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Christmas Tree Ornaments & the Stories They Tell

Do you put up a Christmas tree? I love how everyone goes about decorating a Christmas tree differently. First of all, there’s the tree itself. Real or permanent. I don’t like referring to my tree as artificial, sounds too, well, artificial, right? I’ve bounced back and forth over the years. These days I have one of each.

Next, there are the lights. Some of us prefer white lights. Some of us prefer the colored-lights look. Some people use LED lights, some hold out and keep using the old-fashioned ones. Some don their tree with gigantic glass balls. Others prefer a more petite, delicate look. Still others deck their trees out all in silver, blue, gold or whatever color strikes their fancy. Some actually have trees with themes. And some of us decorate in a hodge podge, more unorganized sort of fashion.

As you might have guessed, I do the latter. This fits with my rather unorganized personality I guess. Never really thought about that connection until this moment…

I still cling to the colored-lights look for no other reason than it reminds me of my childhood. When I was growing up, we always had a real tree decorated with the old-fashioned big colored bulbs that got very hot. Rather dangerous when you think about it. And then there was tinsel. And more tinsel. I think you have to be of a certain age to remember tinsel. 

And then there are the ornaments.

I love how decorating my Christmas tree each year is more or less a trip down memory lane. Opening that box full of ornaments is like becoming reacquainted with myself. I find bits of pieces of my life I had forgotten about or tucked away.

I love how each ornament tells a story, don’t you?

I won’t bore you with too many ornaments and too many stories, but I thought it might be fun to share a few.

There’s my oldest ornament I made when I was eight or nine when my grandparents were visiting. I still remember sitting around the kitchen table working on our kits of ornaments. I sat there struggling to sew on those darn sequins. A sewer I was not. Ever. But I was determined. I still can be.

Christmas Tree Ornaments & the Stories They TellStill hanging together after all these years!

There’s the box of glass balls I picked out at Shopko that first Christmas after Dear Hubby and I were married. (Yeah, I know I skipped a lot of years, but remember, I don’t want to bore you to death). Only one of those magical little glass balls has been broken in all these years. And they are still the very first ornaments that go on the tree every single year.

Ornaments & the stories they tellFrom my Shopko, newlywed collection

Then, there are the various ornaments I received from my students through the years, like the one from that kid who caused me so much angst, but nonetheless – maybe even because he did, was just so darn lovable. And the hand-made ornament from the sweetest little girl who was that angelic student teachers mostly dream about having in their classrooms, but sometimes actually do.

#Christmas Tree Ornaments & the Stories They TellFrom one of my sweetest students ever. Her name was Gail. Wonder what she’s up to these days…

And, of course, there are the ornaments representing the years when my kids were little, the hand-painted, glued together, special little trinkets and treasures that are still somehow managing to hold together.

#Christmas tree ornaments & the stories they tell

Hand painted by dear daughter & not broken yet!

There are the one or two ornaments that came from my grandmother’s collection. I wonder what happened to all the others…

Christmas tree ornaments & the stories they tellFrom my grandmother’s ornament collection

There are the ornaments my mother gave me. I got one every single year, in fact, some years I got more than one. So there’s a lot of those.

Christmas Tree Ornaments & the Stories They TellOne of many I received from my mother

And there are the ones I bought as souvenirs on various family vacations we have taken over the years.

Christmas tree ornaments & the stories they tellGuess you can tell where we went on two of those family vacations

And now, there are the ornaments I’ve started to retrieve from my mother’s collection. My sisters, brother and I have begun sorting through boxes and boxes of Christmas decor she had accumulated. Some of the ornaments were given to her by me. They were lovingly chosen, picked out just for her. And now they’re back in my hands again. Or rather, on my tree.

Christmas ornaments & the stories they tell

It’s like the decorating has come full circle or something.

It’s all about nostalgia.

It’s all about remembering.

It’s all about the story each ornament tells.

It’s all about family.

It’s all about love.



One I gave to my mother & now it’s on my tree.

Do you put up a tree?

Are you a white lights or colored lights sort of person?

Do you have a special ornament (or other holiday decoration) you feel nostalgic about?


Christmas Tree Ornaments & the Stories They Tell

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Joyce Josephson

Saturday 12th of December 2015

Nancy, your tree is beautiful and so are your ornaments and stories. We have ornaments from my husband's mother and grandmother's collections, ornaments bought on vacations, glass ornaments, handmade ornaments we received as gifts, ones made by my son or for him. The list can go on and on. Each year I unwrap them like presents of memories.


Monday 14th of December 2015

Joyce, Thank you so much. Sounds like you have some lovely ornaments and memories as well. Presents of memories for sure.

Beth L. Gainer

Thursday 10th of December 2015


I love this post and all the pictures! Thank you for taking us down memory lane with you. I love the ornament you made as an eight-year-old. I can't sew either, but your ornament is really well-done. I love all your other ornaments, too. Being Jewish, I didn't grow up with Christmas trees, but I surely always loved the decorations on others' trees and homes. My brother and I would always have "contests" as to which house looked the nicest!

That's amazing that Ninja leaves your ornaments alone. I have two great cats, but my 16-year-old geriatric kitty gets kitteny wild and I'm sure would be into some trouble. My Ninja lookalike would be up to no good, I'm sure.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories of Christmases past. May your present and future Christmases be wonderful!


Monday 14th of December 2015

Beth, Thank you for taking the little trip down memory lane with me. It is pretty amazing that Ninja leaves the tree and ornaments alone. Once in a while she hides under the tree, but that's about it, so far anyway! Thank you for your kind words and for the holiday wishes too. xx


Wednesday 9th of December 2015

Nancy, these are very sweet stories. Your tree and ornaments look beautiful. I am glad you still have them -- such nice memories.

I haven't put up a Christmas tree in years. Last year I bought a small one with lights. It made me smile. This year I'm planning to buy a real tree. I don't have that many ornaments but those I have are very special to me. I can tell you a story about one of them: the Coqui ornament. A co-worker from a previous job had given it to me. She is from Puerto Rico. They believe the coqui frog is full of luck. So I decided to test its luck by placing it at the very bottom of my tree to see if my cat Nelly would get it. The frog has lights that make sounds and cats would love to play with it. Trust me, my cat has broken a lot of ornaments. I placed this ornament at the bottom of the tree for three years in a row. My cat never got to it! I guess he is a lucky frog after all.

Thank you for sharing your memories.


Thursday 10th of December 2015

Rebecca, I do have many wonderful memories, that's for sure. I hope you do put up a tree this year, we can all use more smiles. Thank you for sharing about your Coqui ornament, what a great story. It's funny what cats do and do not choose to play with. Our Ninja pretty much leaves the tree and ornaments alone, which is surprising. Cats like to keep us guessing!

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