Oh Christmas Tree

When my brother and I were little, we used to fight over the decorations my mom would put out. I remember a large green glass bulb that was on my mom’s tree every year. After my mom passed, my brother had the ornament for the first year or so, then passed it along to me. I was so nervous about it getting broken, so I passed it along to my sister. It has survived and has since remained a tradition with my sister to find a special spot for it on her tree every year. I have many other ornaments from my mom which have become a decorating tradition for me to personally place on the tree.  My wife exposed me to her Elf-on-a-Shelf traditions I had not heard of before we met but has since become part of our annual decorations. There are other inspirations for making new traditions of our own.

It was a crisp winter morning two years ago that had an experience that inspired the decorations we put up starting last year but really was not complete until this year. While I had seen the lone cardinal contrasted against the snow covered branches before, I had never seen more than one together. This was a whole tree full of red-breasted birds perched among the intertwined branches! There were far too many to count! Before I could snap a picture, many had already flown away.

We identify the cardinal as a reminder of our loved ones who have passed during the holidays. Whenever we see one, we point it out as an opportunity to remember them. For me it is a reminder of my mom. My wife connects the sightings with her grandmother since it was also her favorite bird.

Our first year together, we opted for a silver and blue accented tree with a blue tree skirt trimmed in silver letter “Merry Christmas” along with matching blue and silver stockings for each member of the family. Two redbirds were strategically placed in the tree, ensuring that each would be seen. We were window shopping this year and found a cookie jar that prompted a change for this season.

Next, my wife’s friend made a wreath that was trimmed in red. We also found red stockings, and decided on red ornaments with poinsettia flower accents. The poinsettia table cloth and cardinal themed poinsettia tree skirt just made the theme come together. We later found cardinal salt and pepper shakers that we put out for our holiday meals. Two large poinsettia plants were also purchased.

While we now have the option of red or blue, I highly suspect the red will win again next year. What decorations do you put out as reminders of your Christmas traditions?