The live trees are bare, soon to be disposed of. The decorations are back in their boxes. The candle lights that graced the window sills are dark. Christmas 2018 is now history. But before it passes completely, a few traditions and memories of this Christmas season and some of years past must be remembered.
Our customized Christmas tree ornaments are among our family’s most important traditions. For our first Christmas together in 1983, Mike started a Christmas tradition that lives on each year. Mike creates an ornament with the names of each family member who spends the night with us and shares our Christmas morning. The ornaments also note our location. As I take these ornaments off of the tree, I am reminded of family members who are no longer with us, and Christmases past when they were. I also remember Christmases that we travelled to Georgia to spend the holiday with daughter Tara’s family. On a couple of ornaments, I see names that Mike and I had given ourselves as soon to be first-time grandparents. On ornaments of subsequent years, our names changed when our first grandchild, Mary Grace, decided to name us something different! On a couple of ornaments, there is a question mark, representing the unknown name of a soon to be born grandchild. All of these customized ornaments are family treasures. But there are other special ornaments as well.
Another of Mike’s traditions is our collection of White House ornaments. I have always enjoyed these ornaments as a special collection. This year they have become even more meaningful as a representation of our country’s most important house, and the ones who occupy it. I hope our country’s most important values and legacies will be protected by those elected in all positions to serve us.
There are several of our ornaments that were handcrafted by friends many years ago. Some of those people I will probably never see again, but who were an important part of my life in certain stages. Among these is an ornament made for me by Frenchie Dye when I taught nursing school at Gadsden State Junior College in the late 1970s. This ornament brings back wonderful memories of that time and the people with whom I shared it.
There are special ornaments from England given to me by my good friend Anna Upchurch when she lived there. Anna passed away, but she lives on in these ornaments and in my other memories of her.
Several of our ornaments were made by Gina’s aunt, and each year as I place them on the tree, I remember how important this aunt was to Gina, and how important Gina is to me. Gina has worked with me in various capacities for almost twenty years, and I am so thankful for her. This blog would not be possible without Gina!
I hope that you can feel how important our family’s ornaments are to us. They are a tangible way that memories are kept alive, and traditions are continued. As important as they are, however, our family and friends are even more important. Each Christmas as our traditions continue, it is those with whom we share these traditions and create these memories that are most important. As our customized family ornaments show us, we lose some family members as the years pass and welcome others into the family. The circle of life continues.
As we enter a new year, may we cherish our traditions and memories of years past, and those with whom we share them.