Our Lives in Ornaments: Continuing my Mother’s Christmas tradition of a new ornament each year to represent the past year of our lives.
Decorating our Christmas tree is one of our favorite parts of the Christmas season. I have my Mom to thank for a big part of that. Starting with my very first Christmas as a 6 month old baby, my Mom has given me a new ornament each Christmas to represent the past year of my life.
When I turned 22, she didn’t give me an ornament and I was totally bummed. She asked me how long I expected her to keep getting me ornaments. I told her that I thought I would get ornaments from her forever and ever. She continued the tradition, which I’m pretty sure she still enjoys. (At least, I hope so).
When Paddy and I moved in together, she began getting ornaments for the two of us with our shared adventures in mind. Whenever we travel now, we also try to find a Christmas ornament from the country we’re visiting to add to our collection of dangling memories.
Decorating the tree each year is a trip down memory lane. We have a huge collection of ornaments now and the majority of them are meaningful. I won’t bore you with all of them, but here are a few of my favorites:
There’s the Washington State Ferry to represent growing up in Friday Harbor, WA
There is the school bus ornament from first grade when I rode the school bus for the first time all by myself. And the piano from when I took piano lessons in elementary school.
Then there’s the bicycle ornament from 5th grade when riding my bike around the neighborhood with the neighborhood bike gang was all the rage. I even won a brand new 10 speed in a Sprouse Ritz coloring contest.
And, when the tween years set in and I was constantly tying up my parents’ phone line every night, Mom found me a phone ornament (complete with cute chipmunks)
When I was 15, I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer. My friend’s mother patiently gave me sewing lessons once a week after school. She was very talented. Alas, I was not. I can make curtains and hem pants. Below is the sewing machine ornament representing that year, next to the Christmas alien ornament we bought at the Little A’Le’Inn cafe in Rachel Nevada on our Nevada Road Trip in 2011,
During my junior year of high school, I was an exchange student in Denmark, which is where my travel and adventure fever began. Mom gave me a little money to buy my own ornament so that I could get something to represent my exchange year. My Danish host family spent Christmas at their cabin in Norway, and we had Christmas Eve dinner with their friends in Lillehammer. I bought a Norwegian viking ship ornament. It was an amazing and unique Christmas that I will never forget.
When I was 20, I went to the University of Hawaii for a year in Honolulu on the National Student Exchange Program in college. Mom found a Hawaiian surfing Santa ornament for me.
And here’s the college grad ornament she got me the year I finally graduated:
In 2006 we went on vacation to Oahu, Hawaii and I showed Paddy around the island and neighborhood where I lived in college before we met. We picked out this Santa and Mrs. Claus in Hawaii ornament to represent us when we are old. Hopefully, we’ll be spending our golden years somewhere amazing and happy as well.
Later in 2006 we got our cats as kittens right before Christmas. Mom got us gray and orange kitten ornaments.
It’s hard to believe they were ever so young.
In 2008 we went and visited a friend in Chicago. Mom of course found the perfect ornament for us. Read about our Chicago trip here.
In the summer of 2009, Paddy proposed to me while on a camping trip at Sol Duc Campground in the Olympic National Park. We both love camping and it was a perfect weekend. And yet again, Mom found a great ornament to commemorate our engagement year.
At the end of the summer, we went to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for a week. I found a Dia de los Muertos skull ornament to add to our collection.
In 2010, we got married at my parents’ house in Friday Harbor. It was honestly the best day of my life. Mom came through with our ornament again. (You can read about our honeymoon in French Polynesia here)
In 2012, we went to Ireland, Paddy’s top bucket list destination. We found a claddagh ornament to bring home (which goes with our claddagh wedding rings).
I’m thankful to my Mom for a lot of things, one of them being that she began this tradition for me and continues it for both of us. Every Christmas is a time to reflect on our lives and all of our great memories of adventures past. Had we decided to have children, I would have done the same for them. Thanks Mom.