Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. Food tastes better if it's served on Christmas plates, or, better yet, if it's shaped like trees or wreaths or sprinkled with red and green sugar. Rooms are cozier in the glow of the Christmas lights. Hot chocolate tastes better in a Christmas mug.
So, I was a little nervous our first Christmas together when my future husband caught a glimpse of what our Christmases would be like. Our families celebrated in similar ways, but in many others, they couldn't be more different. Neither one right or wrong. Just different.
That first Christmas I bought our 'first' ornament. I'm ashamed at how much I spent on it. I won't disclose it here. Let's just say, we're getting our money's worth out of it. When I saw the same one reduced by three-fourths, I snatched it up just in case something happened to the original.
That's how sentimental I am.
That first Christmas, I could tell that he liked the way my family 'did' Christmas. Christmas dishes, hand towels, icicle lights, trudging to the Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect tree, most of all I think he liked the ornaments.
To this day, Momma will not decorate the tree without all us 'kids'- my sister, her soon-to-be-husband, my husband, and me. She refuses to hang a single one because she loves to watch us dig through the boxes and pull out the silly/sweet/sentimental ornaments.
There are the ones I made in Sunday school out of old Christmas cards and glitter. I think I was four. My sister loves to torture me with those. They are hideous.
There's a little stocking with my then three-year-old sister and her wild mane of curls. Delicious!
A paper Bible featuring Luke 2 from my 5th grade year has amazingly held up the test of time, as has my gingerbread man with the glitter and googly eyes from first grade.
Then, there's the Christmas bush. My husband loves to torture my sister with that one. Painted orange with a big, green shrub, he holds it up and sings, "Oh, Christmas bush, Oh Christmas bush!" in his deepest voice. He's done this everyone of our twelve Christmases. She used to loathe that one, but now she sees it as the precious creation that it is made by her young hands.
There's the one with the 'strange baby'. My sister's first Christmas, she received an ornament that says, "Baby's 1st Christmas." We've never bothered to put her picture in there. We just hang it with the 'strange baby' in it. Last year, Momma wanted to put our baby girl's picture in there. We almost staged a revolt. All of us shouted, "NO!" in unison. We had to have the 'strange baby' on the tree. It was tradition.
We laugh until our sides hurt and tears stream down our faces. Momma sits on the couch, the best seat to watch the magic and laughter unfold. We never disappoint.
I suppose that's why every year, my husband and I make it a point to collect ornaments that tell our story and the story of our family.
The first one that was 'ours' has the year of our first Christmas. Since then, we've added many more. So much that I think when we are in our new home, that we will need another tree.
There's the one we bought on our honeymoon. We couldn't find one that said, "Just Married", so we chose the one that says, "New Home." Still appropriate.
Then two years later, when we moved into our very own home, we received two that year that said, "New Home". Those are shaped like little houses with red tin roofs. Treasures.
There's the one from our first trip together to Disney World. It is a Mickey Mouse head with an American flag pattern. We came home with another 'souvenier'- our son.
Three years later, we bought two more sets of ears- a vintage set of ears and a snowman head wearing ears when we took our son to Disney for the first time.
There are ornaments which document our pregnancies with the children- one that says 'expectant parents' and another a stork.
The balls made out of recycled Christmas cards crafted by my husband's grandma.
The chili pepper from our trip to New Orleans.
The pickle from Germany in Epcot.
The red barn "See Rock City" ones from this year- our first vacation as a family of four.
Then we have the funny ones- the thing my sister wove. We're still not sure what that is. (Love you, Sis!) We crack up at the picture of our 20 month old son our first year of MOPS. He did NOT like being away from Momma and the picture tells the tale.
And as we hang each ornament on our own tree, we laugh and remember- the first years we were married, the fun times we've had, vacations we've been on, new homes we've enjoyed, babies we've anticipated.
This is our tenth married Christmas. Finally, our Christmas tree is really beginning to tell our story. And as we hang each ornament, it is not lost on my husband or me that we do so only by God's grace, and we can only celebrate and enjoy this life He has given us because of the most precious Gift of His Son.
His tree gives our tree meaning because His life gives our life purpose.