“On holidays, time stands still.
On holidays, it’s like I’m a child again.
It’s the same laughter and fun and food, the same tree on Christmas with the same ornaments that tell the story of our family.”
The Stories Our Ornaments Tell
The first words of my upcoming family memoir say it well… in our family, the ornaments on our trees tell our stories.
And, I’d wager a guess that nearly every family that celebrates Christmas has a collection of ornaments they have acquired over the decades that tell stories of their family. I know that for us, every single year when it comes time to decorate the tree, it’s like pulling actual memories out of a box when we pick up each ornament.
When I was growing up, my mother would purchase an ornament from each location where we traveled through the year – and so now, on my parents’ tree, there are ornaments from the Great Smoky Mountains to Hilton Head Island and beyond. Each of these ornaments remind us of our trips to each place.
Going further back, there are ornaments that my grandmother gave to us as gifts when she was living. There’s the one she had made for us of my sister and I with little ceramic blonde curls, and one of a candy cane with my family’s names on it from when I was the only child in the mid ’80s. Earlier still, there are salt dough ornaments that my parents made for their tree during the years they were first married. Each one of these holds stories, memories, and value to our family.
Passing Down the Tradition
I inherited my way of decorating my tree from my family. I have been gifted a few of the ornaments that hung on our tree as I was growing up – a salt dough ornament from 1984, the candy cane ornament of my parents and I, and ornaments I made in elementary school, like one little toy soldier. And now, our tree is covered in ornaments my children have made themselves, and we remember each past year as they excitedly hang them on a branch themselves. And as we decorate, we remember.
Sharing the Stories with Kids
So, when you are decorating your Christmas tree, make story and memory a focus of the time. As you pull each ornament out of the dusty box from the attic and hang it on the tree, tell its story to your children. Let them ask questions, and let them tell the stories of the ornaments they remember, or that they made. And each year, create a new ornament or two with your kids, so that your tree grows in memories as the years progress.
A Christmas Ornament Activity
As a special Christmas present, I’ve created a free printable activity for your family. It includes three ornaments for your children to color, and a page where they can write the story and draw a picture of their favorite ornament on your family tree.
You can subscribe below to receive the password to our free resource library, and download your ornament activity there!
For more stories of holiday family traditions, visit the Holiday Potpourri Genealogy Blog Party!