Family Ties: Ornaments reflect years of happy memories

2013-12-26T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T12:32:26Z Family Ties: Ornaments reflect years of happy memoriesSarah McKeown Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

We celebrated Christmas Wednesday, but with the festive season still in full swing, why not take a moment to reflect upon some great memories via those beautiful ornaments hanging on your tree? Many of them likely hold unique stories of your family’s history.

When my husband, Shane, 2-year-old son, Zachary, and I decorated our Christmas tree this year, we realized memorable stories are held within many of our ornaments. Unwrapping one decoration after another, I announced what I remembered about specific times in our lives when we bought each of these treasures. Shane shared in the joy as he studied the ornaments, looking at me with a “remember when?” smile.

A lot of the decorations hold a special place in our hearts, as they tell of specific events in our lives. Sharing one memory after another and explaining them to our son while decorating the tree, made for a memorable evening itself.

I held on to multiple holiday knickknacks from my teaching years. I carefully placed a foam s’more snowman on our tree; it was a gift from a student I taught my first year as a second-grade teacher.

I also have a variety of Santa, snowman and ball-shaped ornaments that are teacher-themed. Each brings back warm thoughts of amazing kids I had the pleasure of teaching.

Upon taking several small animal figurines out of a Christmas box, I laughed as I remembered they were the first ornaments Shane and I had as newlyweds. These were followed by a colorful train, bears and two pups, as well as a bride and groom with our wedding date etched into the piece, representing our first Christmas together as husband and wife.

I can’t forget the comical reindeer holding a bow and arrow, representing Cupid. For us, it signifies the Cupid.com website where Shane and I “found each other” in our early 20s.

A couple of Nativity scenes adorn our tree, providing beautiful reminders of Jesus’ birth, the reason for Christmas. There’s a wood Nativity that’s large enough to be a display of its own and another intricately-designed piece painted onto a gold ornament.

Shane and I have some decorations from our childhood that are now perched on our family tree.

An aged Mickey and Minnie ball and a fragile ornament decorated with the well-known “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” movie are some that Shane had when he was young.

And from my childhood home, I took an ornament with a seal on it — I used to be a big fan of the ocean creatures — as well as a bag of tiny trees, icicles and chili peppers, skillfully crafted by retired drama teacher Lela Freiman.

This year, the first ornament to grace the tree was an owl figure, an early Christmas gift for Zachary who is a fan of owls.

Next, our tot watched intently as we handed him different decorations that we both received and bought after he was born. Among them, a “Baby’s First Christmas” picture frame with our sweet boy at only 5 weeks old; a glittery pair of blue baby shoes that my sister Laura delivered to our house while adoring our newborn; and a trio of both snowmen and bears with “proud new parents” etched into the decoration.

Another ornament that provides an abundance of memories is a silver train, engraved with Zachary’s name and birth date. It’s a gift that Shane’s parents brought to the hospital that day our son was born. I can vividly picture those first moments as a new mom.

Since Zachary is excited to help decorate this year, I bought a couple of packs of shatterproof, sparkly round ornaments. Our son had great fun tossing a bowl in which he had placed the balls, then watching them fall out, only to re-find each one to begin his game again. It’s a notable moment we captured on video.

Whether new or old, simple or fancy, many Christmas ornaments tell wonderful stories families can reminisce about year after year.

Sarah McKeown works at a local charter school and lives on the east side with her husband and son. Email her at east@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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