December 23, 2013 |  Category:   holidays life










A week ago it looked like this. Yesterday? 70 degrees.


I was thinking about one Christmas some years ago when we were picking out our tree last weekend. A Christmas when money was particularly tight and I wasn’t sure whether or not spending money on a tree was something we should pull off. But we did. We scraped some money together by pulling dollar bills from our change jar and the kids and I went and bought that tree. It was worth every penny and I was thinking how glad I was not to have skimped on a tree that year.

When we pull the ornaments out of the box every December, it’s like pulling out bits and pieces of our past; some are as old as the all the years we’ve been back in NY. There are those ball ornaments we received as a wedding gift from our Portland friends; the ceramic ballerina that we bought after the Nutcracker 7 years ago; the cookie dough ornaments imprinted with the girls’ tiny hand prints that we made one year when they were small, and the vintage glass balls that I bought when my favorite antique store in the neighborhood went out of business a few years ago. We also have a striped yellow wooden tabby cat ornament that reminds us of our old cat. It’s become special in that regard. My favorite, however, might be the paper chain that Mia and I made together even before Miss C was born. It’s a bit faded, broken in some places and some of the sparkles have fallen off, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

We didn’t always get a tree, Mark and I, when it was just the two of us, but we started buying trees every year since Mia was a toddler. We’d keep a spray bottle of water nearby the years our cat was alive to keep him from batting ornaments off the tree. It didn’t always work and one year we woke up to a crash with the tree on the floor, bits of glass shattered all around it. We didn’t have many ornaments to hang those early years so I used to buy one a year right after Christmas when everything would go on sale at deep discounts. We’ve accumulated quite a lot since then so I’ve stopped, but couldn’t resist buying this vintage tin merry-go-round from one of our retailers when we dropped off a delivery last month.

The girls do a pretty good job of decorating the tree now and I don’t really fuss over it after they go to bed anymore like I used to when they were young and hung everything at the bottom in clusters. I like how the tree, which is now chock full of ornaments, is like a timeline of sorts. I don’t have any heirlooms handed down to me from my family and have kept nothing from my childhood. There are photo albums, but that’s about it. I look forward to passing off some of these ornaments to the girls when they’re older and have lives of their own.

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  • Roseann December 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    This is beautiful, aren’t trees are wonderful? We didn’t do one this year, because last year our kitten just couldn’t leave it alone, and now he’s a teenager…maybe next year. I did hang some lights on the molding though, and some ornaments off of the nails keeping the lights up, and it’s pretty festive. When we have kids a tree will definitely be part of our tradition. Merry Christmas Jenna and family!

  • Denise in PA December 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

    We’ve collected ornaments over our almost 30 years of marriage – from all of our travels and bought special ones for gifts – you are right – it’s such a trip down memory lane every year. When our daughter was born, I decided to buy her a special ornament every year and put them away. The Christmas after she turned 21, I gave them to her as a gift as a start to her ornament collection. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Denise in PA December 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

    We’ve collected ornaments through our almost 30 years of marriage – buying special ones as gifts and as a momento of our travels – you are right, it’s just a trip down memory lane! When our daughter was born, I bought her a special ornament each year and put them away and gave them all to her the Christmas after she turned 21 to start her ornament collection. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • RebeccaNYC December 24, 2013 at 10:03 am

    The ornaments I have from my childhood are my most treasured objects. If the apartment building were to burn to the ground, those are some of the things I would rescue (after my cats….who never touch the tree) Because they are so treasured, I have begun sending my niece and nephew (who know all about me but never see me) ornaments for their Christmas gifts. I send them early and tell them to open them before Christmas….(a real treat in my family). I write the date and “from Aunt Becca” in pretty script somewhere inconspicuous or on a little tag on the hanging loop so that 20 years from now when they are decorating their own trees, they can say “this was from my Aunt Becca”. If I sent them some toy that got lost in the Christmas rush, they would never remember it. In this way, I hope a memory of me can be a part of their future. Sentimental, I know.

  • Clara December 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I wish you and your familly a beautiful holiday!!!! Ho! Ho! Ho! from Québec!

  • Lulu December 25, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Merry Christmas to you and your family from Sacramento!

  • Karyn December 30, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Beautiful tree! I love your new vintage merry-go-round ornament — it reminds me of the French carnival rides at Governor’s Island this summer that your beautiful photos inspired us to visit!

  • chris January 1, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Beautiful images of Christmas in the city! Love Miss C’s boots too. Where are they from?