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Christmas Is For Traditions

13 December 2012

Ours is called the Ornament Party.

Post Pic PinterestAnd, like all good traditions, it has its story.

We got married in October, and I think we kind of skipped a lot of Christmas that year. I think it started the following Christmas.

Either way, it was the first time we had a Christmas tree in our little studio apartment. We went to a tree farm, and found the most pathetic, dilapidated evergreen we could find, and brought it home.

Christmas is about redemption.

Sitting at the little, two-person cafe diner table in the corner of the kitchen suddenly felt like camping, but I didn’t care (can’t say the same for Husband, but he’s good to me). We had our first Christmas tree.

But we had nothing to put on it, obviously, and a box of color-themed ornaments just seemed shameful. Here we had this real life Charlie Brown tree, it needed us, and we were going to placate it with lame ornaments? Couldn’t do it. We got a strand of lights and went home to formulate Plan B. 

I like to pretend I’m a hostess sometimes – even in a matchbox apartment on the back of an office building, with nicotine-stained floor tiles and a retro couch resting on bricks – so we decided to cram the place with six or seven friends, pile Husband’s art supplies on the floor, and make ornaments. Invites were dispatched, Husband went out for a couple boxes of plain glass ornaments, and I spent all day baking up three or four kinds of cookies and dessert bars.

Call me Martha if you like, but it was great. Everyone gorged themselves on sugar. We got really cozy in our tiny little home, and at the end of the evening we had the most pathetic Christmas tree you’ve ever seen covered in the weirdest, most pathetic craft projects you’ve ever seen. We also had an apartment full of friends with warm bellies from too much cocoa, and big smiles from an evening well spent in laughing at ourselves and loving each other.

Ornament Party I, Circa 2006

Ornament Party I, Circa 2006

A couple of weeks later, as the Christmas decor came down and the radios stopped singing about reindeer and joy, we decided it was time to have a meal without the pine tree. We laughed at the poor thing, and pointed out each ornament again, recalling who made it and why (and what it was supposed to be) and what was said about it and why it was ridiculous. Then, in a moment of inspiration, we unwound the lights, unscrewed the tree stand, and took the tree around the corner to the office dumpster – ornaments and all.

Because if we stored the ornaments (and we had no idea where we would store them), we could laugh and reminisce over them the following year, but how many years would we remember? And what about new friends we’d meet in the next 11 months? So we threw them out with the tree, so that we’d be free to repeat the process the following Christmas season. With the exception, I think, of one year (and one ornament), we’ve hosted our annual Ornament Party every December.

We didn’t really schedule one for this year, because of this unpredictable little person invading my torso. But Monday evening the house was clean, and the Christmas lights were in the windows, and I needed to get out, so Husband and I went up to the hardware store for a cheap-and-easy Christmas tree. Tuesday morning I sent a handful of messages out announcing an impromptu Ornament Party, and a few people with nothing already on the schedule came out for hot cocoa and tradition.

Post Pic Inside 2 Post Pic Inside 3 Post Pic Inside 4 Post Pic Inside 5

It’s not the most eco-friendly tradition, I suppose. Not the most sustainable, or even budget-savvy way to celebrate the holiday, but I don’t care. I will buy two boxes of the same plain, glass ornaments every December if it means getting together with people we love to have some simple, silly fun; eat and drink (Husband has insisted, the past few years, on a pot of chili or something hearty in addition to my mountain of sweets); and redeem an ugly Christmas tree.

It reminds me, every year, that the season is about love, and about people, not about Pinterest-worthy decor and appetizer platters. It reminds me how disposable all the “stuff” really is, and it reminds me that I really am happier in a messy house, with only a few strands of lights around the front windows, packed full of happy friends.

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? What does it teach you, or remind you of, every year?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 December 2012 1:56 PM

    AWWW!!! That’s so wonderful. Now go have a baby.

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