Hanging Travel Memories on the Tree

A frazzled snowman in Banff’s year-round Christmas shop.

When I was growing up, my mom would give me an ornament each year. The ornament would often symbolize something important that happened that year, or some new interest of mine. The year I got my driver’s license, I got a car ornament.

Once I got married, the ornaments went into a box, since my husband had no such collection, and I wanted our Christmas tree to be ours, and not dominated by my own childhood memories. We loaded up the tree with as many red and gold ornaments, garland, and beads as it could hold. It’s quite elegant and pretty.

But in recent years, I’ve missed the nostalgia of pulling out the individual ornaments and hanging them on the tree, the yearly reminder of meaningful life experiences. What’s important to me now, and what experiences do my husband and I share together? Our travels.

So I’ve started purchasing an ornament during each trip we take. (Sometimes it’s a magnet or a keychain that is easily converted into an ornament by way of a hot glue gun and some ribbon.) This year I got to reminisce about our trips to Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Banff National Park. Pulling out these ornaments at Christmas time reminds me how much I have to be thankful for during the holidays, and how fortunate we’ve been to be able to visit so many memorable places.

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