|The Memory Tree
By Barbara Poole
From the very beginning, I knew that this was no ordinary tree. An ordinary tree would have just stood there, with its branches outstretched, waiting to be adorned and admired. This tree was different. It seemed to know that it had potential for a special destiny, and so instead of just standing there, it seemed to reach out to us and say, "Take me, take me!" So we responded, and chose this humble little Frasier Fir to be our newest member, in a long line of special Christmas trees, or, as I like to refer to them, memory trees.
If you flip through the pages of Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens, youll see lots of Christmas trees with themes. This one has angels, that one is all done up in gold and burgundy, and the one on page 89 is homespun, with lots of raffia and cinnamon sticks and twigs, strategically positioned to give it a sophisticated country look. Our trees only theme has always been the wonderful memories that they hold. The ornaments have come from far and wide and long ago, and the only thing they have in common is the special feelings that they evoke in our hearts when we remember their origins. Let me show you what I mean:
In the early days of our marriage, we felt fortunate if we could afford to buy a tree, much less ornaments to put on it. During one of those early years, we found a real bargain on a box of 24 wooden ornaments. I think they were $9.95 or so for the whole lot. What they lacked in quality they made up for in charm. There is one that still hangs, even if it hangs with a piece coming loose.
There's a beautiful little cross-stitched ornament dates back to when I was pregnant with my now-17 year old son. I would love to tell you that I was feeling maternal when I sat down to make this, but the truth is, my husband did the needlework on this ornament, as well as several others. He even won an award for one that year! I guess the nesting thing rubbed off and he ended up with the domestic talent.
When our son was little, he had a little girl his age across the street who was his best friend. Each year Justin and Mariah exchanged ornaments, and one of my favorites is an ornament from those early years--a Teddy Bear on which Mariah had written Justins name. He probably hugged her for it then--and probably wouldnt go near her today.
Our Golden Retriever Bentley has been with us for going on 12 years and is a full-fledged member of the family. One year when we were feeling particularly sentimental about old Bentley (that must have been the year we had left him in the kennel for Christmas) we found a ceramic golden retriever ornament at a craft show to remind us of him.
Some people use icicles to round out their decorations. We use snowflakes--by the dozen, courtesy of my mother-in-law, who graciously made us a supply of these little jewels to fill in the bare spots on the tree.
We have lots of shiny and beautiful ornaments on our tree--as the years went by we began to feel a little more comfortable and were able to buy a few very special blown glass decorations. But my favorite ornament is one that fades a little more each year. Its made out of old green construction paper, and the string has come undone several times. But when Justin proudly presented us with his "Hands Full of Love" made at age 3 in Miss Lils nursery school class, we knew it would always be destined for a special place on our memory tree.
To the casual observer, our tree may seem to be a hodge podge of a lot of stuff, with no real pattern. But to us, its a memory tree, one that grows richer and more beautiful with each passing year.