The beginnings of holiday cheer

I’m not quite ready to talk about Thanksgiving with the family yet, but today we decorated the living room for Christmas and that was definitely a bright spot.

Ever since my first Christmas, my mom and grandma have bought me yearly ornaments, each labeled with the year of purchase. I still have every single one, and one of my most coveted traditions involves taking them all out of the box with care, noting which year each came from, and spreading them out so that it’s easy to pick when it’s time to put them on the tree. Sadly, there is a ziploc full of very early ornaments – like the ice skater in blue, the girl with yarn hair perched on a swing, or the little toy soldier drumming – that need small repairs. One day I will give them the attention they deserve, so they can find a spot on the tree.

Some of the ornaments are handmade, like the nativity scene painted by my great-grandmother Grace or the crossstitch mittens with the names of each of my pets from my mom. Many of them are from the craft fairs that pop up all over southwest Missouri each fall. The fairs have names like “Apple Butter Makin’ Days,” and for a good portion of my childhood my mom, grandma and I would hit as many of them as we could. In those days I got to pick out my ornaments, which is why I have so many bears and clowns. (My grandfather was a clown with the Shriners, so while other children may fear them, I have a soft spot.) When I moved away from home, the ornaments were mailed in boxes, like the Raggedy Ann and Andy, both riding on gingham stars.

It meant a lot to me that this year I got to share each ornament and its origins with Claire. She was particularly taken with all the angels, and chose the very earliest ornament to place first. Next, she put up a jester on a stick, jingle bells on his hat. Together, we got the job done.

Hanging Christmas Stockings

Claire was giddy with the thought that every animal could have his or her own stocking. We didn’t realize until the end that Joel didn’t have one of his own!

Grandma Shirley's nutcrackers

This weekend I acquired a lot of things from my Grandma Shirley, like these three nutcrackers. My cousin Joe took the fourth, but I’m glad I snagged the rest of the set. Claire loves them.

1975 angel

This is my very first ornament, from 1975. She is light as a feather, and several years ago I had to glue her yarn hair back down.

Christmas ornaments

Sleepy girl from 1978, pink Cadillac Hallmark ornament from around 1998, Santa from 1994, undated bear angel, snowman from 2004, Raggedy Ann from 2000, and Kitty’s undated cross stitch mitten.

Living room with Christmas tree

The rest of the house is still in shambles, but the living room is really coming together. We bought the Mollyjogger wool blanket over the weekend in Missouri.

Posing in front of the Christmas tree

Claire really wanted to pose for this photo, and I still got a fake smile. Since there are only a handful of true smiles of mine caught on film from the last 38 years, I’m not going to bust her chops about it.



  1. Kerri says

    When I first moved to teaching elementary school after teaching high school, the whole Santa thing took me by suprise. At first, I didn’t realize the kids weren’t in on the “wink and nod” thing–they still really believed! That drops off by 3rd or 4th grade or so. My 8-year-old seems pretty convinced, though we don’t go out of our way to perpetuate (we follow the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy). We even had to pull out the Shelf Elf to start his shenanigans.

    • says

      I’m pretty surprised Claire doesn’t have a Shelf Elf, as that sort of thing seems right up her alley. I thought about getting one, and then realized that I would have to be the one to maneuver his adventures, and it just made me tired.

      Tomorrow we’re going to a kid’s Christmas party, and Santa will be there. I dropped a gift off earlier this week, so he’ll give it to her. I can’t wait to see what will happen! (I am less eager for the sledding that is supposed to follow Santa, as it’s ungodly cold.)

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