More than any other single decoration, Christmas trees become our own personal, seasonal canvas.
Some people create beautiful, themed trees with coordinating bows and baubles. They pull from across the spectrum. I’ve been moved by trees full of crosses and nativity scenes. I’ve marveled over Radko’s assembled genius. I’ve cheered for sports-themed trees.
But as gorgeous and inspiring as those trees are, I’ve never been tempted to try to duplicate them. Our Christmas tree is a joint art project with 17 (and counting) variations.
Our Christmas tree is full of stories. Every ornament on the Morris family tree has person, place or thing behind it, starting with tiny little silver tree garland that graced our first tree as a couple.
When I hang ornaments on the tree, I don’t just see pretty balls and colorful characters. I see friends close and far. I see babies and toddlers, who are now growing up much too fast. I see our parents and feel their love.
The 12 scenes from the Night Before Christmas remind me of a college friend I haven’t talked to in 20 years, who sent them to us as a wedding present. They’ve made the tree every year.
Three silly, colorful abstract ornaments pulled off the kids’ crib mobile always make me grin. When I pull them out, I can hear the strains of the classical music lullaby in my head and remember the sleepless nights.
When I look at a blue ball ornament with white spots on it, I see Olivia Morris and her best buddy from first grade, Spence Hadaway, laying down their fingerprints. There’s the snowman that Evan created out of popsicle sticks in preschool.
We have a Christmas pickle thanks to our friend Ginna Parsons. We also have an Elvis that she didn’t give to us, but I’m sure she appreciates.
There are the ornaments my mom handed down from our childhood Christmas tree, including one made to look like a Victorian china doll. Every year, Scott makes the same, off-color joke as he hangs that particular ornament.
Some of the ornaments are bittersweet. There’s an angel holding a cat that always makes me think of the cats we’ve loved and lost.
Others are just silly. The raccoon with the compass always gets a place of honor, lost inside the tree. The kids like to move the Santa surfing a remote control car around the tree.
The Morris family tree won’t win awards, but it’s perfect as the continuing story of us.
Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org