Mom grew up during the Depression, so she wasn't very nostalgic about old things. To her, things that were worn out needed to be replaced with shiny new things, so most of the ornaments of my early childhood disappeared when she passed into her "designer tree" period. Her house was always gorgeous at Christmas, but it was the kind of gorgeous you see in a Macy's window ... perfectly coordinated and themed. One year she decorated her tree with big white lights that looked like snowballs, white frosted glass balls and white silk poinsettias. The ornaments I inherited were her last "hurrah," so my first Christmas tree after she died was decorated with her things. The balls were a sort of stained glass montage of purple, blue and magenta in various shapes and sizes, and I was thrilled to find some very fluffy tinsel garland in the exact colors. When the whole thing was assembled it resembled nothing so much as a seven-foot-tall drag queen! Loved it!
However ... it's not really my style. I like old things, homemade things and a more rustic theme for Christmas. Instead of ornaments, I have a lot of memories tied up in the things I set around and decorate with, like the porcelain Santa my sister sent me nearly 20 years ago, and the ceramic Christmas village I painted a few years ago to put under the tree.
The one ornament I own that's precious to me is a tiny blue wooden angel less than an inch tall. Her paper wings are covered in silver glitter and her halo is pretty askew, but I've had her since I was six years old, so some wear-and-tear is to be expected. She was a gift from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Huey, and she came in a little red paper box that looked like a drum. I always hang her where I can see her on the tree, and she's always the first ornament I take off and put away so she won't get lost. I really loved Mrs. Huey! She was the kind of teacher you never forget, and I don't doubt for a minute that she was instrumental in the fact that I liked school and looked forward to it every September. I realize she gave little gifts to all her students, year after year, but I can still remember how special that gift made me feel.
So it's been a good day ... decorating the house, decorating the tree, stories and laughter, Katie and her boyfriend painting Christmas ornaments around the table ... all the memories of holidays past, the happiness of holidays present and the hope for holidays to come.