At tree-trimming time every Christmas, I gave each of my three daughters a new ornament, beginning when they were all still quite small. Some years the ornaments given reflected a passion or hobby of each individual girl; other years, all three received similar ornaments with only a slight variation on a common theme. Every year, all were dated and hung upon the family tree.
With three new ornaments added for the girls each year plus a new one for Jim and myself annually, too, our Christmas tree became jam-packed with ornaments by the time the girls were ready to leave the nest. The paring down of the baubles was far more abrupt than the collecting. First it was Megan's collection that we wrapped up and sent with her once she became a newlywed. Next, Andrea moved up and out and on, taking her ornaments with her. Then, just a few years ago, Brianna and her seasonal stash found a new home, as well.
Now that Jim and I decorate our tree with many old ornaments of our own, plus nearly just as many new ornaments to take the place of those relocated to our daughters' Christmas trees, it's been especially heartwarming this past week while visiting my grandsons to see many of the familiar ornaments of Christmases past hanging on Megan's tree. Not only those I had given her through the years, but ones she had made herself or received from others, too.
Equally heartwarming to see hung in a place of prominence at Megan's house was an advent calendar I had made for my daughters many years ago, now providing a chocolate-y countdown to Christmas for my grandsons.
It's bittersweet to see old, familiar seasonal decor adorning a home so far removed from mine, in years and in geography. Every once in a while during this visit, I've been hit with the overwhelming realization that things will never go back to what they were, that time has indeed ticked along, those days are gone, and this is where we as a family are, what we will be from now on. Not that I didn't realize that—or be okay with that—already, but the confirmation of such sometimes comes in unexpected and occasionally uncomfortable waves. No more kids' ornaments hanging on the tree was and is just the beginning...and the end.
That serves as the bitter. The sweet? Seeing the enjoyment my grandsons now get pulling foiled Santas and chocolate balls from the very same crudely numbered pockets their mom and aunts once did, counting the days until Santa's arrival. Days that to a child move far too slowly. Days that to a mom—and now a grandma— moved far too fast and somehow, without proper notice, became years.
What holiday ornaments have you passed down to your children?