Christmas trees – to Theme or not to Theme

I’m going out on a limb here (-:  with a strong opinion about Christmas trees at home.

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I think this tree is very pretty. And the way the color coordinates with the room is very cohesive, harmonious. But – I am defecting from the design world here – it reminds me of, well, a department store Christmas tree. Like you’d see at the mall. Where color coordinated holiday themes make sense, because in the overwhelming array of visual stimulation that exists there, you need that continuity and theme to make sense of the decor.

A home Christmas tree, in my book, is personal, and evokes years past, tradition, faces and memories of those we love; people we may still see regularly, or perhaps have passed away and only live in memory.

Here’s ours. Everything on it means something to us. Yes, it’s more of a hodge-podge, less polished (not to mention my amateur photography skills compared to the BHG picture above), but almost every one of its mishmash of ornaments collected over the years has a memory attached to it. A memory that evokes a face, a place, or an experience from the past.

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Here’s an ornament we bought on vacation at Zion National Park, and an angel purchased at a holiday fair at my daughter’s school when she was little.

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There are a bunch of old family ornaments my mom gave me when I was first married, that her mother gave her. They’re blotchy and the finish is dull, but through them I feel connected to family members both known and unknown to me, who hung them on trees in past years stretching way back to before I was born. They’re precious to me.

We use this angel as a tree topper every year. She was a gift to me one Christmas when I was about 10 years old and I love her. Actually I think she looks pretty good for having been around so long by now!

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There are quite a few ornaments I’ve given to my daughter each year as gifts. She’s got a good collection by now and will take them with her when it’s time for her to start her own home.

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 And she’s given me a few too. This star comes from Austria where she visited last fall while studying abroad for a semester. The little painted doll that hangs above it was found when we helped my husband’s parents move out of his childhood home, years ago. It’s a sweet old-fashioned little thing. To the left is a gold-painted walnut from the Waldorf school my daughter attended as a child, and on the right is a wax angel, part of a trio we made from a kit when she was little.

christmas, ornaments, christmas decorations, decor, home style, home design, holidaysMany places we have visited are represented on the tree: a few are Yosemite, Zion, Victoria, the Herndon street fair and the sandwich shop between NoVa and JMU that we stop at when we take Julia to college.

There are ornaments that have been given to us by friends who are no longer with us; others were gifts from my nieces, now grown; and still others predate those and came from children who were my Montessori school students in Boston long ago. The faces and spirits of those friends, children, and family come to mind and seem so present each year as the boxes are opened and one by one the ornaments are rediscovered and placed on the tree. In all their humble diversity of style and form, each is meaningful and together they add up to a tree that we find completely beautiful.

Whatever your style and whatever you celebrate, may you enjoy the season and may it be filled with love and good cheer! Happy holidays to all.

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