Sometimes I see photos of gorgeous Christmas trees with color themes or collections of exquisitely-designed ornaments and I think maybe someday I’ll get one little extra tree, maybe hide it away in the bedroom or something, and hang it with sapphire glass balls and white lights and some sort of topper purchased from the Garnett Hill catalog and it will be SO PRETTY but also untouchable and delicate and oh who am I kidding I’ll never really do this.

Our actual Christmas tree is best viewed from afar because once you get close enough to identify all the objects on the branches it sort of looks like we decorated it by dragging it through a thrift store.

For instance, this classy plastic keychain:

orn_keychain

The back says “Harbour Cruise-Bauhinia Hong Kong” and we got it as a tourist tchotchke when we toured Victoria Harbour by boat ten years ago or so.

There’s this goofy photo:

orn_2003

All I know is that it’s from 2003, but I can’t remember why we were dressed up or had our picture taken. Company holiday party, maybe? (Say, what do you like better, the giant skunk stripe through my hair, or JB’s chops?)

These ornaments remind me of the tiny Orcas Island church we got married in:

orn_church

I don’t know why I love this weird fungus-house thing, but I do:

orn_house

Did you know that if someone gives you a “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament, you are contractually obligated to hang it?

orn_1st

Even if the photo you include is terrible and the ornament itself is painfully hideous?

Poor Dog. Not only did she get stuck in a blindingly cheesy array of plastic crystals, the clumsy Photoshop job I did on her years ago makes her look like Ghost Dog, Peering Sorrowfully from the Great Beyond.

orn_dog

Flimsy sharp-edged vanity license plates for the kids purchased on a business trip to San Francisco?

orn_license

Check.

Awkward family photo that I clearly stuffed in the frame before the printer ink had completely dried?

orn_2008

Check.

And, of course, the tree topper that’s never been a star or an angel but rather, a compass:

orn_compass

Do you have oddball things on your Christmas tree? Tell me all about them, please. I love those immaculately-styled trees but I love the slightly-hoopty family memento trees even more.

PS: Just for my friend Jennifer, a brief appearance from the Holiday Pooping Sheep:

sheep

Comments

74 Responses to “A few of my favorite (tree) things”

  1. Veronica on December 19th, 2011 2:02 pm

    Our tree looks the same every year. Plastic/handmade (by the children) ornaments are all over it. My favorite is a wooden snowman that my daughter painted when she was about 2. It’s BROWN. The kids get a kick out of Lily’s Poopman every year. It makes me happy.

  2. Jessica on December 19th, 2011 2:18 pm

    I wandered around World Market this year and sighed wistfully over some adorable and sparkly owl themed ornaments and secretly wished I could have a theme tree. But then I remember all my ornaments at home and realized I could never leave them out, so I will never have a perfectly matching theme! My favorite is a glass Big Bird in a Santa hat.

  3. Anne on December 19th, 2011 2:25 pm

    this is my favorite kind of tree because it can only be yours. and mine can only be mine. and that in and of itself is something wonderfully special about the holidays. our tree gets more and more cluttered year after year and as my friends move on to have those beautiful trees you mentioned above, i love ours even more. it is filled with ugly ornaments containing pictures of my child’s first christmas (that i am SO glad we have), of ornaments that were mine or my husbands when we were kids, they all represent a moment in time and to put them all in one place for a little while every year so that we can think back on who we were, who we are and who we want to be, it just seems perfect.

  4. Beth C on December 19th, 2011 2:48 pm

    My husband likes to hide things in the tree. Forks, lightswitch plates, occasionally food (I found a really old rice krispie treat in there once–luckily this has ceased since getting a dog 8 years ago). So in addition to our enormous collection of crazy ornaments collected since both of our childhoods as well as our own kids’ stuff, you never know what you will find on our tree.

  5. Kris on December 19th, 2011 2:49 pm

    Going to go make some felt ornaments & softies with my 3-year-old now. With extra glitter, because he’s a boy & I’ll never get my girl; so I may as well make him an evil crafty genius.

