Monday, December 22, 2008

Ornament Roundup

During one of the many evenings it took to trim the tree this year, my husband asked me where we got "this ugly plastic violin."

He may not have actually said "ugly," but it was carefully present in his tone, just in case the ornament was not a dollarama special sent in a Christmas package from my parents one year. It wasn't.

I love finding old ornaments and remembering where they came from, and the stories or people I associate with them. In fact, whenever I go somewhere interesting I always look for an ornament to commemorate the occasion. I'm still surprised at how often there are not any available. (Tanglewood, I'm looking at you.)

Here are a few of my ornaments and a little bit of their stories.

The previously mentioned plastic violin. I picked out this violin one afternoon when I was six years old, and my first tooth fell out into the A&W hamburger (plain) I was eating. I hated the fact that I was losing my teeth. I refused to do anything to make them come out faster. And when my tooth finally came out during lunch with my dad, I was inconsolable. Hence, an ornament buying trip where I chose this one for myself (I was an avid novice violin player in the school music program) and one for each of my younger siblings. I think it's beautiful.

I got this Shakespeare (along with a palace guard and Queen Victoria) in England during my trip to Europe in the summer of 2006. I had always wanted to go, and finally planned my solo journey that summer, passing through all the places I had most wanted to see: London, Paris, Venice, Rome; and meeting up with my dad in Amsterdam. The trip was amazing in so many ways. I found out I was pregnant with Will while I was in Paris. My dad was able to take me to the place where he was born in the Netherlands, and even introduce me to some of my Dutch relatives. Of course, ornaments were only available in England and Holland, so my tree is devoid of a Mona Lisa or a pope.

My uncle (or "Unc" as we always called him) was my parents' best friend since before they were married. When I was very small - maybe 2 - he took a teaching position oversees at a military base in Germany. He brought me back this ornament, and it was one of the ones I was able to reclaim from my parents' tree a few years ago. Unc passed away suddenly about a year ago, so although this ornament has always been special to me, it means even more now to see it hanging on my own tree. One day I hope it will give me an opening to share some of my memories of Unc with my daughter.

My husband and I found this ornament in Nova Scotia in the summer of 2003. He had been accepted to medical school in Albany, NY, and we decided to take a road trip to that city to find him a place to live, and then continue travelling to the East Coast. Again, we visited places in Canada I had always wanted to see: Prince Edward Island with all of its "Anne of Green Gables" lore, Halifax and the beautiful Cabot trail. He and I had spent a lot of our relationship dealing with living apart long distance, not to mention in secret from his family (a post for another day), but it was during this trip that we knew we were really in this together. A year later we "came out" to his family, and a year after that we were married.

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