What Does Your Christmas Tree Say About You?

Anyone who has ever visited our house, known us for any length of time or has read this blog for a while knows that we love to fill our home with objects that remind us of important seasons in our life.

In our home we don’t have any art bought from Bed Bath and Beyond. All of our art, except one piece is an original. Most of them we bought them from the artist. Many of our pieces I actually created and the ones I didn’t we usually picked up on our travels. It isn’t just the art thought, EVERYTHING in our house reminds us of a story. This can be dangerous if you ever visit our home, get ready for the tour of a thousand stories….and you though the home movies were bad!

The thing is that we love having reminders in our life. This is why we do the Fall Party each year, why we have a seashells on our mantle from our honeymoon, why we have hundreds of empty wine bottles displayed above our cabinets (each one has a paper attached telling the story of why we opened the bottle). We surround ourselves with memories of the things we love.

christmas tree

I love a beautiful tree, but it doesn't really say anything about us.

It isn’t just reminiscing though. We surround ourselves with the things that remind us of our passions and keep us thinking about how we can achieve the life we want to live in the future. Keeping our goals in front of us all the time is helping us reach them.
Which tells the story better?

So here we are at Christmas, a very meaningful and important time to us. As Christians and as people who love all the activities that go along with this season. We unpack our decorations, including an ever-expanding Dickens Village and Christmas themed martini glasses, both of which have great stories and significance.

Then comes the tree. And until this year I never thought about how our tree doesn’t say anything about us. It looks awesome, if I do say so myself, but it could be directly from a store display. In fact many people have told us that they thought we just bought the display.

I went to a friend’s house for a Christmas ornament Decorating party and her tree blew me away. It was the story of their lives. They had ornaments that represented so many life events and the strive to “scrapbook” their lives through their tree. What a great idea. She has some very unique ornaments:

Tiny oxygen mask that her daughter wore as an infant when she had surgery.

A simple nail from the time her husband shot that nail through his foot and was laid up for a time.

She also has some ornaments from around the world. Places her sister visited. Why don’t I have any of those????

We love buying souvenirs that become decor in our home why not ornaments?

Hand Painted Jamaican Ornament

Wooden Surfboard from Hawaii

Booties from Holland

 

They are starting a new tradition this year to cut a small section off the trunk of their tree, which they cut down out of the forest themselves. They will date and lacquer it to hang on their tree next year.

I have always been proud of our tree, but next year I think we are going to start telling our story through ornaments. I think this is what so many people are trying to do with all the “baby’s first Christmas” and Kids first homemade Christmas ornaments. In the same way…hopefully a bit more creatively, I want our tree to tell our story. The ups and downs and seasons. I want part of our Christmas traditions with our kids to be putting up the ornaments and reliving and retelling our story as we remember and retell the story of Jesus.

What do you put on your tree? Are you using it to build traditions and tell the story of your family? We are going to start.

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12 Comments

Krista English 20-12-2011, 15:06

I too wish I’d started out that way ourselves. What a lovely idea! Right now our tree is telling us, “what are these lights and balls doing on me, I’m an overgrown Camilla Bush and will be blooming soon!” This is the first year we haven’t purchased an indoor fresh tree. Finances meant some cutbacks and timing was good with 2 rascally kittens who would have liked to tell their own story with our tree. Not this year! So the Camilla bush got decked out with the balls and lights, filling our living room window with it’s splendor. It is a store-window to us with no mess and no watering. We’re quite happy with the ease of Xmas this year! Our special story ornaments got hung by fishing wire in front of that window and placed all around the house to make it festive. Also our dolphin sculpture torchiere lamp is bound in white lights with them being in the bowl at hte top. It’s also acting like a Xmas tree I guess. Sorry for posting a blog-length comment in the comments section! Revvved up on Joe’s Coffee Buzz I think!

Monica Vandeventer 20-12-2011, 17:55

Krista,
I love it. You guys are always so imaginative! That is at the heart of this post. Thanks for sharing.
Monica

Elizabeth Glass Turner 20-12-2011, 20:55

Friends of mine have some Jesus-narrative themed ornaments – a little basket they put a smidge of bread in, etc. – and as they read the Christmas story, up goes one of the ornaments onto the tree.

