In our book we talk about the richness of establishing family traditions. This week we share traditions from 2 families about what hangs on their Christmas trees: Tara’s, and a guest writer, Sarah Baker. One catalogs miles and memories, the other sets the holiday mood that delights in seasonal indulgence. Let’s trim the trees!
A collection of memories Our tree holds collected ornaments from family trips and events — pink handprints on a glazed ceramic ball with “Olivia – 1997” written along one side from the year our daughter was born; a carved wooden loon from a 2000 summer cottage in Maine; a Fleur-de-Lys from Montreal in 2006; a special rock with a glue-gunned fishing line hanger from a river camping trip in 2010; a tacky Santa-driven cable car from the vacation to San Francisco in 2002… Sometimes purchased, sometimes made, sometimes found, each has a year scrawled on it – in black Sharpie, fancy metallic ink, engraved or stamped by some artisan or offshore factory. Unwrapping the worn-soft tissue from around each ornament when we trim the Christmas tree is a gift in itself, an annual journey through our shared memories of family adventures over the years. – Tara
Getting in the spirit Every December, my husband and I and our two kids pile into our station wagon and drive 20 minutes west to Gerard’s, the farmstand/boutique on busy Route 2 in Lincoln, MA. We zoom past the shop on the left and make a u-turn about a mile up the road. We pull into the parking lot, giddy with anticipation. For it’s our Christmas family tradition, that the children get to pick one decoration each—ornament or accessory–every year. And Gerard’s gets us into the spirit.
My husband scouts for a Frazier fir while the kids and I race past the cedar garlands and refrigerator filled with mouth-watering homemade fruit pies into the little store. Inside we find the impractical and often pricey Christmas decorations that we have come to treasure. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? A little indulgence? There are red currant scented candles, sparkly reindeer wearing faux-mink collars, oversized antique etched glass ornaments. Gerard, originally from Belgium, and his wife, Amy, have had the shop for 18 years. Antique and new finery, much of it from Europe, fills their shelves inside. Local products including decorated wreaths and apple cider can be found outside. We come for both.
So after the kids find their treasure and my husband our tree and wreath, we pile back into the car filled with Christmas spirit and ready to decorate. Oh, and we all get one of Gerard’s homemade chocolate turtles, conveniently located next to his cash register, to eat on the drive home. Now there’s a tradition! – Sarah Baker