A Christmas Memories Box

Christmas tree with cardinal garland

We finally decorated the house for Christmas this weekend. Twenty minutes in, Clare shook her head in disgust and asked, “Can someone become Jewish?”

You see my family doesn’t approve of my decorating skills which are somewhere between a cross of Clark Griswold and anything on the Worst Tacky Decorated Homes for the Season list. Last year after we were done, and I asked everyone how the house looked, Clare surveyed the room blandly and said, “It looks like Christmas barfed up all over the house.”

So this year I tried to take their criticism to heart and not put out every broken ceramic Santa and faded snowman cushion.

The one area I refuse to scale back on is tree decorations. Every year when we open up the box with the ornaments for the tree, Clare says we have way too much and should throw some of it away. But I can’t. To me, our battered old green box is a treasure trove of memories. Each ornament tells a story of a different period in our lives.

There are ornaments I painted by hand after I finished a term at university when I was in my twenties, ornaments made by the kids out of popsicle sticks when they were toddlers, and decorations from every trip we’ve ever taken as a family.

There are ornaments that reflect every aspect of our lives: birdhouses and kayaks, dogs, bagpipers, skates, hockey, musical instruments, wine glasses, plenty of fish (we have an entire tree of fish ornaments!), even a Grinch one that says “2020: Stink, Stank, Stunk”. 

There are scores of snowmen because every year Dave’s sister MaryAnne gave the girls a snowman ornament. When they move out, our tree will become less cluttered. And there are at least half a dozen cardinals in memory of loved ones who can no longer be with us in person, but are always with us in spirit at this time of the year. This year I found a beautiful cardinal ribbon garland we added to the tree in memory of my two sister-in-laws who passed away from cancer.

So I will continue unapologetically to put every ornament in my Christmas memory box on the tree. Tacky be damned.

This week’s #HappyAct is to cherish the memories the holidays bring.

Stink Stank Stunk 2020 ornament

Find perfection in imperfection

christmas tree

We were sitting admiring our Christmas tree last night watching the Sound of Music (or Sound of Mucus, as Dave likes to call it) and wrapping presents, when the lights on the top of the tree went out.

Dave and I just laughed and it reminded me of a few Facebook posts I saw earlier in the week of friends who had brought new trees home, only to find one section of lights on their “pre-lit” tree not working.

This year, after we put our tree up, a whole section of lights wasn’t working, so we went to Crappy Tire and bought a new box of small twinkly warm lights. Of course, we bought the wrong kind (I blame it on Clare) so our tree is a mix of big white lights and small yellowy lights, and now, dark on top.

At this time of year, social media feeds are filled with picture-perfect posts of decorated trees and floral arrangements that could be straight out of Better Homes and Gardens.

Not ours. Our tree is a mishmash of old handmade ornaments made by the kids over the years, three of four different types of garland—strings of red berries, birch bark and glittery tinsel, and a mix-matched collection of decorations.

There’s the requisite collection of fish decorations and ornaments from our various vacations over the years—a lobster from down east, a lighthouse from Cape Hatteras, a bunch of grapes from wine country, even a Montreal Canadiens globe.

And yet, to me, it’s perfect.

This week’s Happy Act is to find perfection in imperfection. Enjoy the spirit of the season. What’s your most treasured ornament on your tree? Leave a comment.

christmas ornaments
Our Cape Hatteras lighthouse ornament and a Russian ornament my friend Miranda gave me

lobster tree ornament
Every tree needs a lobster!