We’ve all seen themed Christmas trees. Color-coordinated trees, or beautiful trees covered in ornaments pertaining to a particular subject matter like animals, musical instruments, angels, food, sports….
If that’s your thing, have at it, and have fun with it!
But for me and my family, a Christmas tree should be filled with all things Christmas memories and traditions! Ornaments and decorations that tell the story of our family’s Christmas—past, present, and future. That is why my tree will forever be what some call “Darla’s memory tree.”
Just some of our favorites that show up every year:
The angel on top is made of paper, covered in blue and yellow crayon scribbles, and most recently, started sporting a toothpick taped to the back of her head/neck to hold it upright. Made by my now forty-year-old son when he was two, as he came out of Sunday school class and gifted it to me. I promised it would top my tree forever, and it will!
Three Hallmark® keepsake ornaments which are as fragile as can be, with the same message: First Christmas together, 1980. This is the year John and I were married and they remind me of friends who shared our special day. Their fragility also reminds me to be thankful for another year of a loving, faithful marriage.
An ornately carved ball made of silver plastic makes a chirping sound when it is turned on. It hung on my Granny and Pa’s tree for many years. It reminds me of the scripture, “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)
Three plaster ornaments Granny bought while we were at a craft show the week before my wedding. She said John and I needed something pretty for our first tree. These remind me to think of others and to ‘brighten the corner’ wherever I am, and for whoever I can.
Sheep, snowmen, Santa, and angels—all handmade by women who invested themselves in me. Ginnie, Tessie, Huldah, Shirley, Gloria, Alta, Linda…they took Titus 2:3-5 to heart and taught this younger woman to grow in godliness, to nurture my family, and to use my talents and gifts, to serve God with my whole heart.
Ornaments my children and grandchildren have made. They are priceless, and they remind me of the privilege and honor it was to raise them and that they call me Mom. My grandchildren’s ornaments are proof that our family’s love continues from generation to generation.
There is a clear, crystal heart from my dad. It wasn’t a typical gift from Dad, so that makes it even more special. When I hang it on the tree, I remember how much I loved him, how much he loved me, and that we have a heavenly father who loves us even more.
And finally, 20 years as a youth church director equals a few ornaments from special kiddos. They were the ones I invested in like others invested in me. They remind me that others are watching us.
While themed and professionally crafted Christmas trees are beautiful and a sight to see, my Christmas is celebrating the fact that Jesus was born to make us beautiful from the inside out. And even though my tree is only up for a little while, the memories and reminders hanging from its branches last the whole year through.