The Reality Tree

I am not a fan of the holidays. I think I’ve made that clear. I do love one holiday tradition, though. Last year, after we bought our pandemic house, we bought a pandemic Christmas tree to match the new house. It’s not the 9 foot tree or the lights on the tree that make me happy. It’s the ornaments Steve and I have collected and curated over the past 26 and a half years. Some were gifts from friends. Some we bought to remember trips or events. Some the boys picked out.

My favorites are the ones we had personalized for our family members. Each of us have our own ornament on the tree. We have one too for each of the pets we have had. And each time I put those ornaments on the tree it’s a walk down memory lane. It makes our tree ours. And every night when I light the tree and sit and look at these ornaments, I see my life, not the life I was given, but the life I built for myself. Every ornament, from the wooden sea turtle we purchased in Kauai to the silver camper I gave Steve to represent our Airstream dreams to the ornament our friends had made that looks exactly like our Ruby dog, makes me happy. The tree as a whole is a representation of my life now, and as I look at it I feel proud and grateful.

The stress of the holidays, the over-the-top and unnecessary shopping, the gift wrapping, the obligations, all of it I could do without. But the tree, the tree I like because it is the antithesis of the holiday insanity. It is home and heart and love and history. It grounds me when everything else is swirling like December snow. It’s my anchor to what is real.


  1. Every year we went to the tree farm to cut our own, except for a few years we bought one from daughter’s farm because she was selling them.
    The tree stand is a solid steel antique. The candelabras, too. Chromey gold plastic with unpolarized plugs and ceramic sockets, with C7 light bulbs.
    There is a Christmas box in which I have placed the most cherished items. The tuna can with a photo of Ryan in kindergarten, dressed with lace and ribbons, to hang on the tree. A door stopper; Santa sleeping in a chair with a Scotty dog beside him. It belonged to my wife’s father, and she saw it for every Christmas of her life.
    The DIY ornament crammed with cutout photos of 6 heads, dated 1983. (Kerry does not prefer that one because she is not on it, having yet to be born)
    I keep these separated from the rest of the closetful of decorations, in this little box, so that my children may easily find them when I pass on. In the lid of the box I have inscribed:
    “These are a few of my favorite things.”

    Merry Christmas!


    1. We used to cut down our own trees too, then we discovered that my oldest son and I were miserable from pine allergies so we had to stop. I love that you have a box with your most cherished items. That is a great idea. Perhaps Steve and I will do something similar. Wishing you peace and comfort this Christmas.


  2. I love the Christmas tree ornament tradition,  and started it in my own home years ago, decorating the tree is an afternoon trip down memory lane. I also found that gifting  family and friends an ornament that marks  a  special milestone in their life to be a great memorable gift that they will cherish for years. 

    1. We each have our own ornament because that is what they did on Days of Our Lives that my mom watched when we were kids and it always stuck. And I agree about marking special milestones with an ornament because it is a great reminder. 😊

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