|One of Shannon's Ornaments (I think it's a reindeer)|
My mom's not much better in the kitchen than I am, but she's a little more handy in the arts & crafts department. Sometimes. Other times, her attempts to pretty up Christmas were a little less Martha Stewart and a little more "did your preschooler make that all by herself?".
I remember one year, when we were stationed in England, my baby brother's bottles came with disposable, bell-shaped plastic caps. We made quite a mess when Mom decided we should use glue and glitter to turn those bottle caps into Christmas tree bells. We had days of fun decorating, but I'm not exaggerating when I say we had quite possibly the most unattractive tree in the country that year.
The following Christmas, it was decided we would forego a Christmas tree altogether. Instead, an oversized poster of a wintery mountain forest scene was taped to the wall. We even glued tiny paper ornaments to some of the trees in the picture, but no amount of cheerleading and faux-excited tones of voice could sell us kids on the joy of seeing our gifts plopped in front of a paper mountain range, however, and that was the last year we tried a crafty substitute for a real tree.
There was one homemade ornament idea my mom tried that stuck, however, and it makes me think of all the Christmas trees of my childhood with a warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia. (Except for the paper mountain range trees, of course.) Every year, Mom took our school pictures and rounded off the corners with a pair of scissors. Then, after punching a small hole through the top, she'd thread a short piece of red yarn or ribbon through the hole and knot it into a loop, ready to hang on the tree.
Each year, those pictures were the last ornaments hung on the tree before the star was placed, and each of us hung our own. We always started with the oldest pictures, sighing over how the young ones had grown and laughing at missing front teeth and funny hairstyles. And then we’d add the photos from the current year. It made our tree uniquely ours, and I can still remember the way my mother would sometimes pause as she walked by the tree and touch a fingertip to one of the pictures. You could tell by the shiny eyes and the little smile she was remembering some moment in that year of her child’s life.
It’s the one tradition I’ve brought with me into adulthood, though to be honest, I think I’m a couple of years
behind on pictures. I keep putting the wallet-sized one I hold back for the tree in a “Very Safe Place”. You know how that goes. But there are enough so I catch myself pausing as I walk by the tree to touch a picture of one of my sons and remember a moment in that year of his life.
I hope you all have a wonderful and joyous holiday season full of love and laughter, and I can’t wait to see what recipes are still in store for us. (Hopefully at least a few I actually have the skill to make!)