OK, so I'm rarely in jeopardy, but I write woman-in-jeopardy novels—otherwise called "Modern Gothics"—and this is my blog. It will probably have lots of time between posts, but I'll try not to bore you. Welcome.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Presents on the Tree

The first ornament.
I love Kelly and Marg's Virtual Advent Tour. Last year was my first year taking part in it, and this year I happily signed up again, without any idea of what I was going to write about.

I can, admittedly, be a little obsessive with my holiday rituals—there are certain movies, for instance, without which Christmas simply doesn't feel complete, to me, and certain things I have to put around the house each year, or else it isn't Christmas. But I thought I'd share something that happens in our house that isn't my doing. It's Santa's.

It started the year that my daughter was two. She was an October baby, so that was her third Christmas, and the third time she'd been taken to the mall to visit Santa Claus. But this time, things were different. She was utterly and magically enraptured when she met him, and that whole month of December she kept begging me to go again to see him. And again. We must have stood in line a dozen times or more to see the man in the red suit, and every time was just as magical.

And Christmas morning, on the tree, we found a special present that he'd left just for my daughter: an ornament, that showed another small girl sitting on his knee, in Miracle on 34th Street. And we knew he'd left it as a tangible reminder of the wonder she had felt that year.

And that's how it began.

The next Christmas, when my daughter had a brand new baby brother, we found two new shining ornaments hung on our tree, one for each child, and every year since then it's been the same. Each year the ornaments reflect a special memory of the year gone by—the most important thing each child cared about that year; the thing that made all other things pale by comparison.

The year the first Narnia movie came out, my daughter's room and her imagination were awash with the White Witch and Aslan, and I tripped over toy figurines of the centaurs, the beaver, and kind Mr. Tumnus as I tucked her into her bed to the lullaby tones of the audiobook of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

And Santa brought an ornament.

The year that my son covered all of our carpets in Thomas the Tank Engine trains, so immersed in that world that we drove several  hours to see Thomas in "person", I took to carrying wooden track segments along in my purse when we went anywhere because with a small circle of track and a handful of trains my son kept himself happy for ages.

And Santa brought an ornament.

We each have a "side" of the tree, when we decorate. And every year, when I look at the sides of the tree that belong to my children, their ornaments tell me the history of their lives so far—of the passions they've had, and the moments that meant something to them.

Someday, when they're both grown up with their own trees to decorate, they'll have those ornaments to start them off, and to hold those same memoriesto show them, each Christmas, the way to their childhoods, where they'll find the magic it seems only Santa can bring.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Do you have any ornaments on your tree that hold special memories?


  1. Suzanna - that is so touching it made my heart ache. My children are grown but it's not too late to start this tradition at Nana's house for my grandchildren. Unfortunately several of my 6 grandchildren aren't interested in anything but video games at their age - but maybe I'll go back and fill in the blanks for the years that they had other interests.
    Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful tradition with us.

  2. Thank you for your story! My mom started the same sort of tradition for me. She would make an ornament every year and she would also get me an ornament that had to do with the year. Needless to say I have several years worth of ballerinas from The Nutcracker and Swan Lake (I'm a dancer). I love decorating my tree every year now that at 27 I have so many great memories to share with my own little 3 year old ballerina.

  3. We try and pick up a special ornament every year. :)

  4. I try and buy a new ornament every year, but for some reason it didn't happen last year and this year I am not even sure we are going to put up a tree.

    Thanks so much for sharing your family's ornaments with us!

  5. This is the first year we'll be doing personalized ornaments, and though we probably won't do them every year - it's exciting to create new traditions :-)

    Tanya Patrice

  6. Those are beautiful. My mother-in-law does that for her grand kids and I know they are always interested in what theme for their lives she will choose to honor that year.

    I still have an ornament I made when I was 5 -- a cardboard star covered in tin foil. My mother kept it all those years, I don't have the heart to throw it away now even though the tin foil hasn't fully covered the star in years.

    Joy's Book Blog

  7. I always want to buy an ornament every year, but in the craziness of the year it never seems to happen! Thanks for sharing yours!

  8. Great tradition! I collect an ornament from wherever I travel and I love decorating the tree and reliving all my trips.

  9. That's a fabulous tradition. A Christmas Tree Scrapbook of a sort. Fun.

    Here's my Virtual Advent: Uff da! Norwegian Fattigmands! I hope you will stop by!