What Hangs on Your Tree?

Our Waterford Byzantine Santa is new this year, found last week at the Re-Store, which supports Habitat For Humanity.

Our Waterford Byzantine Santa is new this year, found last week at the Re-Store, which supports Habitat For Humanity.

What hangs on your Christmas tree?

I’m always delighted and intrigued by Christmas trees.  Each is so personal and unique.

Birds always live in our Christmas tree.

Birds always live in our Christmas tree.

Although we all begin with an evergreen tree, or shrub, and we all use basically the same components of lights, ornaments, garlands, ribbon; every single tree takes on its own personality.

If you’ve ever spent time wandering through a Christmas shop you’ve probably gotten lost, as I have, in the bewildering assortment of decorations.  I am always attracted to the brightly painted glass ornaments from Europe shaped into birds, beasts, cars, trucks, people, and even green pickles!

Glass Amanita muscaria mushrooms are popular ornaments in parts of Europe, where their original connection to Winter Solstice celebrations is remembered.

Glass Amanita muscaria mushrooms are popular ornaments in parts of Europe, where their original connection to Winter Solstice celebrations is remembered.

Years ago we attended a breakfast with Santa when my daughter was a child.  It was part of a larger charity event which included a Christmas tree auction.  Various individuals and groups had decorated Christmas trees for the display and auction, and each tree had a theme.  The most interesting one was decorated with small glass bowls, each cradled in  a little net sling.  A Siamese fighting fish swam in each little bowl, like a jeweled ornament, on this beautiful tree.

A Margaret Furlong heart collected many years ago.

A Margaret Furlong heart collected many years ago.

Our own tree is far too small to hold all of our ornaments.  I could probably decorate a half dozen trees with the treasures I’ve collected over the years.  Each year a slightly different collection comes out of the boxes for a few weeks to take on new life on the tree.

But a few aspects remain the same.  I prefer white lights on a Christmas tree.  Not only are they much brighter, but they look like stars twinkling in the tree’s branches;which was, of course, the original idea.

This owl reminds us of the owls living in our forest.

This owl reminds us of the owls living in our forest.

My tree is always the host to a collection of birds.  From the very first tree in my very first apartment, I’ve collected bird ornaments.  I have some little nests with birds sitting on eggs, several cardinals and feathered doves, an owl and an eagle acquired here in Williamsburg, crystal hummingbirds, and geese.

One of those early Christmases brought me an early Christmas gift of a Nanday Conure.  He escaped his cage one day as I was trying to hand train him, and roosted in the top of the Christmas tree for the next several days, flying around the apartment whenever I tried to coax him onto my hand and put him back into his cage.  Since that tree, I’ve always wanted to fill my Christmas tree with small birds.

dec 23 2013 004

This 80’s vintage snowflake was offered by the Smithsonian Museum gift shop.

I also collect stars and snowflakes.  I’ve found them in silver and brass, porcelain, plastic; and we even have a few crotcheted from white cotton  decades ago by my grandmother.

A have dozens of angels, mostly made in crystal or porcelain.  And a goodly portion of “For My Teacher” ornaments given by favorite students over the years.    My parents have given us the White House Christmas Ornament each year since they lived in Washington DC for a while.

A Santa given to me when I was a child.

A Santa given to me when I was a child.

I have ornaments from my childhood, commemorative Christmas balls from all over, many little Santas and elves,  and souvenir ornaments given by traveling loved ones.   The tips of our tree’s branches are hung with crystal icicles.

All in all, it is sparkling, with lots of green, living tree allowed to shine through.  It is topped with a beautiful blown glass top we found while preparing for our first Christmas together, and a golden angel.

This little snowflake is a gift from my friend, on Yalda.

This little snowflake is a gift from my friend, on Yalda.

We celebrated the festival of Yalda among dear friends on Saturday night with sliced watermelon, roasted nuts, a delicious dinner, and the poetry of Rumi.

Our  friend has decorated her first Christmas tree since moving to America a few years ago; a regal Norfolk Island Pine she has raised up into a great, full sized tree.  It is happily covered in white lights and decorated with a few white snowflakes and stars.  We were so happy to share a white porcelain star  with her, for her first Christmas tree here in the United States.

May it attract peace and light to her heart and her home.December 23, 2013 ornaments 009

What is on your Christmas tree?  Does it express your wishes for the future?  Does it commemorate the person you’ve become?  Is it a collection of memories from the people and places which have shaped you?  Does it reflect your travels?  Your interests? Your children?

The 2000 commemorative Christmas ball from Maymont Park, in Richmond, Va.

The 2000 commemorative Christmas ball from Maymont Park, in Richmond, Va.

I’ve always felt that making a Christmas tree is a potent form of magic. 

It is both a blessing of gratitude and an affirmation of all we want to bring into our lives in the coming year.  It is a beautiful reminder of those we love and the things which bring us joy.

May your Christmas tree fill your home with light, your heart with joy, and your life with the magic of Christmas.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

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