99 and counting

January 5, 2012
by Holly Becker

img_3024I can tell you exactly how many ornaments were on my Christmas tree this year—99. I know this because I counted them as I removed them from the tree one by one and documented each in a notebook. By each number, I’ve written a description of the ornament, where it came from or who made it, who it was given to and any interesting stories or tidbits of information about the ornament.

For example, I have tiny slingshots that my late grandfather made by hand, and I hang them on the tree as ornaments. I also have ornaments from the places we have vacationed.

There also are special people who have contributed a number of ornaments on our tree. My husband’s aunt makes an ornament for each of our children every Christmas. My friend, who’s husband is in the Navy, sends me unique ornaments from around the world. I want my kids to know these stories and be able to pass them down to their families one day.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not usually an organized person by nature. I do like storytelling though. For me, a Christmas tree is not about creating the most beautiful tree with a bunch of decorative ornaments that have no meaning. I believe that a good family Christmas tree should be filled with stories on each limb.

I can’t take credit for this idea of ornament documentation. I stole it from my friend, Jenna, who shared with me about her ornament journal at a Christmas party a few weeks ago. Her mother kept an ornament journal, and when Jenna grew up, her mom passed along all of Jenna’s ornaments along with the stories behind them. She’s now keeping the tradition going by documenting the new ornaments that her family receives each year.

While it’s taken me three days to take down my tree this week, I believe the late nights and writer’s cramp have been worth it. I’m preserving memories, history and starting a new tradition for my family.

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