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GeekMom Holiday Traditions: Ornaments with Meaning

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

As a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday. It was always filled with family, friends, tinsel, gifts, and laughter. Traditions changed throughout the years, as all five of us kids grew up. However, my favorite tradition was always decorating the Christmas tree. Decorating the Christmas tree each year was a trip down memory lane; every ornament hung had a story attached to it.

The first Christmas after I was married, my husband and I discussed our favorite Christmas traditions in an effort to join our favorites into our new home. My husband was intent on celebrating from the day after Thanksgiving through Epiphany (in early January). I asked that we only decorate our tree with ornaments that meant something. I wanted every one of our ornaments to have a story that we could tell our kids as they grew up. Each year since then, we have added at least one ornament that represented the events of the year.

First Christmas Ornament by Baldwin. Image by Helene McLaughlin.

The first few years, our tree was filled with memories of vacations, new homes, and a few that had been passed on to us by our families. Once we had our boys, we added two “First Christmas” ornaments to the tree for each of them. We wanted to have an ornament that we would pass on to them when they had their own families. Recently, we’ve added mostly geeky ornaments, each with their own meaning and each representing the obsession of the year.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

Being an avid Whovian, this year we eagerly anticipated the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. We also added the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Glass Ornament and will be adding another new home ornament to celebrate having moved again this year.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

After attending a local sci-fi convention, we added a small Firefly Jayne’s hat ornament that we had found at Quirky Crochet.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

My husband’s avid electronics hobby inspired our set of recycled circuit board ornaments.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

The memory of my late grandfather and grandmother have always lived at the top of our tree: Armed Forces for him and Nutcrackers for her.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

We have a tiny porcelain angel on our tree to remember the miscarriage that we had before either of our boys. We wanted to honor that memory with a happy tradition rather than with something that made us sad each time we saw it.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

The year we introduced our favorite Christmas movies to our kids, we added a leg lamp ornament from A Christmas Story and an ornament featuring the Griswold family tree from Christmas Vacation. Also, we always place a bell somewhere in the tree for It’s a Wonderful Life.

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

When my boys fell in love with Lego bricks, we added a set of three Lego Christmas Santa ornaments to our collection. When they became obsessed with Disney’s Cars, Phineas and Ferb, and Harry Potter, we added a few iconic ornaments to the tree.

Ornaments2013-39

Image by Helene McLaughlin.

When I sit in my living room with a beautiful fire burning and our family stockings hung above the mantle with care, I look at my gorgeous tree and don’t just see pretty little baubles. I see a tree built of memories. Peace, joy, and happy holidays to all.

Merry Christmas 2013. Image by Helene McLaughlin.

Helene McLaughlin

Helene McLaughlin has been a contributing writer to the GeekMom blog since early 2011, encouraged by her husband and fellow Wired GeekDad writer. Before her life as a stay-at-home-mom to two little boys she was a data analyst at the Space Telescope Science Institute. She has discovered supernovae, explored the Orion Nebula, scanned the Hubble Deep Field, processed Spitzer galaxy images, and analyzed countless FUSE spectra. Her love of science started at a very young age and her passion for getting kids excited about science started in high school. She has put on summer camps specifically for 4th and 5th grade girls focused entirely on space science. Helene is an avid photographer. She recently started a family photography business with a geeky flair, Rassilon Photography. Helene is an avid Doctor Who and Torchwood fan. She also loves Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sherlock and her guilty pleasure is Amazing Race.

1 Comments
rockinlibrarian

December 18, 2013 6:57 pm Reply

Same here! I’ve always been bewildered by trees where the ornaments actually match. They may be “prettier,” but so generic! My parents started each of us kids on our own ornament collections from our first Christmases onward, too, which I DID then bring to my own family. Decorating the tree instantly becomes family story time now, like a 3D scrapbook– I find myself telling stories about every ornament to my kids as we decorate. I have ornaments that I fondly remember getting in preschool, which is great to tell my preschooler about now! And now they’re collecting ornaments with stories attached, too. It’s funny, I don’t think I appreciated it as much before as I have this year, so this post is timely!

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