The Memory Tree

“Hallmark” has been running ads about their Christmas ornaments, and the memories that are inevitably tied to them.  The kids go up to the attic to get the ornaments and start unpacking them as they remember what major life event happened when they brought that particular ornament home.  Our tree is just that, a memory tree.  For a time we bought a Christmas tree ornament every year, sometimes two or three.  Our collection of memories numbers in the hundreds now, and it’s getting harder to find branches on the tree to exhibit them, but we do.  And our tree rotates so it’s a full 360 degree canvas, floor to ceiling.  We’re big into little Christmas mice, Santa Claus, and those ornaments made over the years by the kids.  They are so proud of them, and you can’t help but remember their smiling little faces when they gave them to you.  Then they get to admire it in its special place on the tree every year after.

This one is from Brandi.  Her smiling face is right there to see every December when she was just seven years old.  A snapshot of how she looked the day she gave it to her mother after making it in school.

I have other favorites on our tree.  I put a few pictures of them here with some selfishness.  I wanted to share them, and I think our tree rivals any tree on “Hallmark,” but done for the same reason.  I can’t remember now where and when we got a lot of them, but my wife will remind me, and sometimes I’ll remind her.  Christmas memories flood back.  Little vignettes from 1991 or 2003 and even 1960.

Here’s a little church mouse in bed, with visions of cheddar cheese in his head, waiting for Santa.  The name on the end of the bed is “Sven,” a nickname I got from a co-worker when I was a collection manager with Citicorp Credit Services.  I remember getting the ornament, I remember who gave it to me, and I can still see me sitting at my desk laughing about the hand-made sign glued to the bed.

Who doesn’t like scrabble.  Check out the size of the letter tiles on this game board.

This next Christmas ornament we got in Virginia City, NV, one summer when we took a trip up there.  I went to visit the Mark Twain museum.  Samuel Clemens worked for the “Territorial Enterprise” newspaper for a time and it was here he first used his famous pen name.  He had come to Virginia City to  join his brother in search of their fortune in silver mining.  They didn’t find it.  And it was summer.  They have a Christmas Shop there that is open all year.  It’s literally walking into Christmas in July. 

The next ornaments, I just like.  I can’t remember when or where we got them, like I said, but check them out. 


There are hundreds of others, slowly rotating in display on our tree.  Some are milestones like the one on the right.  Some just point out who this tree belongs to like this one on the left.

Every year, my wife carefully unpacks the ornaments one by one and decorates the tree.  My responsiblity is to get the tree put up.  I pulled my back doing it one year.  It’s a pretty heavy tree assembled in four sections.  Maybe only God can make a tree, but I can put one together pretty well I think.  And yes, its artificial and pre-lit and hard to tell from the real thing in my opinion.    No needles to vacuum up, no worry about the dogs drinking the water, no price-gouging, no fire-hazard, but no pine smell either.  We remedy that with pine scents.  They make some pine icicles you can hang on your artificial tree now and it smells almost like the real thing.  Almost.  Besides, I believe pine trees belong in the forest.

Well, I hope I didn’t bore you with my christmas ornaments.  I have hundreds more if you want to see them.  WTF. 



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9 responses to “The Memory Tree

  1. I adore my Christmas ornaments. But my favorites are the ones my kids have made. I found a long forgotten box of them in the garage the other day, and I felt like I had won the lottery!

    • I’ve lost many of my kids’ ornaments, through divorce and other things, but I still have many. I remember one I made in grade school for my mom made out of toothpicks and a styrofoam ball, the whole thing spray-painted gold. It was supposed to be a star, I guess, but it looked more like Sputnik. That silly thing was always on her tree.

  2. The memories are the best part of Christmas, aren’t they? I love your Christmas mice ornaments, they’re sweet. So is the one with the birds : )

  3. You’ve got some cool ornaments. And not just any kind but they are actually symbolic, which makes them all the more special. Quite unique too. Love the ones with the photos inside.

  4. Very nice. I have some homemade ornaments that I treasure and one small framed picture of my son on this first Christmas. Precious trinkets… 🙂

  5. Brandi Shaw

    You almost made me cry with this one!! I really miss spending the holidays with you guys. In my humble opinion you guys really do it right and I am beyond exited to spend this Christmas with you.


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