Last week we put up our Christmas tree. At the end of each crazy day during this hectic season, it’s so nice to sit back and just take in its beauty.
I have such fond memories of the Christmas trees of my childhood. I remember going with my sister and parents to pick one out; my sis and I always tried to make the case for the tallest, fattest one with no consideration for ceiling height or living room space. Once we finally agreed on one, we’d come home, put on Kolenda, (Polish Christmas carols) and start decorating.
Growing up, our trees always had red ornaments, white lights, and lots of tinsel. A beautiful nativity completed the scene. While we trimmed the tree, we’d reminisce about Christmases past and listen to stories of our grandparents and great grandparents. My mom would make kruschiki, (deliscious Polish cookies) and we’d all get a bit emotional when we’d remember all those who had passed or were far away. We would revel in our wonderful memories of them and the trees in our family’s history.
Once I was married, my husband and I kept some old traditions and started some of our own. We opt for a real tree as well – and I still always look for the tallest and fattest one. We have stuck to white lights, but have forgone the tinsel. While we also listen to carols, they are now American ones. I miss the kruschiki but enjoy our hot chocolate and marshmallows. It’s our ornaments, though, that tell our story.
When we started dating, we had the opportunity to travel quite a bit and started a tradition of buying an ornament at each destination. After our first few Christmases together as a married couple, we had collected a handful of ornaments and had a great time reminiscing about carefree trips (with no strollers) with lots of time on our hands to wander through new cities, having leisurely meals and sleeping in.
Once we had our children, ornament shopping became a family tradition and now on each trip, our daughters help us pick the perfect one. We don’t always agree at first and we do have some rules. The ornament must have the name of the destination on it somewhere and must be reflective of our vacation in some meaningful way.
Next year is our 10-year wedding anniversary, and we’ve been lucky to have picked up many beautiful ornaments along the years. We’ve a added some sentimental ones as well: pictures of the girls as babies, a pair of their Baptismal shoes (which look so tiny) hanging next to a tattered pair of my husband’s baby shoes. There’s one with our wedding picture, a few that our daughters made from various types of craft projects, and quite a few depicting NYC scenes or destinations. We even have a green ball with the number 4 on it, representing our subway line!
When we decorate our tree now, there are hardly any generic ornaments. Each year, we are reminded of so many wonderful trips and moments together. My husband and I love the one on which Santa is holding a bottle and swaying on a Bourbon St. sign, or the one of the beautiful castle in Prague. The kids love the Mickey Mouse one from Disney World and the one with the beach and colorful fish from Turks & Caicos.
We have ornaments from near and far, each one representing unique and unforgettable memories for our family. As we carefully hang them each year, we remember the sights, the funny stories and most importantly, the shared experience of discovering a new place together, as a family.
These ornaments are cherished by all of us and do so much more than just decorate our tree. They tell the story of a couple who discovered a shared love for traveling and was lucky enough to go on amazing trips together, fall in love, get married and pass on this love for travel to their two daughters. I’m excited to see where our upcoming vacations will take us and the stories that our future ornaments will tell.
I also hope that this tradition is one which my children choose to keep and pass down…
One day, their ornaments will tell.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer
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