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Christmas Ornaments: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Updated on November 27, 2017
Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Artist, Photographer, Designer, Gina believes that the main purpose of the Arts is to enrich lives, making life a more pleasant experience.

Decorating for Christmas

It was just before Thanksgiving and here I was thinking about putting up Christmas decorations. So I enlisted the help of my daughter to get the tree down from the top of her closet. It is one of those pre-lit artificial Christmas trees that we have had now for close to 8 years. It is really is easy to put together. You just stick the pieces together. Some of the lights are beginning to burn out, but unless they are pointed out, you really cannot tell.

I decided to start decorating early for Christmas. I haven’t really been in the Christmas spirit because I am recovering for surgery and need a little extra time and effort to get things done. Fatigue is very difficult to deal with, but we managed to get the tree together.

Ornaments, Ornaments!

The next step was to retrieve the ornaments from their location, in the storage shed. They had been carefully packaged and each one placed into a large plastic container for protection. You see, each of these ornaments have special significance for my family.

We used to do the color coordinating of ornaments the first couple of years, but after a while our handmade and precious ornaments took precedence and began to fill the tree. After a while there was no room for any more ornaments, other than those special to us.

The handmade ornaments, and carefully chosen ornaments on our tree, and every other item hung on that tree has a story, some special memory or meaning for us. I am not able to put some of the handmade stuff on the tree, as they are in need of preservation. These include some paper ornaments made by my now 22 year old son, when he was just a toddler. I don’t want to risk losing those so I will preserve them by laminating them first. At first I was hesitant about doing so because I wanted them in their original state, but I know they will be lost if not laminated.

Here are some of our favorite ornaments on our Christmas tree in our home. It is amazing how you can learn so much about someone just from the stories behind th

Trumpet ornament. The author used to play the trumpet in the High School band as well as a marching band.  She still owns a trumpet, although does not play anymore.
Trumpet ornament. The author used to play the trumpet in the High School band as well as a marching band. She still owns a trumpet, although does not play anymore. | Source
An "S" ornament which my daughter was given by a friend of hers.  It's the first initial of her first name.
An "S" ornament which my daughter was given by a friend of hers. It's the first initial of her first name. | Source
The author is an Artist, and this ornament of clay represents that.
The author is an Artist, and this ornament of clay represents that. | Source
One of my students gave me this ornament as a memory of the Turtle Farm in my native country, Cayman Islands.
One of my students gave me this ornament as a memory of the Turtle Farm in my native country, Cayman Islands. | Source
This ornament is a reminded of so many of our family members who are now angels.
This ornament is a reminded of so many of our family members who are now angels. | Source
Elvis mania is clearly evident on the tree.  There are so many Elvis ornaments, that they could fill a small tree.
Elvis mania is clearly evident on the tree. There are so many Elvis ornaments, that they could fill a small tree. | Source
A few years ago my daughter started to collected Santas.  We have tapered off n those now.
A few years ago my daughter started to collected Santas. We have tapered off n those now. | Source

Do you put up a Christmas Tree?

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History of the Christmas Tree

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows because in many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

Originally called Paradise trees, they were supposed to represent the Garden of Eden.

Check out this short video for an interesting history of the Christmas tree.

While modern day trees have advanced, the thing that has stayed the same is the symbolism that the ornaments play. While most trees don’t have pastries and real flowers as ornaments, they do have expressions of love and celebration.

Santa having some fun in the Cayman Islands
Santa having some fun in the Cayman Islands
Junkanoo festival in Jamaica
Junkanoo festival in Jamaica

A walk down memory lane

Decorating the Christmas tree is like taking a walk down memory lane for us.

Our Christmas tree is like an annual monument to the time we’ve spent together, with each decoration marking a significant life event.

All the ornaments on the tree have a story to tell.

  • Family stories
  • our life experiences
  • the places we go
  • places we traveled to
  • stories about grandparents
  • Santa's arrival
  • family heritage
  • memories of loved ones who have passed on
  • Junkanoo memories
  • A child's nutcracker obsession
  • family vacations
  • the birth of a child
  • our first home
  • favorite movie or show
  • a certain family member’s obsession with Elvis Presley
  • ornaments made by my kids when they were still toddlers
  • gifts given by my former students to remember my hometown
  • an ornament to remember the church that I went to in Grand Cayman
  • ornaments to represent my youngest child’s Chinese heritage, memories of my trumpet playing days, fascination with the faberge egg history
  • my oldest son’s love of nutcrackers
  • angels wings that tell of a very personal experience with them
  • dragonflies
  • lupus butterfly to represent my journey with lupus and chronic illness

They tell the stories of our lives. Each baby, marriage, vacation, and milestone is represented. Our lives are messy jumbles of events and joys and our trees have evolved into reflections of that.

...and so on

As I hang each ornament, I think about each of them and we have them as part of the collection. This Christmas tree with dark green needled branches hold dearly those precious memories that we hang from them, and that we so desperately try to hold onto. Childhood memories, dreams and mysteries. A glimpse of a past we cannot visit, except in our minds and by looking at that small item on the tree. For that small moment we are taken back to a time where we were once a child, or to another age of our own children.

