Each year since the year we were engaged, my wife, Cindy, and I have exchanged a Christmas tree ornament as part of our annual tradition. Many people collect and exchange ornaments of various kinds, but we decided to try and find or craft each year an ornament that expressed something of what we had experienced together – something in the year that was particularly meaningful, joyful or memorable.
The ornaments that we exchange are of a wide variety from handmade to store-bought and symbolize all sorts of occasions such as our engagement and marriage and births of our children, anniversaries, various homes and towns in which we have lived, and other significant happenings. There is one to represent the acquiring of our beloved dog, and of our move to Raleigh and of the ice storm we experienced that drove us out of our house for a couple of nights one winter. There are many with pictures of our family through the years. Handcrafted ornaments include one that models in detail the first house in which we lived and another crafted from a unique shell found on a summertime beach vacation. Each December we place the ornaments in the same decorative fabric bags that have held them on our mantle all of these years and exchange them on Christmas Eve.
One of the great things about this tradition is that when the ornaments are unpacked and placed on the tree each year, we remember and retell the significance of each one. The ornaments become a chronicle of family stories and the tree becomes a time capsule. Through this tradition we celebrate our life-long experiences of hope, peace, joy, and certainly love. (This is our 26th year of exchanging ornaments – which means, since we began the year of our engagement, that I imagine there might be an ornament celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year).
P.S. Cindy – don’t read that last parenthetical sentence until after Christmas Eve.
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