The Detective’s Daughter — The Ornaments of Christmas

Kim in Baltimore decking the halls…and every other room!

It has taken me nearly three weeks to decorate our tree. This project began the day after Thanksgiving and our tree is not that big. The problem is me. I need to reminisce over each ornament then find exactly the right place for it to hang. Maybe by Christmas Eve it will be finished.

Growing up in the house in South Baltimore, we had two Christmas trees. One was downstairs in my grandparents’ apartment and the other was upstairs in our apartment. Both were artificial and I was an adult before I realized people could have live trees other than in movies.

Nana had a beautiful silver tree that sat on a table she sometimes gift wrapped. The ornaments were all silver like the tree, but changed colors as the color wheel turned.

Mom’s tree was a traditional green wrapped in colored bubble lights and adorned with ornaments that she and I (and sometimes Daddy) had made. We would sit at the kitchen table and paint wooden gingerbread men, angels and houses. There was also a trio of angels made from feathers. They were my favorites.

As I decorate my own tree I remember all these stories and how each lovely ornament came into my possession. There are the ornaments I was given by my students when I taught Kindergarten, the little things my own children have made, and the ones we’ve collected on our travels. Still, after all these years, it’s the ornaments I have kept from my childhood that truly mean Christmas to me.

I have recently found a beaded lady Nana made and have added that to my tree this year along with a snow-covered house my son bought for me last year. New items to hang beside old favorites. I still have one more box left of ornaments and though my family will say we have enough and the tree looks good, it isn’t finished until all the boxes are empty and the garland is draped over the branches.

I wish each of you a happy holiday season!

Dear readers: Do you have a favorite holiday ornament or tradition? Please share it with us.

21 Thoughts

  1. What a lovely story, Kimberly, and lovely ornaments. The family ornaments are all the more precious because we see them only once a year! Like you, each of my ornaments has a story (and some have names). Christmas magic and a happy New Year!

  2. Like Edith, all my ornaments are favorites and each one has its story. Kim, your tale of still decorating your tree, reminded me that when I was growing up (and I mean to beyond 21): our tree went up Christmas Eve! Until I was 10 or 11, Santa always brought the tree after I was in bed. (My exhausted parents.) Then, one day just before Christmas, while I was at school, Santa brought the tree and put it in water outside and placed all the ornaments in the fire place. We began decorating just after dinner Christmas Eve, with three of us and an artificial tree (replacing the real one in later years) we could finish before mid-night. Memories are a blessings. “Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night”. (Apologies to Reverend Moore for any misquoting.)

      1. Kim, thank you. It is a story written well upon my heart. I don’t feel confident that I could transition it to “paper”.

  3. I have a plastic bin filled with boxes of ornaments. Things my mother gave me when I got married, ones I brought back from the Caribbean, the first glass balls my husband and I bought, things my kids made, things I’ve been given. Each one with a story.

  4. When we were first married we had generic boxes of Christmas balls, but over the years they’ve been replaced with special ornaments like yours. Now we keep just one of those generic balls to remind us of those early Christmases.

    1. It’s all about the memories. When we were first married it seemed my entire family had the same idea to buy us a “First Christmas” ornament. Now it’s sort of a joke that we have so many.

  5. I now let the menfolk decorate the tree, but I have a few favorite ornaments. Most include a photo of our children and made when they were in elementary school. I’ve had to replace a cotton ball a couple of times, but they’ve endured well. My current favorite is one I made myself: a tiny paper art wreath I made from a falling apart copy of the first Harry Potter book.

    1. Your Harry Potter book ornament sounds lovely. I also have school photos of my children on the tree. Years ago someone gave me tiny frames. I’m not sure they were intended to be ornaments, but that became their role at our house.

  6. Long before I started collection Hallmark ornaments, I was collecting ornaments. Since we were kids, my family has been buying ornaments as souvenirs. So the non-Hallmark ornaments on my tree all hold special memories for me. It also makes my tree very eclectic, but I love it.

    1. I am not much of a Hallmark shopper, but about twenty years ago a Hallmark store opened near my house. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving and they had a grand opening celebration. I put my name in for a drawing unsure what the prize would be. I won! I had never won a single thing in my life. The prize was a complete set of ornaments and a star all which lit up. They are beautiful and continue to shine on my tree each year.

  7. My favorite ornaments are the ones my daughter made when she was in school and the many given to me by students when I worked as a school librarian.

      1. My students at one school called me Ms. Dee, because De Felice was too long and unfamiliar to them. I have several ornaments with Ms. Dee on them.

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