The Christmas (Memory) Tree


As I unpacked ornaments, decorated and then enjoyed the sparkling beauty of this year’s tree, a theme became quite apparent. Whether glittery, handmade, or purely sentimental, my ornament collection has morphed into a collage of life’s memories.

I noticed one ornament, depicting a winter scene against a satin green backdrop. It is the lone remnant of one of the first set of four purchased as a newlywed couple. Unsteady hands, a swipe of a cat’s claws and even an unfortunate meeting of a glass ornament to the hardwood floor, have since obliterated the other three from the original set.

A small bunny in a highchair excitedly grasping a rattle depicts the important event, Baby’s First Christmas. Personally, this ornament meant the first holiday shared with a blue-eyed angel whose bald head was just beginning to sprout what would later reveal themselves to be multiple golden curls.
Dough ornaments were a tradition I learned to love with my mom. Our enjoyment depicting pets during childhood is a favorite memory, one I continue to enact to this day. A multitude of “dough” pets do indeed inhabit the branches of my evergreen tree.

Our first pet, a tabby cat, known to enjoy walking on a leash, is the first I attempted to craft. Unfortunately, due to my lack of artistic flair, I turned her feline head into one resembling more that of an alien (i.e. ET) than a cat.

Next, I tackled our handsome black and white cat, known as a shy guy in a big furry body. The posture which I chose to depict him, standing with tail erect, resembles one of the less fortunate stances a male cat can take….spraying (unfortunate cat owner’s know what I mean). His bum is conspicuously aimed at a nearby pine branch.

Our last feline, an enormous gold and white female, is mischievous and loves to eat. Her ornament carries a purple toy mouse in her mouth, which is still an appropriate depiction of her to this day. The only oversight is I would need to add more dough to the ornament to accurately display her girth growth over the years.

The addition of a Boston terrier is evident at various points around the tree. Bulging brown eyes (a bit of a caricature, I must admit) stare blatantly my way and never fail to evoke a chuckle.

Throughout the creation of various pet ornaments, I also created different versions of my cherubic baby as he grew into a strong older boy. He always retained his angelic face and personality no matter what his age, which is accurately reflected in each version.

The star topper on the tree has taken on new meaning over the years. It is no longer just a pretty specimen to top a truly personal evergreen specimen. Now, I see it as my special star. It is a representation of someone I truly miss, but also a reminder to see him everywhere, no matter the time of year.

As you pack away ornaments for another year, reflect on what they represented and may represent to you now. In the New Year ahead, look forward to what events may prompt you to add new trinkets to your own memory tree.


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