For the Love of an Ugly Christmas Tree

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Every year the anticipated moment arrives. Popcorn, snickerdoodles, and frosted angels and stars emerge. Steaming cups of hot chocolate with floating fluffy marshmallows are prepared. Christmas tunes play softly in the background. The boxes of ornaments get opened.

AND…

A totally unique combination of ornaments march their way to the pine branches:

  • felted happy looking gingerbread men and women,
  • a little mouse on skies,
  • a cowboy with a wide-brimmed hat riding a bright red horse,
  • a UNICEF globe that spins as children of the world dance around it, 
  • a smiling three-month-old baby boy  pasted on a juice can lid,
  • a  pair of paper ice skates made by me in the second grade,
  • a man and woman sitting on a sliver of a moon ready to kiss at the pull of a star,
  • a horse-drawn sleigh encased in glass and glittery snow,
  • a glittery popsicle frame holding a smiling family of four

 AND many, many, more ornaments that carry a sentimental story.

After the boxes are empty, only one thing is left to do. Plug it in. Someone dims the living room lights, and in a blink of an eye, the tree emanates light. It’s BEAUTIFUL! We exclaim. But, inside I cringe. It isn’t beautiful. If my kids knew my true feelings, they would be shocked. I think it’s ugly. An outrageous hodge-podge collection of clothed beasts, story-book creatures, traditional Christmas images, grade-school crafts, and vacation memories. Nothing goes together.

No gorgeous Pinterest-themed Christmas tree here. No Farmhouse, Vintage, Gingerbread and Candy Cane, Winter Wonderland or Classic Red Bow and Golden-ball trees for this family. Darth Vader hangs next to the Angel Gabriel. Rudolph soars over Olaf.

I should have known this was my fate when at our first Christmas,  my husband asked me, Where are your ornaments? He then brought out a medium-sized box of childhood ornaments. Many made by his Grandma or crafted in school. Wanting to contribute to the merging of our belongings, I asked my mother, Where are my ornaments? After being slightly taken aback she managed to dig up the paper skates and a little paper drum that had somehow survived twenty years without being crushed.

That first Christmas, we decided to start the tradition of buying or making one ornament together. Fifteen years later, the strange collection of ornaments have grown, as porcelain, Our New Home ornaments joined Baby’s First Christmas. When our kids got a little older, we started to let them pick out a special ornament each year. They will get to take these when they eventually leave our home. (I know I will get a big Thank You from their future spouses someday.) Add these to the ornaments made at school each year and this is how I ended up with mismatched holiday bliss.

But…as Christmas approaches, and  I think of yet another year of an ugly tree. I realize we do have a theme, and maybe the theme makes it beautiful. Our tree is actually a wonderful collection of childhood and family memories, handcrafted or hand-selected. Though it may be unsightly, I think it rightly reflects the miraculous spirit of Christmas. Shhh…at least this is what I am telling myself. 

How about you? How do you decorate your Christmas tree each year?

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