My Christmas tree isn’t stunning. It isn’t one of those interior decorator-decorated trees complete with a theme and color scheme.
No, my Christmas tree is a little like organized chaos. It’s a combination of ornaments I’ve gathered throughout my life, ribbon and colors I like, twinkling lights, and twist ties used as ornament hangers.
But I like my tree, because everything on it is meaningful. Everything tells a story. I’ve picked up ornaments in places I’ve traveled and wanted to remember, like Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, NM and Newport, RI. There are candy cane ornaments that hung from the branches of the trees of my childhood. There are St. Louis Cardinals snowmen, uniforms, and even Fred Bird, the mascot. There are raffia bows I tied myself for that first almost bare tree the first Christmas I lived on my own.
There are ornaments from my childhood.
Like this Cabbage Patch Kid someone gave me when I was a child. My brother had one, too, a boy, of course, and we proudly placed them on every Christmas tree since we were about 5 or 6. They were on the tree the year after our grandpa died when we were 13. Happily placed there that last Christmas in high school and there that first Christmas when we came home from our first semester in college. They were there the year my best friend got married and my brother’s girlfriend (who I didn’t really like) was at our house as we decorated. When we moved into our own homes, my mom gave them to us.
There’s this little guy, a harlequin clown, I think, and I know you can’t see his face clearly. That’s good, because my childhood dog, Twinkie, stole this guy off the tree one year and maimed him. But I hang him somewhere on the tree, maybe even a little hidden, every year, because of who gave him to me. That ornament was a gift from Amanda Pounds, a dear lady who was in her 60s or 70s when I was a child, but who loved me, taught me, and showed me what loving others like Jesus looks like. She was an important part of my spiritual formation, a pillar in my home church, and the kind of person I’d like to be one day. She passed away when I was in college, but I still cherish the ornament she gave me when I was in elementary school.
There are ornaments from my parents’ first Christmas tree as a married couple. I hang them on the tree every year as a testimony to their faithfulness and hard work.
There is the favor from my friend Dawn’s wedding. I don’t think she meant for it to be a Christmas ornament, but I’ve always used it as one and pray for her family each year when I place it on the tree.
There’s the ornament that is still stored in the box with my Grandma Polly’s handwriting on it, and the reminders of why Christmas is so important.
My Christmas tree may not take your breath away. It may not astound you with its beauty. But it tells a story about who I am and how I got to be this person. And I love my tree, even if it is a tiny bit crooked.