The smell of pine needles reminds me of home. Some people like to choose the noble fir, but the lowly douglas is the one that brings back memories of Christmas in the Northwest. Thirty years ago my parents celebrated my first Christmas with me. I was 6 lbs, 15 oz at birth, just like my daughter. These ornaments have hung on my Christmas tree every year that I can remember.
When Josh and I first got married, our tree was bare. We tried to decide what kind of a tree we would have. A stylish one with a color scheme and modern appeal? Or a homey one with memories, not so sophisticated, but one that our children would exclaim over each year as we decorated. Obviously you can tell which one was closest to my heart.
We started out by purchasing an ornament for each other every Christmas. We have the Mickey Mouse bride and groom antenna balls that we turned into ornaments, marking our trip to Disneyland on our honeymoon. We have the little foxes on a log, commemorating our first Christmas together, and a reminder to not let the little foxes sneak in to destroy the garden.
Then, a porcelain circle joined our tree, filled with a picture of Eli at just 6 months old, recalling memories of the greatest mall Santa ever. The silver mobile hung by an “I’m not little” little girl; her special ornament from when she joined our family. And two years later, the stork brought us another, a little boy who needs to be reminded to “look with his eyes and not his hands” as he stands in awe before the twinkling lights.
This year is a baby’s first. He’s just become mobile, already chasing pine needles across the living room carpet. He’s not too happy that I make him wear a hat and pose for a picture. Today he seems so big, compared to the newborn he was in my arms almost six months ago. Someday we’ll look back at this picture and wonder where that baby went, grown into a boy and a man.
Each addition to our tree marks a memory, prompting an exclamation of, “Oh look, here’s this one!” Just as when I was growing up, my children delight in rediscovering their family history through the novelty of a tree in the house. As the storage boxes grow empty, and the star topper crowns the tree, Cora requires that we turn off all the house lights so we can sing a Christmas song.
With the soft glow from the rainbow lights filling the room, and two children on my lap singing “Jingle Bells” in my ears, I’m reminded again how truly blessed I am to have the family I do.