A Natural Tree

A Natural Tree

My decision to not put ornaments on the tree this year, an act that always brings me great joy, was made with their safety in mind. I am sure that, by season’s end, all of the sharp, fragile, sentimental, unique talismans would have been smashed or lost or swallowed.

Instead I’ve been enjoying a simpler tree, with white lights, candy canes (or little striped swords in Leo’s mind) and garlands made from oven-dried oranges that I have been wanting to try out for years.

Yet, regardless of how much I have been enjoying this year’s more natural, minimal tree, I would have been too sad not to share some of my most favorite ornaments. Especially as I am becoming more and more passionate about cataloging, photographing and archiving the treasures in this magical house—my families artifacts that have accumulated over four generations—with the knowledge that we may not have this home forever.

These ornaments recall actual memories from my own childhood. The way in which I hope Leo will remember his first Christmases in this same house that I experienced my own firsts. Bears have always been my mom’s spirit animal, since before I was born, so each bear ornament that has been passed down (there are MANY) immediately remind me of her. Likewise, trains are my father through and through. They are the symbols that have forever been attached to him in my memories, as gifts he was given and in family stories. I can’t actually say why trains have become synonymous with my father, except that he’s always kept time like a cross-country steamer. It never actually happened, but I’m convinced I may have been left behind at times when I didn’t have my seatbelt buckled at the exact time of departure.

The purple bulb reminds me of a sweater that someone once wore and seems to perfectly encapsulate the 80’s—the decade I identify least with, and the one that made me. And these little wooden figures, like the skier pictured here, might just be completely perfect as they inexplicably wash me in pure joy at every glance. Clearly nostalgia is a powerful drug.

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Would I love to be sharing these ornaments with Leo already? In some ways yes. But, in more ways, I want to remind myself that time moves quickly enough already without me forcing it along. There will be so many seasons to come of memories old and fresh, ornaments broken and new ones added to the collection, traditions followed, abandoned, created. For now we’ll enjoy hanging dried fruits on the tree together. And I’ll enjoy saying again and again that, “no, honey. they’re not for eating.”

From our crazy season to yours, wishing you joy for the holidays above all.

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