I LOVE Christmas. As a result, I've celebrated it almost every year since I left home in 2001 (the first Christmas I lived in a place where it was reasonable to celebrate - my sophomore year of college). Over the years since, I've gathered a fair few ornaments, too. However, I've suffered some sad reverses. In 2006, I got a tree and even decorated it, but at the time I was involved in an interpersonal situation that was making me very sad (I broke up with a fiancee and boyfriend of 5 years in April, 2006, and it gets more complicated from there...) and I remember decorating the tree by myself and crying (even my friend and my roommate were in the other room...I was so afraid they'd see me!). That night was saved by a phone call from a friend and going to see "Casino Royale," but the memories are still there. In 2007, life was much, much better, but I had just returned from a four month trip to Japan on December 10th, didn't have an apartment (though I did end up signing the lease before Christmas and moving in on the 27th or some such) and all my belongings (including my ornaments!) were in a storage unit in Indiana (while I was in New York). In 2008, I had just moved AGAIN, and we spent most of the time before Christmas in Texas with family. Last year, I had once again moved (it was a theme for a while) and furthermore, my ornaments were in storage while I prayed that they and my other belongings didn't have bed bugs any more.
All of which is to say, I hadn't had a really satisfying Christmas in my own home since 2005. I hadn't pulled out my ornaments since 2006 (which was when I separated out a few of the ex's favorites and game them back).
This had to change!!
Now, my apartment is tiny. I had decided I'd get the standard Charlie Brown Christmas tree, when my mom suggested I get one in a pot. At first I said no - I'd already decided not to - where would I put it after Christmas? It's not like I can plant it outside! But as I realized I didn't have a place even for a Charlie Brown tree, I finally decided to go out and get myself a little spruce in a pot.
It was a hard tree to decorate. It's quite small, and the branches are very thin, but I managed to get a string of lights around it, and I picked out some of my favorite ornaments that I wouldn't wouldn't strain the branches, and hung them around.
When I opened the crate of ornaments for the first time in years, a few surprises awaited me. The only unpleasant one was that there were three casualties - three broken glass orbs - but really, when I think about how I stored them and all the moving that crate has been through, I'm actually prepared to call that a miracle of good fortunate. None of the ones that mattered were broken. Another surprise was how many new ornaments there were. Just cause I didn't have a tree didn't mean I hadn't been buying ornaments, and many I'd just shoved in the crate. I'd forgotten what I'd picked up - I even found a couple doubles!! The best surprise, though, were a group of ornaments that I had forgotten were in my possession.
Most of my ornaments are new. My really well loved childhood ornaments are all still with my mother's collection. Or so I thought! I had managed to completely forget that at some point in the last few years, my father had given me a few from his collection (divorced parents, two Christmases, two Christmas trees, two sets of ornies...) Specifically, he had given me the ornaments I made, like the one above. We only saw him on weekends, but once in a rare while he would drive us to a store somewhere in Jersey (I think it was hella inconvenient) and let me pick out an ornament kit to make. All in all, I finished three or four (and then stalled on one and never made another til I was an adult). My memory is that this one is the oldest, and seeing it there amongst my crate of random ornaments just brought tears to my eyes. It wasn't right for the tree, but fortunately I had one ornament stand!
The ornaments I collect tend to fall in to pretty much six basic categories: pretty, cute, geeky, snowmen, moose, gifts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the gifts are generally the dearest to me, and several of them ended up on the tree.
The flamingo was a gift from my dad one of my first years on my own. My ex hated it, but I thought it was hilarious, and it's been on every tree since.
My mom got me this one while she was in Germany a few years ago. I've never gotten to hang it before, though the last two years I put it out on top a book case. I've kept it very carefully in it's own place since she gave it to me so I wouldn't lose it; I was SO happy to finally get to hang it, cause I really love it.
Another ornament my ex thought absurd (he felt that Christmas tree ornaments should in some way be related to Christmas...), this is a peacock ornament with a long feather tail (take a peak at this other picture) that clips on. I made it the "star" of my tree this year. For a few years my dad was doing grab bag gift exchanges with the all of us who come to Christmas. I never found out who contributed this and another ornament (in a different pic that'll be below) but I traded to get them because I really liked them.
