Unpacking Memories, Ornament by Ornament

I love Christmas.  Every year I look and dream of walking down streets filled with Christmas lights in London, or skating on a river in Holland, or shopping for ornaments while enjoying a Pretzel in Germany and think about the magic of traveling at Christmas.  And then I’m slightly more swayed by the comfort of home.  Christmas tree up in the living room, sitting by the fire, curled up with a book and letting time drift away and my mind relax from the busy work that comes before and after the two week Christmas break.

But maybe my favourite part of the whole season, is decorating my Christmas tree.

While many have trees covered in hand crafted ornaments from their children, or in matching shades of purple and silver, I have a tree covered with ornaments from around the globe.  Each ornament is a memory.  And decorating the tree is a yearly exercise in unpacking those memories.

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From our most recent trip, ornaments from the Musee d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, and the cutest little Christmas shop across from the Flower Market in Amsterdam.

holland mexico

Hand carved wooden shoes, engraved in front of me in Ede (Netherlands) from our earlier travels in 2008, and ornaments from our multiple trips to the Mayan Riviera in 2007 and 2009.

germany

From our recent trip around Germany, hand crafted wood from Oberammergau, and hand painted glass from Hohenschwangau and Rothenburg.

us bahamas

2010 and 2011 were the year of many road trips, bringing hand carved ornaments from the Redwood forest (bottom left), a greeting of Shalom from the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and hand made German Christmas ornament from the Christmas town of Leavenworth, WA.  2010 also brought us on a family trip to the Bahamas.

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Seattle for a girls trip with my mom, NYC for the first time with my Sister-in-law and Brother-in-law (to which we have matching AMNH ornaments), NYC with my mom, South Dakota on the road trip and the clay ornament hand made (and purchased) in Krakow, Poland.

first and last

And then there is the first and the last.  The purple ornament on the left is from Canadian Tire. No travel.  Nothing fancy or expensive.  But it reminds me of how lucky I am to afford all the travel I have been able to experience.  When we first got married (in 2003) we were very poor.  Young, in love, and both in University, we couldn’t afford much.  In a desperate attempt to make money, we got jobs as mystery shoppers.  We got picked up to mystery shop for Canadian Tire.  We would go in to the stores, inquire about the Canadian Tire Credit Card, see how long it took to be acknowledged, and had to buy something under $5.00 with each purchase so we could evaluate the check out procedures.  So I bought a Christmas ornament for our very first Christmas tree.  This ornament is beautiful to me.  It has humble beginnings.  When we couldn’t travel nor would have dreamed we would have seen as much as we have by this point in our lives.  We have been so blessed!!  The relatively similar styled Mickey Mouse on the right is from my most recent (and yet to be blogged about trip) to Disneyland, with my best friend Sarah.  It was the most extraordinary mini-vacation and I can’t wait to share the details of it soon.

So while this post has missed the Christmas deadline (thanks to a hacker who thought it would be fun to tear down my site just before the holiday), I believe the spirit of the season is with us all year.  So wishing you all Peace, Hope, Joy and LOVE in 2014.  And may it bring you (and me) many travels, near or far.

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