Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season

It’s the season to be jolly!  There’s presents and mistletoe and holly!  But yet, every year, I find myself feeling more melancholy than jolly.  I think it’s a hard time of year for a lot of people – people who have lost loved ones, people who aren’t with their families, people who don’t have anyone.  I know that I’m luckier than many…this weekend I get to go home and celebrate Christmas with my family.  But still those moments of melancholy pop up every now and then – and not just when that thoroughly depressing Christmas Shoes song plays on the radio!
One of the things that always makes me sad is decorating my Christmas tree by myself.  There’s no one to share in the stories or the memories or to climb up the ladder to put the star on top.  It’s just me.  Kinda sad. 
So, I figured I’d do the next best thing and have a virtual tree-trimming party and share all those memories with you!  Grab some nog and join me!  I’ve already done the hard part – the tree’s up and the lights are untangled!
The major theme of my tree seems to be all the places that I’ve traveled to over the years.  There are multiple ornaments from Seattle, an ornament from Victoria, British Columbia, and one from Vancouver.  There’s also the ornament that I got the time that I went to Chicago and met Oprah Oprah’s garage attendant.  There’s the ornament from Boldt Castle which is either in the Thousand Islands or the Thousands Lakes.  I can’t remember which but I do remember that there’s a tragic love story associated with the castle. 
Despite my aversion to zoos, there’s an ornament from the San Diego Zoo.  And one from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway that I visited with my mom and my cousin a few years ago.  My absolute favorite ornament is from that same trip to California – a hand-crafted tiny nativity scene that I picked up in Balboa Park in the midst of an argument with my mom.    
But not all of the ornaments associated with my mom involve arguments.  There’s the one commemorating our trip to see the Radio City Rockettes and the Phillies 2008 World Series ornament that, for me, doesn’t commemorate the Phillies’ World Series win but rather the crazy trek that my mom and I made down to watch the victory parade and the even crazier trek back home.  And then there’s the little teapot ornament that I got when we went to see an exhibit of First Ladies’ dresses at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. 
If you have First Ladies, you’ve gotta have Presidents right?  Don’t worry – they’re well-represented.  Ornaments from the Truman Presidential Library and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s retreat in Gettysburg hang proudly from the branches.  The brass drum ornament from the John F. Kennedy Library that I bought while I was an intern there reminds me every year that dreams really do come true. 
There’s an ornament from the World War I museum in Kansas City that I visited with colleagues while we were in town for a business trip.  And there’s an ornament from the World War II museum in New Orleans that my dad and I visited the day that we left on a cruise.  We spent so much time in the European Theater section talking to a veteran who landed at Normandy that we had to rush through the Pacific Theater section so that we could get to the ship in time!
Talking about cruises!  There’s the ornament that I got when I went on a cruise with my cousins on the Serenade of the Seas.  And two separate Grandeur of the Seas ornaments – one from a cruise my family took out of Baltimore and the other from that New Orleans adventure.  Yep, same ship, two different cruises, two different ornaments.
There’s a ballerina ornament that my aunt gave me for Christmas one year.  My aunt used to make gingerbread men for all of the cousins and present them to us at dessert after Christmas dinner.  It was a lovely gesture except that the gingerbread men were practically inedible!  My aunt passed away a few years ago but that ballerina ornament always makes me think of her and those gingerbread men.    
And of course, a tree wouldn’t be a proper tree if there wasn’t a pickle hidden in it!  This is one pickle that I won’t give away!
And there’s an ornament with a simple command – believe.  Believe that anything is possible.  Believe that dreams do come true.  Believe in the magic – and meaning – of the season. 

Time to turn on the switch!
What a lovely tree!  Thank you for sharing in my memories and helping me decorate! 


  1. Awww, well that was my very first ever tree trimming party and it was lovely! Merry Christmas, D!

  2. Your tree looks great! And your travels sound exciting!

    But let's talk about the pickle for a second, shall we? Katherine's been learning about Christmas traditions from around the world this year and she came home the other day talking about hiding a pickle in the tree for good luck. I'd never even heard about that tradition before, but now here you are doing it too. What's the story?

    And, of course, Merry Christmas! Thanks for inviting me to the party!

  3. Thanks for stopping by ladies! Sorry, if I was a little tipsy. Someone spiked the egg nog!

    Here's the pickle story - supposedly it's a German tradition that you hide a pickle ornament somewhere in your tree. The first person to find it on Christmas gets an extra present or good luck or something equally delightful. Fried pickles, perhaps? Funny though, I looked it up and apparently, Germans don't actually do this! So, who knows where it comes from!!

    But, my pickle is tucked away...because tradition's tradition, right?