My own tree bears ornaments I made in Kindergarten and on to a beautiful angel my mom gave me. Decorating the tree is indeed like opening a scrapbook and is one of my favorite traditions.

Monica Vandeventer 21-12-2011, 09:58

Elizabeth,
That is awesome. I like the Jesus theme and reading as you put up the ornaments. Having connections to our past is so important, be it distant like Jesus, or more recent like your angel and handmade ornaments.

Nancy & Shawn Power... Inspiring YOU To Travel! 21-12-2011, 09:09

Your home sounds so inviting. It make us want to come over.

Boy, are our lives different though. With no kids of our own (by choice), we decided to give up everything to pursue our passion for travel on a full time bases, so the tree’s we look at are the ones the resorts put up. Which we have to say are quite beautiful.

So for us, it’s the memories and our pictures we treasure the most.

But we do admire you’re search for meaning and how to preserve memories with your family.

Monica Vandeventer 21-12-2011, 09:53

It is a different life, but the same goal. We hope to be full time travelers in the next few years.
You are right about pictures though they are so important! Have you ever looked at Mixbook? That is what we used to “scrapbook” our 6 month road trip. You just need your pics, some time and an internet connection. I love it because it is totally customizable. Check it out.
Merry Christmas to you guys!

Chris Yonushewski 21-12-2011, 23:56

Great post…personally I love Christmas and have great respect and admiration for it. Two things that mean the most to me is my family’s 1940s era christmas village laid out under the tree. Practically our own “Bedford Falls” it includes a ski hill, downtown lake, mainstreet, farms, suburb homes, and of course a Lionel train :). Second is we always get a 7 or 8 foot real tree and outfit it to the nines, complete with dozens of ornaments from vacations, school projects, events in Denver, you name it. Not just from us, but handed down from generations and given to us from friends and family. Both have grown over the years and have come to define Christmas for me. Best wishes to you and your family creating memories for Christmases to come

Monica Vandeventer 22-12-2011, 10:37

Chris,
I am so jealous of your “Bedford Falls”! We have a great start to a Dickens VIllage, but I am always wanting more. ( I would love to see a picture!! Check out today’s post to see ours.
We also had on our agenda this year to add a train around our Christmas tree, but it didn’t pan out.
I love the traditions and passing down the ornaments. Makes for such a rich Christmas time.
Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!!

Clark Vandeventer 23-12-2011, 12:05

Yeah Chris, I’m with Monica! I want to see some pictures! Sounds so cool! Merry Christmas!

Tracey 22-12-2011, 12:44

Oh Monica! Your friend’s tree sounds divine!!! And all of your items that hold memories for you sounds really interesting! Preparing for long term travel will get interesting – how are u going to part with those items that have such significance for you? We had no trouble garage saleing everything because it was all store bought and meant nothing to us. I kept 6 Christmas ornaments that were special and sold the rest of the decs in one big box for $20!! And our giant plastic tree….whilst I wish we had had such significant items at home I’m kinda glad we didn’t. I would have cried over selling or storing them!!

Monica Vandeventer 22-12-2011, 22:25

Tracey,
It is going to be tough. We are especially attached to these memories rght now though because we just got them out of storage. We had all this stuff put away when we were living with my parents. We were just talking about getting a storage unit when we do our round the world trip. I think it is worth paying to store some things, but it is going to be a VERY select few.

Living Outside of the Box 15-12-2012, 19:47

I love the oxygen mask and nail…hysterical! Years ago when we had our store in Alaska, we made good money selling people those “memory” ornaments to people did just this with their tree. A lot of people had the tradition of giving an ornament yearly to their grandchildren, too. We thought it was a great idea…and maybe lasted 3 or 4 years picking up a small number of ornaments. But then…well…it’s all been packed away in a small box for nearly 4 years! Some day it will be fun to pull out, but we’re not adding anything until then, either. :-)
Our family tree growing up was filled with children’s craft ornaments and music-related ornaments that my parents had fallen in love with (we’re a musical family). Every Christmas was DEFINITELY a trip down memory lane!

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