A Family Tree

It is Christmas time. There is no denying it.  The hustle and bustle at all of the stores, the excess traffic and the music.  It is happening whether I want to believe it or not.   I usually try to deny it as long as possible.  But yesterday I gave in.  We got our tree.  And I’m glad we did.


For me, putting up the Christmas tree is always a tradition flooded with memories.  As a kid, the first or second weekend in December our family would drive up an old country road to a farm where we’d choose and cut down our own tree.  Well, we girls drank hot cider while Dad chopped.  Then we’d stop on the way home where  Mom and Dad would get out and cut down pepper berries along the side of the road for mom’s wreaths.  I always went on the hunt for mistletoe and moss in the Oak trees.  And then of course there was the year we had freak snow in California and we almost slid off the road in our family Volvo!

Many of those memories are bittersweet, and there is nothing I can do to keep them at bay this time of year.   There were all those woodland walks Grandma  had us take after Christmas dinner; the year she pointed out the partridge in her backyard pear tree (really!), and then the year she held on for Christmas day and then went on to a better place the day after.  There also was the year all of us teenagers had our annual party at our friend’s family cabin. We played twister through the wee hours of the morning.  Then, a piercing phone ring in the midst of laughter with news of a close friend’s fatal accident.


L to R: ornament made by a friend who was married to an abalone farmer; witch ornament sent from a grade-school pen pal in Norway; hula girl made by my Hawaiian, hula-dancing friend.

All of these things come flooding in as I trim our tree.  Each ornament has a story to tell.


The ticket stub my little sister made and gave to all our family members for an opportunity to see Santa when she was a kid; an ornament she made us a few years ago.

There are the ornaments that Mom started buying for us in 1985.  She wanted my sister and I to choose an ornament each year that we loved, so that we’d have a whole box when we finally moved out and had a place of our own.



When Matt and I started dating, I bought us each an ornament signifying that year.


After we got married, we continued my tradition by getting a new ornament each year, together.


2007: Purchased at Arches Nat’l Park that Autumn; 2008: spent Christmas eve at Red Robin eating bottomless fries and a vanilla shake; 2009: Our Christmas tree that year had a pine cone GROWING in it, so we kept it for years to follow 🙂


2010: The vintage gnome found in a random 3$ craft bag I bought at a thrift shop; 2011: Hand painted glass bird from a local greenhouse gift shop.

Some of my favorite vintage decorations from Grandma Mary.

Some of my favorite vintage decorations from Grandma Mary.

We have a beaded candy cane from our niece, a nativity scene from a trip to Tijuana, “his” and “her” snowmen, quilted ornaments….and the list goes on…


The wreath I made using all the fun stuff Mom and I picked up off the ground at the park when she was visiting.

We don’t have a “match patch” tree, as my friend would call it.  No matching glass balls or “themes”.  The decorations are all little slices of our lives, friendships and families,  illuminated against the sweet scent of  pine. And though we are hundreds of miles from our family this season, they are all right here with us!


One thought on “A Family Tree

  1. You might be surprised how many of our thoughts and memories cross paths . . . thank you for the family tree post.

    Auntie Cheryl

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