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Are Ornaments Necessary?


DSC03225For just a moment, long enough to take a picture, I decided our Christmas tree was beautiful with only lights – no ornaments, no angel, no red ropes -just lights. It was late one night in early December, and I was really tired when I posted that picture on Facebook and wrote “Are ornaments necessary?” And Facebook friends chimed in.

Nell: Real Simple magazine recommended this style of decorating about twelve years ago. I tried it and got zero votes of approval from my grown and gone children.

Kim: If they are special to you.

Janet: Well, you know the hard part is over. Go for it. (I didn’t even do the hard part. Husband did.)

Carolyn: I found out I could do without some ornaments this year. Got tired of finding a place to hang all of them. I looked at them, remembered, and put them back in the box. Does that count? (Yes!)

Jimmie: I’ve made the grievous move from a live tree to an artificial one. I’ll enjoy going through the ornaments, but there will be serious downsizing. Things change, but the tree will be pretty, just different.

Sara: The ornaments tell stories of our life and Christmas past and present. I’ve seen many lovely trees, but for us, the ornaments matter because they connect us to one another, whether present or absent, living or not, family or friends.

Becky: I’ve passed the ornament memories to Staci (daughter), which she loves, and I simplified my tree, just red ornaments and frosted pinecones. Different tree, same Christmas memories! It’s all in the heart anyway.

Carol: (a retired teacher) I still enjoy the ornaments because I have names of students written on many and I say a prayer for each of them as I hang their ornaments. The ornaments bring such fond memories of days gone by and remind me of the love we shared during the school year and beyond.

Tanya: I love personal ornaments. It warms me so when I open my box of decorations and see all those handmade ornaments given to me by my children and special friends.

Daughter: Yes!!!! I’ll send some elves over to help tomorrow. So you only have to do the top third and maybe a little rearranging on the bottom. And don’t forget the train underneath!

My friends encouraged me. The next morning I strung the red bead ropes and hung my fragile ornaments near the top of the tree and my bird ornaments nestled in a flock. My two oldest Grands and I decorated our most beautiful tree ever, and then they helped Husband set up the train.

I didn’t rearrange a single ornament that my Grands hung. Not even the three that touched each other on one branch. A plastic glitter bell from the first Christmas that Husband and I celebrated as man and wife. A glove ornament cut from one of Granny’s quilts. An elegant green and red ball that was gift from a friend.

I knew the real answer to my question. Ornaments aren’t necessary. Neither are lights or angels or electric trains or even a tree. None are necessary to celebrate Christmas. But my tree is beautiful and late on Christmas night, I plan to sip tea and cherish each ornament. Its memory. Its love. Its story.







Trash or Treasure


My Christmas tree is decorated just the way I like it.  Lights, red bead roping, ornaments and an angel on top.  Ornaments handed down from my parents’ Christmas tree. Ornaments that were gifts from family and friends and school children.  Ornaments made or bought for a special memory.  I can tell the story of each one.  But there are more ornaments still in the storage box.  Some not hung for years.  Enough to decorate another tree, and one tree is all I want.

“Here,” I said to Daughter as I handed her a full plastic bag.  “Take these ornaments to your house, please.  And maybe you’ll hang some on your tree.”  She held the bag in her hands.  “Wait, let me look at those again.”  I took the bag from her.  “Maybe some should be thrown away.”

Who could trash Bert and Ernie?  Handmade, from yarn, and Bert is only missing one eye.  The white crocheted snowflake has just a few yellow spots.  The ceramic angel that I painted would look pretty if someone glued her wing back on.  I can’t trash a Nativity –even a miniature plastic one. A blue Smurf probably means something to one of my children.  The shiny red apple is still pretty.  Why do I have three wooden factory-made stockings?  There’s no name or date on the back of any of them, but they’re cute.

I can’t bring myself to throw away the dozens of calico ornaments that I made in the mid-1970s.  I stitched them at night after our children had gone to bed.  Five-inch stockings and candy canes and wreaths.  Cut from yellow and red and green calico.  Two pieces of fabric zigzagged together and stuffed with polyester pillow stuffing.  Unbreakable.  The only kind of ornament that hung from our tree for several Christmases.  The years when little hands took ornaments off the tree.  And those same hands hung them back on.

I wonder where the picture is of our children when they were 3 and 5.  They were standing beside the Christmas tree and pointing to the ornaments they’d just hung.  Twelve calico ornaments hung side-by-side on the electrical wire between two lights.  Calico really isn’t in style now, but there’s a cotton fabric candy cane and wreath hanging on my tree.

Red glittery plastic bells.  I’m not trashing those.  I bought them at the Dime Store and Husband and I hung them on our very first Christmas tree.  What if I tie a narrow green ribbon through the loop of each one and write “Pop and Gran’s tree, 1969” inside the bellI’ll attach one to the bow on each of our Grand’s gifts.

So the red glittery bells are on my gift-wrapping table and every other ornament that I thought I might cull is back in the plastic bag.  I’ll give them to Daughter.  Surely she won’t throw any away.