Over the years, the ornaments on the tree have come to represent more than just another shiny bauble in our house.
Early on, before the kids were born, I tried to be one of those women with a theme, or at least a color scheme. I went all gold, and clear glass. Later, I added some wooden white doves. Then the kids were born and the whole thing exploded into a colorful, whimsical, hot mess. My Christmas tree looks like a sloppy cupcake with sprinkles on it, made by a 6-year-old who threw all her favorite toys into the mix.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
I have a few favorites. There is a big, wooden Rat King from the Nutcracker, glorious and splendid, yet fierce and imposing. In my imagination he is King of the Tree, and he commands a place of respect in the middle for all to see.
Then there is the beautiful, blingy, red-and-green cowboy boot, to remind me of where I come from...Texas. Others are the cute, delicate reindeer from New York, a beautiful, handblown glass ornament, also from New York, and I am very fond of the white doves.
There is a purple one from the Tower of London, ornaments shaped like a three-tiered cake and a gold stack of gifts from Santa Fe, and the latest destination ornament is in the shape of George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon.
My daughters have their favorites, too. The youngest loves the big red, peppermint-shaped ones, a cute, glass snowman head with a Santa hat, and another snowman wearing an apron and a chef's hat that reminds her of her Dad.
The older one loves the reindeer from New York, the same glass snowman that her sister loves (I predict drama in a few years because of that), and a little Nutcracker, that we got at the ballet a few years ago. In case you can't tell, we are big Nutcracker fans.
The plan is that when the girls are older and leave home, they can pick a few of their favorites to put on their own tree someday. I usually add a few ornaments every year, but if they don't leave soon I'm going to have to get a bigger tree.
But I saved the best for last. Other favorites are the little bluebird ornaments their granddaddy gave each of them when they were babies, and the picture frame made of popsicle sticks when my oldest was in kindergarten, with her shy, snaggletooth smiling face in the middle. When they were little, one or both of my kids made a rather elaborate paper star cut-out with their picture on it, holding hands and smiling, with sentiments like "best friends" and "together forever" written on it, which brings tears to my eyes and causes them to protest every year when I pull it out. There is a reindeer made of a brown, knit glove, except I think he's missing his head, and the popcorn ornament, made in class by first-graders and some very frazzled mothers who didn't quite know what they were getting into.
It is more than a Christmas tree. It is a memory tree. We are blessed to have it and I look forward to adding to it every year. It will be bittersweet when our one tree becomes three trees, but it will just spread the love all the more in its growing.