The next ornament transitions to another category, as it is a moose that was also a gift. (though I've no memory who it's from)
I'm sure you all have noticed that there are some really ridiculously ugly ornaments in the world. For some reason, I find these absurdities to be oddly compelling, and finally in 2004 I gave in to my desire to start to collect them, but only under a certain condition: I could buy any ornament, no matter how tacky, hideous, or ugly, as long as it was of a moose. Now, this has actually proved to be a challenge. There aren't that many moose ornaments out there, and differentiating them from the reindeer ornaments often involves careful deliberation! But I've managed to put together a fair collection nonetheless. I love hanging them all. :) Some of them are actually lovely, but others really are awful. This one was a gift - I think from my mom - and I'm rather fond of it (and don't think it's awful at all!) And yes, there are reasons I chose moose, but this post is already getting wordy. ;) I didn't hang any other moose on the tree - most of them are large, heavy ornaments that just wouldn't do.
I also love snowman ornaments, though I didn't set out to collect them intentionally.
This was an ornament I fell in love with, and I remember the story behind it with a feeling of emotional immediacy yet find I'm completely unable to put any of it in to words, probably because I don't remember where or when, but I remember who and how I felt. So he went on the tree, and the rest goes unshared. :)
I have no memory at all of where this one came from, but isn't he cute? :)
A few pretty ornaments made it on to the tree, too.
Finding this ornament was a shock. I know exactly when and where I got it, and I remember the two other things I bought there, but I had no memory of buying this ornament for myself. The other two were gifts - a vase for my mom, earrings for my sis-in-law - and I really loved this persons were (they were a craftswoman at a fair in Bloomington, IN) so I was really happy and surprised to see I'd gotten this gift for myself, too - a gift in truth, given how completely I'd forgotten. :)
The moon is one of my favorites. I identify strongly with the night sky. Down below you can see a dinosaur ornament - it's actually Sue, the T-Rex at the Field Museum in Chicago (I probably got it when I was there last holiday season, though I don't remember doing so) - I have a small collection of almost every dinosaur ornament I've been able to track down. :)
Last are the geeky ornaments, almost none of which I hung. My ex and I are both huge geeks, so we would go to Hallmark after Christmas each year and get as many of the geek-themed ornaments as we could find (Star Trek, Harry Potter, Star Wars, comic book characters, that kind of thing). I had to put up Spidey.
Our first Christmas together, in 2001, we were damn broke, but I wanted to do something for Christmas, so we bought a few ornaments. One of them was a Spiderman carrying gifts. Turns out, Walmart sells one like this pretty much every year, and we ended up with one each year (all so similar that I couldn't say which was from when). When we broke up, I gave him some of them, and kept some for myself. I don't know, it's not that I miss him - I don't (I did the breaking up, it was a great decision, and he's now happily married to someone else; hard feelings at this point are only in jest) - but somehow it no longer feels like a Christmas tree if it doesn't have Spidey on it. :) Guess that's just how life is sometimes.
Anyway, I also had a few ornaments that were too heavy for the tree that I wanted out, so I made a little display on my bookcase.
There's the other bird I got as a gift (her crown just fell off :( ), an ornament of a snowman dressed as a moose (clearly designed just for me!), a baseball playing penguin, and an ornie of a snowman and a moose on a sled (though the moose part isn't visible in this shot) - on the lower left you can see a little of an ornament of a moose with a halo and angel wings. :)
So that's my Christmas! My mom and I talked it over, and before next year I'm going to take into my care a couple of the ornaments in her collection that mean the most to me - one in particular, which was given to me by a family friend when I was a girl, she has no particular attachment to is probably my single most precious ornament, I'll definitely get back, it's an antique and depicts a sweet rocking horse. There are plenty of others, though I'm sure she'll want to keep most of them. :) And I'm not going to take any of them until I have a safer way to store them all - something I can't afford just yet but will definitely get this year.
I'm very late on this post - I meant to post right at Christmas, and got the pictures ready and everything - but then just didn't get it together while I was away. But better late than never. Merry very belated Christmas, everyone. :)