christmas due to a very strange church my parents were part of (glad to say we all left that back in the 90s and learned to enjoy Christmas! I went through a phase in my 20s where I decorated a tree very year. But in my thirties, I got tired of decorations and just put cards up, because most of the Christmas holidays was spent at relatives homes, not my own… just didn’t feel worth the effort for me alone to look at.

    An aunt and uncle of mine put up the same decorations they’ve had for years… it’s lovely to see all the twinkling lights and decorations every year. I discovered one set of lights my uncle has owned since he was a teen in the 1950s. Here’s a picture I took a few years ago of one of those little lantern lights. https://images.pexels.com/photos/1620053/pexels-photo-1620053.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=2&h=650&w=940 He’s been stringing those lights up since Christmas 1954 and not once have they needed a bulb change, or anything replacing… amazing! It just proves that all the useless items we purchase today that barely last a year or two before something needs renewing or the whole product is ruined… doesn’t need to happen. I call them, the environmentally friendly lights! 😅

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    • Yes, there’s something about xmas lights and decorations that lift the winter soul. I know the lights in December help get through the short days and long nights. Amazing about your uncle’s lights. A perfect example of how things USED to be made to last a lifetime.

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