Every year for Christmas, I received a new ornament that in some way “described” the year I had. A car for when I turned 16, a book for the year I went to the state competition for Battle of the Books. I have an entire box of childhood ornaments. Close to 90 percent of them are Hallmark because … well, they just make the cutest ornaments. (My opinion, of course!)
We’ve carried the tradition into adulthood, too. I have a pregnant momma for the year I carried my son, a little porch swing to commemorate our first home, and an apron for the year I got married, to commemorate my attempt at domesticity.
It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions — wondering what ornament I’ll receive, and picking out ornaments for my son so that he’ll also grow up with an ornament box that has his name on it.
I decided to snap a few pictures of my favorites, the ones that help tell the story of my life, and share them with you:
My first Christmas. 1 of 12
This one was lovingly stitched by my own mother. The little girl with a brown ponytail. It's not Hallmark, but it's made with love.
The littlest ballerina. 2 of 12
I took ballet for 10 years, only stopping when it became clear that I would never make the Company ballet due to my height. I was crushed, heartbroken, and I hung up my dance shoes. I still don't know if that was the right decision but in my mind, it was Company or bust. This tiny ballerina mouse is one of my favorites, but I'm never sure if I look at her with satisfaction or longing.https://www.babble.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4402302&action=edit
Rah, rah, Carolina! 3 of 12
I grew up a Carolina (that's North Carolina, thank you!) fan. My grandfather played football there, my mother and all of her siblings and aunts attended, and then she cried for six months when I decided to accept a full scholarship to another school over UNC. Sometimes I think my mother gave me this during my senior year of high school as an encouragement to be in Chapel Hill, but it's also a sweet reminder of all the nights I spent watching the Tar Heels on the basketball court.
A girl grows up. 4 of 12
This little skater is one of my favorites - she's just so cute. Santa left this in my stocking the first year I wore makeup, which is fitting for the girl skating on a compact.
The true meaning of Christmas. 5 of 12
I received this ornament to commemorate the year I played Mary in the Christmas pageant at church. It's a gorgeous silver book that opens and closes. I love thinking about that night when I dressed in pink and blue robes and reflected how Mary must have been scared, but full of wonderment at her task.
From my father. 6 of 12
Remember that little ballerina who didn't make Company? She wanted Company because she wanted to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. My goal in life was to play the Sugar Plum Fairy one day, and my father bought me this working Nutcracker ornament to encourage me. The little book opens and the Nutcracker jumps around while the Nutcracker Suite plays.
For my first job. 7 of 12
When I was 17 years old, I worked at the Great American Cookie Company to earn money for my post-graduation chorus trip to Italy. I spent every weekend elbows-deep in cookie dough, but learned that hard work builds a strong back, and that cookies continue to bake on the sheet for 3 minutes after being pulled from the oven (a solid life lesson).
A tiny teacup. 8 of 12
When I was 16 years old, I started collecting Christmas china. It sounds a little weird, but as a little girl I LOVED eating fancy dinners on my mother's china and fell in love with this holly pattern. This little miniature of the teacups and saucers in my china cabinet is a sweet reminder of all the years I opened boxes of delicate china and piece-by-piece, year-by-year built my collection.
A colorful pinata. 9 of 12
I adored taking Spanish all the way through grade school and when I entered college, I declared it as my minor. By the time I was 20, I was fluent in the language and ready to spend a summer abroad in Spain. World events and a clause in my travel grant kept me from going, but this little guy reminds me of all the years spent learning and loving another language and culture.
Watch out, world. I got my driver’s license. 10 of 12
Yep, I turned 16 and opened this guy the following Christmas. He still makes me laugh!
The handmade kind. 11 of 12
My grandmother made these little mailboxes for me and all my cousins. The little doors open and my mother always filled mine with treats throughout the month of December, kind of like an impromptu Advent calendar.
For those Friday nights. 12 of 12
To celebrate the six years I spent stretching, jumping, and throwing teammates over my head. I loved cheerleading and had this little guy in my stocking the first year I made the school squad.