Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Traditions, Pt. 3

Christmas trees
Growing up in a Jewish home, of course there weren’t Christmas trees. So my first one was my first married Christmas. We didn’t have any decorations at all, so I purchased some white lights, shiny silver balls and thick plaid ribbon to tie into bows on the tree. It was probably my one and only “theme tree” that wasn’t just decorated willy-nilly!

And I do love to admire “theme trees.” Like the ones at Macy’s and the like. You know, the ones that you practically have to have a design degree to put together. Beautiful repetitions of color and pattern. Stunning. Or, the ones I saw recently at the shops at Disneyland, completely decked out in Disney characters – magical. But, I must say, I think my tree is the best of all. Why? Because it is filled with ornaments that reflect our family. I don’t have any matching things or repeating patterns. What I do have are homemade clay ornaments fashioned by small hands and baby Jesus made out of popsicle sticks. Our ornaments represent something from our lives. For example, there are the Cubbies Christmas trees –my personal favorites- pictures of my little Cubbie underneath a felt tree frame, decorated with colored sequins. Then there are the kids’ own ornaments – they are given one each year by Rich and I. There are the ballet slippers from the year Emma took ballet class; the Toy Story figures from the year that movie came out; the wooden baseball bats and pewter baseball gloves representing the years our boys played in leagues; the kittens and puppies from the years we added pets; the flip flops and Tiki man from our trip to Hawaii; each kid's favorite sports teams, like a mini Rams helmet (Drew) and a replica Colts football (Brady). This year the kids each got a small motorcycle ornament as they have both taken up riding dirt bikes. I can tell a story about where we got each ornament and what it stands for. This year, while we were decorating the tree, I asked my kids if they wanted to take their collection of ornaments with them someday when they get married. They both said they did. Honestly, I’m not so sure I like that idea! I want them!

One more thing – we are officially fake tree people now. After years of plopping down $50 or more for a real tree (and coming home with a dried out dud), worrying about water overflow from the tree stand onto our wood floor, and harboring an extreme fire hazard in our home, we made the switch a few years back. But really, it's a GOOD fake tree. If it weren't so perfect in shape, you might think it's real! Although I do miss the smell, I don’t miss the mess, the cost, and the urgency to “get rid of the tree.” You can put it up right after Thanksgiving and enjoy it until clear after New Year’s Day. It's even pre-lit! Thank you, Costco!

A tradition from Rich: The Waterford tree

Some husbands give flowers or candy, jewelry or other romantic things to their wives. Mine gives strictly Waterford. Believe me, I didn’t even KNOW what Waterford was when I met Rich, but oh, he was quite familiar with it. His mom had collected it for years (she even had a Waterford chandelier!). And when we registered for our wedding he didn’t have much of an opinion on anything we picked out but he absolutely knew that he wanted the Waterford Araglin pattern. It’s really quite amusing to me that I married someone who loves delicate crystal and I am someone who pretty much breaks everything I get my hands on. Nice combo!

I guess you could say that it all started with the proposal. When Rich proposed to me, I was presented with a sweet Waterford bud vase with a yellow rose inside (yes, I broke it). Over the years, there have been multiple vases, a photo frame, a letter opener (broke that too), a ring holder, a perfume decanter – all memorable gifts from Rich to me in Waterford. When each of our children was born I was even given a precious Waterford solid baby block. On our first Christmas (while just engaged) he gave me a Waterford ornament. Since then, he has given me one every year. He used to be very clever about it – hiding it around the house. He’d hide it in the freezer and then ask me for some ice cream. Or he’d put it in the medicine cupboard and ask for some Tylenol. One year I think he even forgot where he hid it! This year he just walked up and handed it to me- simple. That’s OK. I treasure each one as they symbolize all the years we have been together. I love to count them all…21 blessed years of celebrating the birth of our Lord together. The Lord has been so good to me!

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