  6. Donna on December 19th, 2011 3:05 pm

    Your tree sounds PERFECT.

  7. Laura on December 19th, 2011 6:16 pm

    Am I the only one who is disturbed by the proximity of that sheep’s ass to the baby’s face?

    Our tree totally does not match, and I love it that way. Each ornament has a story. I even put all of the really horrible ones the kids make, the ones that my (now 14 year old) daughter begs me to throw away but I just can’t bring myself to do so because it reminds me of her when she was young and cute and I did not want to sell her to the nearest gypsie…

    Or at least I did not want to do so as often as I do now :p

  8. Jennifer on December 19th, 2011 7:27 pm

    The SHEEEEP! It’s Baaaaa-ck (get it? Baaa? heeheheheee) Love it! Thanks for sharing!

    I agree completely with Anne, above. Your tree can only be yours and mine can only be mine. Each so unique and special! I have ornaments handed down from grandparents, as well as all the childhood ornaments from our tree growing up (I got ALL the Christmas stuff when I moved into my own house, as the parents were downsizing and my brother didn’t want any of them). I also seem to have collected a lot of bicycle-ish ornaments, some of which are sweet little toy bicycles but others are bike tools, bike parts (there’s part of a rear derailleur up there), and even a small (empty) tin of bag balm I received from another cyclist friend. (Bike riders often use Bag Balm to fend off saddle sores… sorry for the TMI.)

    Unpacking the ornaments is always a little memory-lane party for me as I remember how many years I’ve had each one and the story behind it. *love!*

  9. Dak on December 20th, 2011 8:27 am

    I don’t have kids, but my mom and dad still hang the ornaments we made as kids on their tree. By the way, I’m 35, so those construction paper bells with glitter are practically antiques. Their tree is like a walk through family Christmases past. Let’s just say it’s not the tree of Martha Stewart’s dreams yet it is awesome.

    Totally unrelated: I love your blog and read regularly but rarely comment (kinda shy). But I just have to say damn you. No, really. Damn you because all of your talk about The Wire and how awesome it is. They don’t broadcast it where I live, so I finally cracked and got the DVDs. Now, well, let’s just say MAJOR TIME SUCK during the holidays but I cannot stop watching. OMG.

  10. tanya on December 20th, 2011 10:16 am

    “ghost dog, peering sorrowfully from the great beyond”… so freaking funny. I have these ornaments we made about 20 years ago out of chestnuts, plastic rolly eyeballs, grapevines, and whatever else we could find. they kind of look like Occupational Therapy projects from a mental asylum. And one of them has whiskers on it from my actual cat – we trimmed one of her whiskers to feed our Christmas joy machine.

  11. Sarah on December 20th, 2011 12:53 pm

    My husband and I collected a huge tree’s worth of gorgeous ornaments after we got married — hand blown glass (after Xmas sale!), glittered glass balls, gorgeous glass handpainted lions, along with a whole collection from our “travels.” Virtually all of it is relegated to the garage for the next 20 years because the stuff with have made and received from our toddler is more important and fun. And I can’t bear to watch him break all the really pretty ones or clean up the tiny shards of glass. ;) The tree this year is all about clay, paper, plastic or fabric ornaments. One day while I was at work, the boy and my mom decided the tree was a little thin looking so they made cranberry and popcorn garland and it looks amazing.

  12. BBB on December 20th, 2011 1:33 pm

    What does one do when they have not one but 4 different baby first Christmas ornaments and they are ALL dated in plain as day, no chance of being able to change the year? MY GOD, WHY?

