December 2016 Column Winner

Ornamental Memories
Kindra Coffman, Tri-County Herald

We put up and decorated our Christmas tree this week. I looked at the tree this year and thought of Jarred’s and my first one 11 years ago. It was adorned with color-coordinated bulbs, bows and ribbons placed symmetrically all around it. I took pride in how “perfectly” decorated it was.
Our tree looks a little different now. It is covered with memories of our family’s lives.
A tiny Spider-Man hangs upside down from a branch, looking at a paper elephant my Mom may or may not have stolen from a parade float years ago.
A Dalek lives under a large cupcake, somehow coexisting peacefully with a giraffe and a rubber duck.
A My Little Pony friend prances between snowmen, gingerbread people and a smiling S’mores treat.
Teddy bears, angels and snowmen grin from the tree, telling stories of special moments from previous years.
The gingerbread man joined the tree the year then-preschooler Raiden learned to recite the Gingerbread Man story from memory.
It was that story that made him realize how much he enjoyed books. Now he reads far above his grade level because of his love for stories.
Lions, zebras and hippos remind us of sweet first visits to the zoo.
As we decorated the tree, Aaliyah and Raiden talked about each ornament they hung. They proudly showed me details of each handmade tree, reindeer and candy cane, fondly remembering the teachers who had helped them craft the ornaments.
Aaliyah asked me about a small, colorful tassel I had kept. I explained that it was a gift from a South Korean student who had attended the English as a Second Language school where I’d worked when Jarred and I married. It’s a reminder of friends made from all over the world.
A small Hershey candy bar wearing a Santa hat brought back memories of the summer I was 16 and took a cross-country road trip with my young cousin, my Granny and Pawpaw Kenneth, who passed away four years ago.
A Noah’s Ark ornament is haphazardly swinging from the lowest branch because toddler Melody proudly hung it herself. It will probably fall off long before Christmas morning, but for now she can see her contribution to the tree.
Our tree may not be symmetrical, matching or look pretty enough for a magazine now, but I think
I prefer it the way it is now.
Somehow, it’s prettier to me than that “perfect” one years ago was.

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