The tree on the corner of Church and Main in Old Wethersfield.
I love Christmas time. My family is fun to spend time with. Tradition is comforting. Getting gifts for family, though a bit overwhelming, is mostly fun. My favorite part of the season is taking moments to just stop and observe. I love to sit in my living room with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate or hot tea with chocolate and stare at the tree. I love to turn off all the lights and stare at anyone’s tree. Which sounds a little creepy, but normally only people who know me let me in their house to stare. Seeing all the houses aglow and the lights in yards and along streets makes the cold days better. I wish people left their lights on until mid-March. This from a girl who doesn’t put any Christmas lights up, but once someone has, they really should let them linger longer.
This year as we decorated our tree, a tradition I love, I thought about how ornaments began. The Christmas tree came from Germany, and not surprisingly so did the ornament. If we can trust Wikipedia, the earliest ornaments were apples, white candy canes and pastries shaped like stars, hearts and flowers. According to the History Channel, into the 20th century people made their own ornaments, hanging apples, nuts, dyed popcorn, and berries. But around the turn of the century the US started shipping ornaments from Germany. But why, other than it’s pretty or something to do to bring the family together, I still don’t know.
For me, I feel like it’s a good way to stop once a year to remember. Many of my ornaments remind me of a person, a trip, or a major event. They make me smile. They make me long for someone or a time gone by.
One of my favorites is the glass blown wave ornament that led us to our trip to Maho Bay.
A little realtor ornament makes me laugh at the trials and tribulations we went through in order to buy our house.
The pickle on my tree reminds me of my time at the Mark Twain House & Museum. It’s where I bought the ornament and learned the tradition that whoever finds the pickle hidden on the tree gets to open the first present on Christmas morning.
A field hockey player reminds me of high school and my days on a team.
My tree is littered with handmade wooden ornaments that my Pop Pop made. They are adorable. So I think of him and my Nana each time I pull one out to hang on the evergreen.
star wars ornament
Of course any Star Wars ornaments remind me of Matt. Sometimes when he tells me, “I love you” I respond, “I know.” Which it turns out many people think is rude. I always thought it was sweet to let the person who loves you know you feel loved by them. Matt is a Star Wars fan, but I am not. Once I saw that responding with ‘I know’ was a line in Star Wars, I knew it was a respectable response, so I gave these ornaments to Matt.
Igloo ornament (with a Pop Pop ornament in the corner).
The igloo reminds me of how a number of friends, clients and our community came together to make a frigid winter a little brighter. As an unexpected bonus, my grandma came and crawled inside on her 89th birthday.
In our hectic life, once a year it is fun to stop and sift through the memories growing in number on the tree each year. So whatever they meant in the beginning, the ornament, for me, has come to represent a story—one of the many that accumulate during the year and throughout our lives.
Though, if you know why ornaments became popular, please share.
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