The Christmas Tree is one of my favorite symbols of Christmas. To me it represents a gathering place, the focal point of Christmas celebrations. I love our annual trek to the tree lot (that makes it sound more romantic than it is...it's actually a bunch of trees laying in the parking lot of a local bait and tackle shop). We select the best Fraser Fir we can find. Once home, it's usually a struggle to get the tree into the stand and then I have a brief moment of disappointment because there is usually a bare spot or some branches out of place (imperfections don't matter once it's decorated). Once upstairs, it's placed in front of our living room window and I begin the process of decorating it.
I'm kind of a snob when it comes to my trees. Even though I have a "rustic" tree with a real mix of decorations, I'm pretty particular with what gets placed on my tree. Dustin and Emma each have their own tree so they can hang some of their homemade and "character" (like Dora and Mickey Mouse) decorations. That in itself has become a fun tradition with the kids.
I love pulling out every decoration and placing it on the tree. Every ornament has a story, a memory. Maybe it was a gift, maybe it was something hand made especially for me, maybe it was store bought - but they all have a story.
In the last 7 years or so, I've made it a point to buy a Christmas ornament every time I travel somewhere. Here is the Santa Claus I picked up during a trip to Baie St. Paul, Quebec this past Fall.
I also have many memories of our Christmas Tree growing up. My father always gave my mother a dated Hallmark Ornament - many we would take off the tree and play with. Much to the demise of my husband (I mean how hard is it to go to Hallmark and pick out an ornament) I had him start the same tradition with me. My mom also gives Emma and Dustin a Hallmark ornament every year. By far, one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Here is my ornament from 2014:
This year our family suffered two significant loses in the month of December. Our paternal Grandmother and maternal Grandfather. And I have many memories of them on my tree.
This ornament was given to me by Gram when I was fairly young. At the time, I would have never appreciated the gift. Now I hang it with special memories of the amazing women Gram was.
This ornament was made by Grampie and now hangs on Dustin's tree. Grampie loved wood working. What a wonderful remembrance of him.
And because Gram and Grampie both left us in December what better way to remember them than with an ornament on the tree. This ornament with the beautiful, heartfelt note was given to me by my loving aunt when Gram passed away.
I knew I wanted to remember Grampie in some way so I found a train ornament. Grampie worked for Canadian National Railways for many years and carried that love for trains throughout his whole life.
As I write this I'm still enjoying our Christmas Tree. And while this month has brought us much grief, I can't help but look at our tree and be reminded of the wonderful life my Grandparents had - what special memories I have of them around the holidays, especially at Christmas. In a few days I'll wrap up all these special ornaments. They'll be packed away until next year, when I'll carefully unwrap them and relive all those wonderful memories again.