Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Christmas Tradition – My memory wreath and ornaments

I’ll say it again and again, I love Christmas. It just brings me such warm fuzzies – the decorations, the songs, the giving of gifts, the comforts of home and family.

I usually decorate my home over the Thanksgiving weekend. I like to change things up every year, so I rotate my tree baubles and ribbons and trim for a different theme each year. This year, the tree is all crystal, white and silver with just a touch of blue-green ribbon.

But then, what to do with all those ornaments collected over the years or given to me, or that I create for my family each year (more on that below). Many years ago I started a 3' diameter wreath to hold all those ornaments and mementos. I call it my “Memory Wreath” because just about everything on this heavily trimmed wreath brings a memory - whether funny, sweet, or poignant.

I love putting it up and reminiscing …

I made the stockings for my family the first Christmas after my Mom died and my Dad was already slipping into Alzheimer's. The wooden horse was part of my Godmother's collection that I acquired after she passed away.

I can't believe I made this embroidered ornament 40 years ago, the first year I was married. The ornament has lasted 38 years longer than my marriage did! LOL!  I gave the angels ornament to all my friends and family who nursed me after my first major back surgery in 2000.

 My sister carried this painted egg all the way back from Poland  - don't ask me how it survived the trip! The Texas ornament is from a San Antonio vacation we five sisters took once.

These might be my favorites (and the most fragile). When I look at these I get teary-eyed, and then I laugh!  When I was hosting our family Christmas party, I always tried to come up with some special treat to keep the younger kids occupied until it was time to open presents. These were cookies I baked and iced with Royal Icing, and the kids could draw on them with food safe magic markers and take a supply of cookies home. After everyone left, I went to clean up and found about a dozen cookies like this. That makes me teary. What makes me laugh is that apparently some mice got into my storage and managed to chomp on the cookies.  These slightly chewed cookies are the only two left. I'm happy I was able to not only keep the kids happy but the mice as well!

 I hosted my family’s Christmas party for about 15 years – the one time that we would all get together during the holidays. I finally had to give up hosting duties because the family just grew and grew and grew and my condo seemed to get smaller and smaller and smaller. I so miss hosting; that party gave me the excuse to go crazy with decorating and baking and cooking. That was also when I started making an ornament memento for every family member at the party. It's a tradition I have continued ever since.

I have to admit that since I have to make so many I sometimes take the easy way out by hitting the after-Christmas sales and buying unfinished ornaments for the next year. That’s what I did this year; these wooden stockings and trains are painted with Gallery Glass paint along with glitter paint. I had the glass paint left over from another project, and I liked the thick glossy but transparent effect it gave on the wood.  And ... I'm trying to use up older supplies because I'm running out of storage space!

Everywhere I look in my home brings sweet memories and thoughts of people still in my life or loved ones long gone, but not forgotten.
Here's a few more of my favorites that bring sweet memories.


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