There are some family traditions that are created through a definitive decision, and intentionally implemented into family culture. There are other family traditions that grow organically through experiences and a multitude of smaller decisions made across a period of time. Our Christmas tree tradition is one of the latter. Here is our story.
When my husband and I were first married we lived in New York City. We were both students at the time, so money was pretty much not available in any kind of significant quantity. I love Christmas trees. Every year I would drag my poor husband through the icy cold of a windy, snowy New York winter to see the tree at Rockefeller Center with me. This particular Christmas, our first as a married couple, we went to Macy’s to look at the Christmas decorations. We went only to look at the Christmas decorations, with no intention to buy any.
On the top floor of the very large Macy’s at 34th Street and 8th Avenue, was a veritable Christmas wonderland with Santa’s workshop, fake snow, and a parade of Christmas trees full decorated with ornaments, angels and stars that you could purchase. One Christmas tree was fully decorated with symbols of New York, including the Statue of Liberty, taxi cabs, and……..pigeons. Yes, that’s right. Pigeons. It was NOT a tree that I liked very much, aside from reminding me of New York City, which I happen to love very much. My husband, however, decided that he really wanted one particular ornament on the tree. The pigeon. The gray pigeon with a bobbly head and I “heart” NY written on the side. I thought it was one of the most hideous things ever. But I loved my husband and so I consented to buying the pigeon, it being the only Christmas ornament we would purchase that year. But there was a deal involved. Next year, I would pick out an ornament to add to our collection.
That is how it started. The next year we had moved to another location, and decided it would be fitting to find a Christmas tree ornament that captured some of the essence of our new home.
We ended up with this little beauty. So instead of our Christmas tree tradition being a taking of turns to add a new ornament, each year we pick an ornament that symbolizes something momentous that happened that year. The general overall look of the tree also was developed to somewhat camouflage the pigeon, blue and silver with highlights of red. I still didn’t like the pigeon and somewhat resented having it on my beautiful Christmas tree.
When we had our first beautiful little baby, we of course had to have an ornament that celebrated her birth. Subsequently, each of our children have their own special ornament on the tree that they get to hang up each year. It celebrates the joyous occasion when they first joined our family. Each child knows which ornament is theirs and loves to find a special place for it on the tree.
In years that we are not moving or having a new baby join our family, we spend a lot more time traveling. We often go on a large international trip or to an exotic location. These family adventures are also all memorialized with their very own Christmas tree ornament. As we decorate our tree each year, each ornament rekindles memories of the various destinations and adventures we have experienced together. We have a lot of fun reminiscing and then discussing where we want to go for our next grand adventure. Here are some of our favorite travel ornaments.
I have come to love this family tradition, which is a log of our traveling adventures and how we have grown as a family. I have even developed some fondness for the pigeon, which somehow started it all.
How do you remember your traveling adventures? What are some of your family’s Christmas traditions?