When I was little, I always had a small Christmas tree that we’d put up in my bedroom. I’d decorate it myself each year with the wide array f Christmas ornaments I started to collect. This year my mom asked me if I’d like her to put up the tree for me me so that I could decorate it when I came home for the holidays. Of course, I said yes, and as I went through the ornaments, deciding which ones to put up, I felt like I was unpacking my childhood.
Before me was a whole boxful of ornaments, and among them, you could really see different phases of my life- the Disney princess phase, the puppy phase, the Harry Potter phase… My mom poked her head in to see how I was doing and said, “You’ve got a nice little collection going there.”
I started to think about when I have my own place and my own family. How these ornaments on this little baby tree in my childhood bedroom will be the ornaments that I take with me. Some of them will probably find their way to my husband’s and my first Christmas tree. Until they get phased out in turn by “Our First Christmas” ornaments and “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments and little handmade ornaments that came home from kindergarten.
You see, the thing about ornaments is they always mean something. Even the character ones we buy from the Hallmark store. We buy them because they say something to us or about us. They’re always telling our story.
And so, our collection grows. New ones replace old ones- they take turns making appearances. We pass them down. Every year our tree looks a little bit different, but every bit as beautiful- a reflection of our ever-changing story, a snapshot of that year.
When it comes to Christmas, the ultimate symbol of family (other than the Holy Family, of course) is the tree. Not the giving of gifts, no going to Mass (that’s about Jesus, the reason for the season), but the tree. Because a Christmas tree is meant to be put up by the family. It’s a perfect time for families to relax, have fun, and spend time together. To hang up those ornaments that tell their story.
We all know that Christmas changes as we grow older. Different things about the season resonate with us. I’ve always loved decorating the Christmas tree because it was fun. Now I love doing it because it’s meaningful.
May your Christmas trees be as meaningful as they are beautiful.