This Year’s Tree
My flat is small and fairly full of furniture and “stuff”, so Christmas trees are difficult to house. In previous years I’ve kept a 3-foot tree with sentimental ornaments, but this year I couldn’t even find it in the storage room. This little tree, 2-foot (if that), was a table decoration for Connection Cafe last year, and it seemed an adequate substitute. I’ve rather enjoyed it, in fact. And though it has little to offer and cannot support regular ornaments, it’s really not such a bad little tree.
When I was a teenager, my parents purchased a series of ornaments based on cultures around the world, and when my sisters and I began to divide amongst ourselves, I chose these first two ornaments to keep. I think they represent Norway and China. There is nothing special about them specifically, but they are sentimental to me. And that makes me smile every year when I pull them out of the box.
The third ornament, this little chimney sweep, came from a seasonal shop in Midway Mall, Sherman, where I worked for a time after college. The shop contained all manner of gifts from Bavaria, and I fell in love with this ornament as soon as I saw him. He reminds me of Mary Poppins, and that always makes me happy. Though it’s not terribly “Christmasey”, this ornament is one of my very favorites.
Little by little I am collecting decorations for my own little home, and I have come to appreciate them more and more as the years go by. Though I’m not building memories with a family of my own, I do treasure these pieces and always enjoy setting them up at Christmastime.
This village is one of the miniature versions but really creates a mood when set up on a small bookshelf. I would like to add to them eventually when there is more space, but right now I look at this scene and picture a small town Christmas where everyone knows each other and celebrates the season as a community. Like Whoville, without the Grinch.
The nativity scene shown below is not the one from my childhood, though I still own that gem, but rather is a ceramic set that my grandmother always intended to complete. After her death, my mom found it in a box of unfinished pieces and decided it would be perfectly beautiful if it was simply glazed instead of painted in detail. The finished set took our breath away, and I was the fortunate one who got to keep it. To make it pop, I use sparkled navy felt on the wall behind the scene, which helps take your mind to that blessed night so long ago.
And the following three figures are my favorite pieces purchased on my own through the years. First is the only “Santa” item I own, one that evokes Father Christmas rather than a jolly ole dude. I find it much more suited to the spirit of Christmas and love this depiction more than any others I’ve seen because of the lantern he is holding and the zebra at his feet. This is my idea of that benevolent soul of long ago.
The other two images are indicative of my personal brand of humor, more Seussian than traditional. I especially love the trio of Trees for the absolute joy they convey. Give me a holiday that is slightly off-kilter and that is a perfect time.
Growing up, my family always spent Christmas Eve with a few specific foods and huddled around a game board. Now that my sisters and I are grown, we’ve tailored this tradition to our own tastes but have kept many of the same foods in the mix. Though vastly different, the two items pictured here represent my entire life. My earliest Christmas Eve memories always include these triple stacks of hot dogs, cheddar cubes and pineapple chunks on a toothpick skewer, and they were usually eaten with chips and green onion dip on the side. I’m sure this was originally created to keep the costs down, but we loved them so much that they reappeared year after year. We don’t have it so much anymore, but I always think of these when I think of Christmas Eve.
My mother’s masterpiece is surely this Swedish Tea Ring. She makes it every year during the holidays, and often makes it throughout the year for paying customers. It looks amazing, has a wonderful sweet-bread flavor, and never fails to get rave reviews. My nephews can eat 10 slices in one sitting and come back an hour later for more. It is without a doubt a staple in my family, and it will be a sad day when Mom can no longer make it for us. We cherish these days right now.
Although I try to purchase one new Christmas CD each year, I still pull out the same CDs each November and play them constantly throughout the holidays. Many favorites have emerged, but these are the ones that I love the most. My taste in music has always been quite varied, and this group is a perfect reflection.
Diana Krall, Christmas Songs / Christina Aguilera, My Kind of Christmas / Kenny Loggins, December / Sarah McLachlan, Wintersong
Linda Eder, Christmas Stays the Same / SHeDAISY, Brand New Year / MercyME, The Christmas Sessions / Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas
It’s simply not Christmas for me without visits to Bedford Falls, the Peanuts Gang and those Miser Brothers.
I pull these books out each year to remind me of the joys that can be found during the hectic days of the season.
My friend Susan made this cross for me one year and it has become my most treasured gift. Not only was it tailored to the colors in my home, but it was made with much care and many scratches on her hands from bending the wire. The cross hangs in my living room and is a constant reminder of Susan and her friendship.
These are the best kinds of gifts.