Why Christmas Ornaments Mean So Much to Me

Every Christmas ornament my family owns tells a story. Our visit to the Crayola Factory, that time we stumbled upon an antique Christmas shop, the afternoon my toddlers "painted" their own clay ornaments and only wanted to use the color black? Each year when I help my girls carefully unpack our collection of ornaments, it's our tradition to pause to admire every piece, and share its story. Ornaments from my childhood, the first one my husband and I received as a married couple, the ornaments we bought for our little ones' first Christmases. Our collection grows every year, and I love how unwrapping each ornament feels like reading a book about my family's life together.

The practice of unwrapping our ornaments has become a bit frenzied; tissue paper flying, the kids screaming with excitement as each package revealed a forgotten relic from our family history.

I still remember the first Christmas I spent in our first house, shorty after our wedding. The tree was bare, except for the few ornaments my mom had passed down to me from when I was a little girl. Many of those ornaments were broken or worn, but to this day, I can't bring myself to throw them away. These ornaments remind me of my childhood, when I'd awaken on Christmas morning, excitement vibrating throughout my body. I'd rush into the living room to the see if Santa had come, and alas, every year, the gifts under the tree would take my breath away.

The longer my husband and I were married, and as we welcomed a first child of our own, and then a second, our ornament collection grew. Soon we added homemade treasures our daughters created, and trinkets we gathered at the annual Christmas market in our town, or on trips to our favorite place: Disney World! By the time our third child arrived, the practice of unwrapping our ornaments had become a bit frenzied; tissue paper flying, the kids screaming with excitement as each package revealed a forgotten relic from our family history.

Despite the mania, I still ask the girls show me each ornament so I can reflect on where it came from, and what it says about us. A little angel one of my daughters made in preschool, the super cool ornaments grandma sent last year, a faded wooden teddy bear from when I was small, the personalized ornament I ordered with all of our names on a toy soldier, the delicate dog ornament that commemorates our beloved family pet who passed away a few years ago, the precious ornament that features the name of the baby we never got to take home.

Every single ornament tells a story. Some make me smile as I remember a family vacation, or how the taxi ornament from Pottery Barn had to be replaced on the sly because my husband accidentally broke it but we never told the kids. Other ornaments make me feel wistful, like the one for our angel baby, or when a little reindeer I had as a girl is broken, and finally needs to be retired. It can be emotionally exhausting going through our collection, to be sure. Kind of like life; there are highs and lows, memories you'll always cherish, and an unknown future filled with beauty, if you just take the time to notice.