“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” ~ Washington Irving
If you have followed me on social media or even this blog you know I am Christmas happy. I get so giddy around this time of year. Even my nephews were rolling their eyes at me at my exuberance when I was home Pre-Thanksgiving.
Christmas has always been stoked in tradition for my family. From the making of Kolache, to the huge Slovak breakfast Christmas morning, to traditions like decorating the tree, cutting out snowflakes, watching a movie Christmas morning, attending Midnight Mass and even gift giving. It is one of the reasons WHY I love this time of year so much. This season brings the nostalgia of childhood and traditions to the forefront and with a new generation of littles growing up, I get to share with them that heritage and see their excitement as the season evolves.
A Tree in Every Room
As a kid, it seemed like EVERY room in my parent’s house had a tree. We had the main one in the living room where all the presents would rest and Santa would lay his out for us kids o Christmas Eve. It was a hodge podge of ornaments. Some had been passed through the generations, now fragile to the touch, but full of memories. Equal in sentiment, but a little more rough around the edges were the ones we as kiddos had made in school. And then there were the ones my parents had collected from travels, and as adults, us kids had given them as souvenirs from our own. It was and still is a tree that is a testament to familial memories and love.
My Mom had her own huge Victorian tree in her and my Dad’s bedroom. Artistically decorated, it was filled with Radko ornaments, that saw us getting threatened with coal if we so much as breathed on them…When she was looking.
Underneath her tree sat her Department 56 Christmas in the City village, which at the time was small enough to fit underneath it. I would lay under it looking and imagining all the people moving about hoping if I imagined hard enough they would come to life before me akin to a scene out of the song Silver Bells.
Then their were our trees. The kid trees. Small trees we had in our bedrooms decorated with the beginnings of our own ornament collections that to bigger as we got older. Little beacons of light to brighten and bring holiday cheer to our rooms.
My Grown-up Christmas Tree
Now that we are adults, things have changed. My Mom only does the communal tree in the living room, where “Santa” still leaves his presents underneath. While you can still catch a glimpse of homemade decorations, ribbon and glass balls are artistically hung to give it a more cohesive look.
The trees in our bedrooms have now grown to full sized ones in our own places.
That is to say, my siblings have their own. Living in a small apartment and moving constantly, I kept my decorations at home, which makes it even more special when I go back for the holidays.
The Skating Tree
Christmas was my sister’s favorite time of year, and she would put up a tree wherever she was. Every year, she would buy new ornaments to mark the passage of time, and she in turn would also buy me one, usually a skating ornament.
The Christmas season began just one short month after she passed. At the time, I had escaped for a couple weeks to New York to spend time with my cousin. As I walked through the countless Christmas markets I saw ornaments and despite my haze of grief and shock, I knew I wanted to keep the tradition she had started for me alive.
Every year since, I have bought a skating ornament. It has become my tribute to her. A way to keep her with me through out the season, and give me a smile when ever I look at my tree.
The moment the Christmas Market’s open in Bryant Park, I begin the hunt to see what ornament I can find, that will make its new home on my tree. It is always fun to peruse the vast assortment and make my pick. And while I have added ornaments from my travels, and even been given ornaments with mermaid and writing themes, there is no doubt to the observer it is a skating tree. One that represents memories, bonds, family, passion, love and the true spirit of Christmas.
Do you have a theme for your tree? What is your most favorite ornament?