Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Memory Tree

I’ve seen many Christmas trees in my life. My first grade teacher in Arizona brought in a tumbleweed for us to decorate. My trendy Aunt Pat had a silver tree with blue ornaments. Tom and I had fresh cut trees, live trees we later planted in our yard, and at least one artificial tree. I even bought a tiny tree at Jumbo for my coffee table in Kosovo last year. I put a picture of one of those live trees we planted years ago at the bottom of this post. It towers over me...and the house we lived in at that time!

Newest in My Collection:
The Crystal Palm Tree & Ceramic Angel
Christmas trees in some ways anchor our memories to places and times. There was the tree our friend Carl gave us as a wedding present. We had been married almost a week. Christmas was in a couple of days and Carl, a boy in his in his teens showed up at our door with a tree.  

As college students we soon learned that if you waited until Christmas Eve, you could get a free tree when the sales lot closed. Those were silly and fun memories. Of course with those trees come the not so great memories of picking dead pine needles out of the carpet. 

And we didn’t always put a tree up. When we moved to Ohio, we made every effort to spend Christmas with our family in Florida. My parents would have everything ready for our daughters so they could have the fun of decorating the Christmas tree. As the girls grew, our trips included spending the whole holiday or at least part of it at a ski resort. Now those people know how to decorate! Snow guaranteed. 

The Christmas tree was never the focus of the holiday for us but I always liked the beauty of the greenery and the twinkling lights. I loved going out into the woods when my parents moved to Tennessee to pick out the tree as a family. Tom and my dad cut it down and hauled it back to the farmhouse. We made a lot of the ornaments…and memories that year.

This year, after the Thanksgiving table was cleared, my daughters helped me unearth the artificial tree stored in the basement and cart it upstairs. Kendall put it together and plugged it in. It was a start. 
Nora Put Her Favorites Together

I brought red and green tubs of decorations into the living room. Nora and Josie began removing the tissue paper. 

“Who’s this, Doll?” they would ask. 
“Oh that’s your Aunt Alli.” 
“She was a little girl.”

And up went the stocking ornament with Allison’s picture on it.

“I found a decoration with Aunt D!”
“Here’s a baby on an ornament, Doll!”
“That’s your mommy,” I told them.

Up went the ornaments featuring Danielle and Kendall.

We let the second grader and kindergartener decorate the tree as they saw fit. Yes, there were a lot of bare spots. Nora found an ornament with her baby picture on it, placed it as high as she could reach and began adding decorations to it. My youngest daughter said it looked almost like Nora was creating a shrine to herself. We couldn’t help but laugh. 

I could easily spot the ornaments Josie hung. They were low on the tree… Right at her eye level… In the front. She was disappointed all of the snowmen were too heavy to place on one branch. She gasped as they tumbled to the ground. 

I loved giving the little girls total freedom to decorate my Christmas tree their own way. It brought back a flood of memories of my three daughters laughing, singing, and working together. I decided it was perhaps the most beautiful, though lopsided tree in the world. 

A Little Lopsided, Bare in Spots
But Beautiful!
It was getting late and my family had to leave.
I was tempted to close the other boxes and declare the job done.

But then…
There were three of the first ornaments Tom and I bought together when we got married.  There used to be six. I put them on the tree.

My grandmother crocheted little red baskets for our first Christmas tree. We would put tiny wrapped mints in them for visitors to “discover” and eat. It wouldn’t hurt to put a few of those on this year’s tree. 

I turned on some Christmas music. I pulled out more ornaments our children made at church or school to give us as gifts. There were ornaments former students had given me and tiny framed photos of my family. 

There were new ornaments for my tree this year. Ceramic hearts and an angel I bought on a trip to Budapest with some teacher friends. 

And then there were the palm tree ornaments. One of my friends, Candy, read last year’s blog post about how significant the palm tree is for me. I had shared how my children and grandchildren made palm tree ornaments for me first Christmas after Tom died. My friend Grace made a palm tree ornament for my tree in Kosovo. Candy found a beautiful crystal palm tree for me to hang on my tree this year.

It may not be the biggest tree. I can’t plant it in my yard come spring, but it is the first tree in this house. It is my memory tree…with more memories in the making.  

Feel free to share the post(s) or leave a comment. I look forward to hearing about your own special ornaments and memories. 

And Just For Fun...This is Me Standing in Front of One of Our
"Christmas Trees Past."
Hard to Believe This was Once a Small Tree in Our Family Room!


  1. I love the memories ornaments bring. Combined, they can tell a life's story. The memories you shared touched my heart.

    1. Thank you so much, Pamela. I really appreciate you dropping by and offering this sweet comment!


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