Several years after I was first diagnosed with lupus, I began a regimen of medications that caused me to hallucinate.  I began to see angels everywhere, and wrote about it in a poem.http://hubpages.com/literature/Blessed-By-The-Presence-Of-Angels
Several years after I was first diagnosed with lupus, I began a regimen of medications that caused me to hallucinate. I began to see angels everywhere, and wrote about it in a poem.http://hubpages.com/literature/Blessed-By-The-Presence-Of-Angels | Source

A symbol of resilience and perseverance

This purple butterfly represents my personal journey with lupus and chronic illness.
This purple butterfly represents my personal journey with lupus and chronic illness. | Source
My daughter made this ornament when she was in the 6th grade.
My daughter made this ornament when she was in the 6th grade. | Source
My oldest son made this one when he was in Pre-K.
My oldest son made this one when he was in Pre-K. | Source
Several Chinese ornaments represent my youngest son's heritage.
Several Chinese ornaments represent my youngest son's heritage. | Source
My daughter loves ice-skating and have several ornaments of ice skates on the tree that were given to her.
My daughter loves ice-skating and have several ornaments of ice skates on the tree that were given to her. | Source
I call this one the Church in the Valley to represent the church that I grew up in back home.
I call this one the Church in the Valley to represent the church that I grew up in back home. | Source
Several nutcrackers, varying in sizes, grace the tree.  They are just a small part of the growing collection for my oldest son.
Several nutcrackers, varying in sizes, grace the tree. They are just a small part of the growing collection for my oldest son. | Source

The dragonfly

I am not sure why I love the dragonfly so much, but I have several of them on the tree.

Maybe it's because the dragonfly teaches me several lessons on a daily basis:

to focus on living ‘IN’ the moment

to keep my eyes open

You can read more about the dragonfly here.

My youngest son made this ornament when he was in Kindergarten.  It is simply made from stickers, and we love it.
My youngest son made this ornament when he was in Kindergarten. It is simply made from stickers, and we love it. | Source
The T.A.R.D.I.S. from the popular show Doctor Who.  Yes, I have been watching Doctor Who for about 30 years.  Major Whovian here.
The T.A.R.D.I.S. from the popular show Doctor Who. Yes, I have been watching Doctor Who for about 30 years. Major Whovian here. | Source
The Daalek from Doctor Who.
The Daalek from Doctor Who. | Source
Baby's first Christmas
Baby's first Christmas | Source

Faberge wanna-be

When I taught art, one of the favorite projects was making faux Faberge eggs.  When I saw this ornament, it immediately reminded me of the styke of Karl Faberge.
When I taught art, one of the favorite projects was making faux Faberge eggs. When I saw this ornament, it immediately reminded me of the styke of Karl Faberge. | Source
An ornament made by my oldest son when he was in Kindergarten.  There were macaroni pieces on the original, but they have since fallen off to leave some beautiful impressions.
An ornament made by my oldest son when he was in Kindergarten. There were macaroni pieces on the original, but they have since fallen off to leave some beautiful impressions. | Source
Who doesn't love a beautiful moustache?
Who doesn't love a beautiful moustache? | Source
Just a snapshot of a section of the tree
Just a snapshot of a section of the tree | Source
We have several Manger scenes displayed throughout the house, but there is a miniature one that hangs on the tree reminding us of the reason for the season.
We have several Manger scenes displayed throughout the house, but there is a miniature one that hangs on the tree reminding us of the reason for the season. | Source

My Christmas Wish

Much of the time spent with family this Christmas will have that Christmas tree in the midst. May we never forget just how fleeting that time really is.....and may those moments live very deeply in our hearts and minds, long after the Christmas tree has been taken down and replaced bu the empty space or ordinary items that once occupied that space.

May every corner of the home forever hole the magic of that Christmas tree.

What's your favorite part about Christmas?

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Just a few more....

Baby's third Christmas
Baby's third Christmas | Source
Christmas bell made by my youngest son when he was 4 years old.
Christmas bell made by my youngest son when he was 4 years old. | Source

Merry Christmas, everyone!

© 2016 Gina Welds Hulse

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    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
      Author

      Gina Welds Hulse 17 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Hi Shauna. Wow...59 years old. I think the oldest ornament by my kids so far is 20 years old. It's a goal, then.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      Gina, your tree is beautiful! Our tree is a memory tree as well. Each year, when my son was little, we'd go shopping for his special ornament. It became a ritual and each one holds a dear memory. We even have my very first Christmas stocking that has a special place front and center on the tree. It's green and white striped, has Merry Christmas written in red and is only about 3" tall. The real kicker is it's 59 years old! That just blows my mind, every time I see it.

      Merry Christmas, my friend. I hope you holiday is full of joy and laughter.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
      Author

      Gina Welds Hulse 17 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Awww! Thanks for your sweet words, Venkatachari. Thank you for visiting. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours, as well.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 17 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very beautiful hub revealing your nice emotions, sentiments, beliefs and artistic skills of yourself and your children. Thanks for sharing such a nice hub.

      Wish you and your family "Merry Christmas", "Happy Holidays", and a beautiful healthy life.

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