  13. Amy on December 20th, 2011 4:32 pm

    My brother was 7 when I was born in October 1967. When Christmas rolled around, he thought I would like to see all of the twinkly lights on the Christmas tree and felt that the best view would be…..from underneath it! He shoved me under on my back and crawled in next to me. My mother came around the corner to see her 2 1/2 mo old baby flailing her fat little hands trying to grab the pretty glass balls hanging so close. Well, she had visions of one of them breaking and….that’s right…poking my eye out. So she marched up to Woolworths and bought all of these soft, fluffy white ornaments (house, polar bear, etc) with blue and silver rick rack on it. The next year, she started getting my brother and sister and I a few ornaments each year that reminded her of something we had done/experienced/accomplished that year. We all have HUGE trunks of ornaments now as she still hasn’t stopped. I’m 44 and have an array of ornaments, including the white polar bear! She has continued the tradition with my boys and we have so many that we don’t even use all of them each year. But it’s fun to open them each year and tell the stories!!

  14. Livi on December 20th, 2011 5:13 pm

    We have an angel at the top of our tree, but she’s cuddling a stuffed gnome – not baby Jeezus!

  15. shelie on December 20th, 2011 8:16 pm

    My tree is a work in progress. A mixture of homemade oranments from friends and the sweet oranments that my children made many years ago (my boys are now 25 and 20 years). In 1984 i stated buying oranments with the year on it. As for a tree topper – it’s a homemade “ICP Hatchet Man” from my oldest son’s bestfriend. Our tree is full of memories – everything on it has a story. And i wouldn’t have it any other way.

  16. Chataine on December 22nd, 2011 7:42 am

    Our tree is totally like that. We have some pretty things, mostly gifts from hubby’s mom (who is a Christmas-decorating fanatic), but lots of randomness. Like the glistening pipe-cleaner spiderweb I made in second grade after my class had read Charlotte’s Web (even more curious owing to the fact that hubby is terrified of spiders). Or the tiny bespectacled old man made out of…corn husk?…he’s not Santa, he’s just an old man. I think that one was passed down from my parents from some British friends. We have started buying ornaments from all of our vacation locations (instead of any other souvenirs), which adds to the hodgepodge-ness but also to the memories. I adore our tree!

  17. Chataine on December 22nd, 2011 7:44 am

    Oh, and the tree topper is a stuffed bear wearing a candy came suit. He’s the only thing that doesn’t make our poor fake Walmart tree fall over!

  18. Em on December 22nd, 2011 10:23 am

    I have an ornament that is a sign saying “Welcome to the North Pole.” My mother bought it for me the year I turned 13, because I got my first period at an amusement park called the North Pole, that yes, you guessed it, was Christmas themed. This was not embarassing AT ALL.

  19. joaaanna on December 22nd, 2011 6:58 pm

    I have a giant fish that looks like it is completely dressed in drag. A tin-punched teddy bear that I did in 4-H years ago. A piece of pasta that is supposed to be an angel made by my stepson. And a cornhusk doll with a hippie hat on her head. Wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

  20. warcrygirl on December 24th, 2011 3:30 am

    Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments from the kids dating back to pre-school such as a flattened McDonald’s ashtray with glitter and a small school photo, a reindeer made from clothespins, a ‘snowflake’ made from glue, glitter and q-tips; candy canes and the three Beagle Scout ornaments I got from one of my cub scouts (3 Christmases in a row). It used to be all color-coordinated and shit but the kids and the cat (in his youth) took care of that.

    Maybe next year…

  21. bj on December 25th, 2011 1:11 am

    I’m a non-Christian who loves Christmas trees As a voyeur. Thanks so much for sharing yours. I love the compass tree topper!

  22. Rose on December 28th, 2011 3:07 pm

    I know it’s after Christmas, but this is hilarious and I wanted to add my two cents. First, LINDA! I remember those Avon pins with the “perfume” in them! Awesome! Our tree is ridiculous. The paperish angel on top was a gift to my parents when I was born in 1967 and has been on EVERY one of my trees since then (inlcuding the years she accidentally electrocuted people; she has since been de-electrified). Every ornament has a story that my sons are now tired of hearing but love me enough to listen to every year as we put them on the fake tree that we’ve had for 17 years, after its service to my grandparents for how many years. Speaking of grandparents, I think the “Christmas spider” ornament painted on a clamshell BY MY GRANDFATHER a few years ago is probably the cheesiest and one of the most well-loved.

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