It’s a little bit strange to have a Christmas tree that’s not my parents’ artificial one, sitting in the back of the living room by the piano. It’s odd not to unwrap the old funky ornaments that I made in grade school or the ones with zigzaggy trim that my mom made when my parents were first married. I felt a little disoriented last year without my familiar Christmas surroundings. Now that it’s our second married Christmas, though, I enjoy the feeling that JG and I have started to establish our own little traditions, and it all started with the ornaments.
In the summers between semesters at college, JG and I worked at a summer camp as lifeguards and counselors, where one of the traditions is to have a staff reunion at the annual New Year’s Eve party. Every year, any engaged couples from the course of the year receive an ornament shower to furnish their first Christmas tree, and two years ago, JG and I were the recipients. I appreciated it so much because our tree features the ornaments we received that night and we may not have had many ornaments otherwise. Some of them are pretty generic, but that’s okay – not everyone knew us well. We really like the snowman made up of ice cubes and the Noah’s ark, but we don’t remember who gave them to us. Others are amazingly personal and I have loved unwrapping and hanging them on the tree.
- A miniature, scaled lifeguard chair that one of JG’s eventual groomsmen created just for us
- A chubby moose on skis, based on a joke that JG is a “fat moose”, when he is super-skinny in reality
- A bejeweled glass ornament crafted by a former camper who happens to be an art major
- A handmade collage of scenes from The Emperor’s New Groove, our favorite movie, which we forced our fellow staffers to watch several times
- An “Our First Christmas” picture frame ornament from the other engaged couple that year; we attended their wedding almost exactly a year after our own
With help from our parents, JG and I have supplemented our initial collection with sentimental ornaments from our childhood like JG’s “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament and my building block with my initials. We both love the patchwork tree where it’s all mixing and not really matching – not like those pre-planned trees that you see in catalogues. I like to think that it’s like a photo album that spans all of the years, and it’s always nice to flip through the pictures and recall the fun times.