My sister Jackie put me to shame when, a couple of weeks ago, she called to gloat that she had assembled and decorated one of her Christmas trees already. She generally puts up two trees and was mighty proud of the fact she was this far ahead of the game.
I, on the other hand, ceremoniously wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to put up my lone tree. No Black Friday crowds for this gal.
Being a working person, I don’t exactly look forward to putting up the tree, but there is one thing I always enjoy … unwrapping the ornaments. Most, collected over the years, have special meaning, given to me by family and friends, past and present. Carefully unwrapping each invokes some very touching memories.
One of my favorites is a small red glass ball with a silver-lined indentation in the form of a star. This is the only ornament I have left from my childhood, when our trees were real, strung with fat, colored bulbs and tinsel and smelled like Christmas.
The painting has been chipping off for years but, wrapped carefully in tissue paper, I’ve been able to preserve a remarkable memory of my mom and my family.
Do you have any cherished ornaments or decorations that have become part of your Christmas tradition?
Kevin Tracey, Lowell: My grandpa was a train engineer. Only seven when he died, I was sad because we were close. That Christmas, my grandma gave me a tiny, tin train engine. She said it would remind me of grandpa whenever I helped decorate the tree. Twenty years later, my wife and I make a special deal out of putting it front and center on our tree. Merry Christmas, grandpa!
Sue Marovich, Dyer: We have a small manger set that goes back to when my grandmother was a little girl. It has some chips and missing pieces here and there … one of the cows is missing a leg. Since they were little, setting the manger under the tree has always been the job of my kids. They always wait, somewhat impatiently, until the decorating is done and then carefully lay out the pieces. It’s a precious thing to watch.
Kelly Macenko, Merrillville: I still have most of the ornaments my kids made when they were in school. Every year I find myself unable to let go of them, gluing on pieces of macaroni as well as the bits of ribbon and yarn. The kids can’t believe I still hang on to them. I tell them that one day, when they have kids of their own, they’ll understand.
Brett Erickson, Schererville: One Christmas Eve, when I was about 12, my dad had to go into work in downtown Chicago for a couple of hours and asked me to go with him. Passing by the Marshall Field’s windows, I spotted a display of Christmas nutcrackers, the ones that look like soldiers. I thought they were the coolest things. On the way home, dad took me into the store and bought one for me … a special Christmas present, he said. That nutcracker still has a special place on my Christmas mantle.