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  • Writer's pictureTina

Little Traditions

Welcome, dear reader, to the last Monday before the big day. Every morning, my bean updates me on how many days are left until Christmas. As I write to you, gazing at our Christmas tree, I am reminded of Christmases past. Each ornament on our tree is tied to a memory, a phase in our lives, or a gift from a special person. I love our tree, filled with an overabundance of quirky ornaments.

Since I was a child, we have received a Christmas ornament each year. These ornaments have no theme other than what we like, activities we were interested in at the time, or are tied to little anecdotes. I don’t have an ornament from my first Christmas. I’m not sure when this tradition began, but I remember being maybe four or five when we made Christmas balls with our names and the year on them. We each chose our favorite color, and then my mom wrote our name and the year in glue, and we covered the glue in glitter. I remember it being very exciting at the time. Each year after, we each took turns hanging our ball on the tree. Sadly, these inexpensive glass balls have not survived various tree accidents like trees toppling over, curious pets, or overly excited children.

My absolute favorite ornament is a replica antique china doll wearing a red dress. I believe I was six or seven when my mom brought her home from a shopping trip to Monroeville with my Aunt Karen. Now, she is a genuine antique, not just a reproduction. Each year, she hangs in the same spot on our tree, near the top, facing the living room. My bean knows this is my favorite ornament, and she gives me the honor of hanging her in her special spot each year.

I have so many favorite ornaments. Included in this list of favorites are decorations that were gifts from my kindergarten teacher; a red sled with my name on it and a wooden teddy bear with googly eyes, and a red and green bow around its neck with my name on it. Miss Elkin’s dad was a woodworker and made an ornament for every child in her class. This was indeed a labor of love. As an adult and a former teacher, I now understand the time, effort, and care that went into such gifts. That makes them even more special.

I also have handmade ornaments given to me by my Grandma Haney. She would spend the winters in Florida. She and her friends would gather at the rec center in her campground and have craft days. She made my sister and me dog ornaments with googly eyes, a lion made from pom-poms, and wooden soldiers made from clothes pins. These are some of my favorite decorations, and I share their origins with my bean. I hope she will one day hang them on her tree and remember the stories behind them.

I have continued the tradition of giving my bean a special ornament each year. She has several ornaments from her first Christmas. She also has ornaments representing her interests each year, like a piano, a horse, a taekwondo uniform, dance shoes, Eleven from Stranger Things, and special ornaments from our trip to Disney. Each year, she unwraps each ornament from its bubble wrap, remembers the significance of it, and smiles. That smile is what makes my heart happy.

My bean will receive a chocolate chip cookie ornament this year because she loves chocolate chip cookie dough. I got The Bibbed Wonder, a pig ornament, and I bought myself an ornament that looks like my Buster dog. We will hang these ornaments on our tree on Christmas Eve. That is a twist on the tradition that I have added. Each year on Christmas Eve, I gift new Christmas-themed pajamas, slippers, and a new ornament that gets hung on the tree. It’s something we look forward to, and it makes the night a bit more special.

I hope, dear reader, you are looking forward to this memorable holiday. I also hope your holiday is filled with traditions, hope, laughter, and love. Don’t forget to do something that makes you smile and your heart happy. As always, stay safe, be smart, celebrate traditions, create new ones, and of course, keep washing your hands.

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