A Story of Christmas Decorations – 10 Years in the Making

This story belongs to Zoe, and I was so moved by it, I asked if I could share it here with all of you too. I was moved because this story in pictures, is a reminder of some of beautiful things about Christmas: family, giving and making memories. It started when Zoe was 8, and she received a handmade decoration from her grandmother. Each Christmas, for the next 10 years, her grandmother made another decoration. Now Zoe is a mother herself, and these same decorations, feature on her own tree.

“My Christmas tree is full of handmade ornaments. My Grandmother used to make us one each year. I love hanging them on my tree. It reminds me of how fun Christmas was, and can be with a little imagination.”

A Story of Christmas Decorations — 10 Years of Memories

1990 — White Mouse

This was the first ornament Grandma made: a little mouse. I remember getting this one and thinking, “Oh wow! It’s so cute!”

handmade Christmas tree decorations -- a story

1991 — Crocheted Bells

Little crocheted bells.

handmade Christmas decorations -- bells

1992 — Bell & Chocolates

A bell that had 5 chocolates tied to it to help the count down of the longest 5 days of the whole year (5 days before Christmas!)

handmade Christmas decorations -- a story 9

1993 — Handpainted Santa

Handpainted Santa’s, all different. My siblings and I all knew which one was ours without even looking at the back.

handmade Christmas decorations -- santa

1994 — Handpainted Christmas Tree

Another handpainted item: a cute little chrisy tree.

handmade Christmas decorations -- christmas tree

1995 — Teddy Bear

Mine is the purple bear; Holly, I named her.

handmade Christmas decorations -- bears

1996 — Golden Walnut

A golden walnut. It still has the nut inside and is surprisingly heavy.

handmade Christmas decorations -- golden walnut

1997  — Peg Reindeer

It’s a toss up between this one and the teddy bear for my favourite. I love this Reindeer.

handmade Christmas decorations -- peg reindeer

1998 — Sequined Balls

Sequined balls. Mine is the purple.

handmade Christmas decorations -- pin baubles

1999 — Golden Bells

Little golden bells. I think Grandma was starting to run out of ideas.

handmade Christmas decorations -- gold bels

2000 — Terracotta Pot Puddings

This was the last year we got an ornament from Grandma. I was 18, so I guess she thought 10 years was long enough. I miss getting them though. I love these ‘puddings’. The detail in them is fantastic. Grandma even put little dongers in them so they act as bells. The white paint on top is really thick, like the icing you get on some puddings.

Christmas decorations -- teracotta pot bells

“I usually just hang them on the tree so going through them brought back so many memories, and has made me even more determined to do the same for my son.”

When I read through Zoe’s descriptions, and looked at the pictures of handmade decorations, I felt emotional. What a precious heritage! The love and care that went into making the decorations is so obvious. I love how Zoe can recall, so clearly, the decorations that belong to her, and what year they were given.

I see these sorts of memories as little anchors. In my own life, these types of memories from my childhood play a part in keeping me steady, even as the sea of adult life crashes around me.  I can draw on the memories when things are tough, or like now, when I’m especially missing my mother (she loved Christmas).

This is such an important reminder for me right now. I have to admit to feeling discouraged sometimes as I parent.  I adore my children, and yet some days, weeks, (even years), I look back and wonder if I achieved anything.  I  so often feel like I repeat the same thing over again, going round and round in circles.

I know my role as mother is important but some days, I can’t see it. I know it, but I can’t see it.

Parenting is all about investment.  It can’t be checked off in a to-do list. It doesn’t quite (ever) go to plan. It’s never finished. A mature mum recently reminded me, “What you’re doing now, believe me, it is all important. You can’t fathom the importance of the seeds you are sowing in your children.”

I think this is part of the reason why Zoe’s story affected me so much. Her story reminded me of three things:

1. It doens’t cost a lot to create a magical childhood

— It’s not about monetary value, it’s about love.

2. Investing in memories is important

— I have the power as a parent, to gift little anchors to my children, which will benefit them in short, and more importantly, the long term.

3. Parenting is all about investment

— It’s like growing a plant from seed. It takes time, and patience, and care.

I’m stopping, right now, to see what memories my Christmas Tree holds.

memories of the christmas tree-1

L to R:

A gift from an online friend in the aftermath of the QLD floods.

Gift from my sister. Reminder of watching White Christmas together.

Made by my daughter at school.

From my Dad who has been in Africa for the past 5 years.

A decoration I purchased with my sisters the Christmas after our mum died.

Made with my my friend Bernie.

angel christmas tree decoration

One of the first ever decorations I purchased with my mum.


When you take down the Christmas Tree, photograph some of the special decorations and make a small note book about what they mean. Add to it every year.

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  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 6:57 am

    What a beautiful story – and what an incredible gift of love and heritage from Zoe’s grandmother! I hope one day I will be a grandmother with a heart that big!

    We have started the tradition of giving our girls a special ornament each year, so that when they move out one day, they will have a collection of Christmas memories of their family. May sound odd, but this year, they’re receiving a large metal antinqued nail to remind us of what baby Jesus came to earth to do as a grown man – to die for our sins and rise again.

    Sometimes I look at our tree with all its mismatched ornaments, oozing with tinsel, and wish for a beautiful colour-coordinated tree you might see in a shop… but when I consider the value of each of our ornaments and their symbolism – or the significance of the giver – I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Thanks for the inspiration of starting an ornament journal to capture those sentiments! Merry Christmas to you and your family Kelly!

  • Reply
    Naomi Ellis
    December 21, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Just love this post. This is what Christmas is all about. Giving and family. What a special collection. N x

  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Beautiful! So important to keep those little things going- wonderful memories 🙂

  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Yes definitely what Christmas is all about the simple gifts given with much love.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks Kelly!!! You did a fantastic job on the blog. It really made me appreciate my decos even more 🙂 Thanks for sharing your memories as well. The angel deco you bought with your Mum us gorgeous and I love the african angel from your Dad as well.
    Lyndell I too look at the ‘perfect’ christmas trees with matching everythings and think wouldnt it be good to have one of those trees but then I look at mine and think no there isnt any soul or love on those trees. Every item on my tree reminds me of family.
    Thanks again Kelly MERRYCHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Anna Millie
    December 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    It was a very special post indeed. Memories are something I think are so important. I hold onto little bits and pieces for the story they tell. I have to say though that I don’t think I ever thought, o mean REALLY thought about the memories my boys will have. What little bits and pieces will they hold in their hand one day to relive a moment with me?

  • Reply
    Anna Millie
    December 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    The comment I just left had a typo in my email address. This is the right one.

  • Reply
    Renee Veldman
    December 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    This is just lovely…we had some special ornaments from my grandmother but I love bringing it in to be a tradition. We also have a few ornaments from the last few years the girls have made at daycare which have made me smile each time I unpack them and realise how much they have grown.

  • Reply
    Kindred Spirits
    December 22, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Kelly this is such a heartwarming post. This is really what it is all about and it is so great to see ! Everyone needs to read this post-belinda

  • Reply
    December 29, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Absolutely lovely post. I will be taking your advice and taking photos of our special ornaments and writing down where they came from for my boys to look back on when they’re older.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2013 at 8:22 am

    we only just got our very own brand new tree last year and i let my boys’ pick one ornaments each.
    they loved looking around the store and picking up each decoration there that i think i’ll be letting them pick one new one every year 🙂 it’ll be interesting to see their tastes change and develop

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