Editor's Note: The most beautiful decorations of all

"But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.”
– “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”

Like a lot of families, mine takes advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend to unpack Christmas decorations.

When I was a child, decorating the Christmas tree was a big deal. The whole family was involved. There was Christmas music, singing, laughter and lots of hot chocolate with marshmallows. When we finished, we would light the tree, turn off the lights in the room, turn down the music and sit quietly together, basking in the glow.

As I got older, the tradition remained, but I began looking at the tree with a more critical eye. As a “sophisticated” teenager, I cringed at the clumsy homemade ornaments from my younger years. I wanted the tree to look beautiful and elegant, picture perfect, like the trees in the department stores, the ones you could buy pre-decorated if you liked.

I rolled my eyes at the crude clay Christmas trees and the nativity scenes made in Sunday school, glued to the inside of the little aluminum pie tins from frozen pot pies. I tried shuffling them to the bottoms of boxes, taking out the pretty ornaments and shutting the boxes as though they were empty.

But my parents always noticed the missing pieces and went looking for them, then would hang them in conspicuous places on my perfectly coordinated tree. I groaned inwardly as they said, “But I love this one!” – looking at me all the while like I was the one who was nuts.

Mom, Dad – I get it now.

I have some truly gorgeous Christmas ornaments on my tree – lovely creations in colored and blown glass. If one were to break, I would be sad. I might even cry.

But if the popsicle-stick-and-googly-eyes reindeer my son made in preschool were to break, I would be sadder.

If an accident befell the cutesy, not-really-my-style ornament given as a gift to mark our first Christmas as husband and wife, I would cry more.

If the little foam ornament that is the exact size and shape of my oldest boy’s hand when he was only 2 should suddenly disappear, I would turn the house upside down looking for it.

When I was young, I wanted my Christmas to be picture perfect. There are so many beautiful things, so beautifully displayed.

My tree now is not elegant. But the ornaments tell their stories as I hang them – the little glass dog that looks like my beloved late beagle; the Superman figure that commemorates my husband’s recovery from a traumatic injury; the tiny teddy bear in a tiger suit at the end of a keychain, which once dangled from the zipper pull of my college backpack.

The two animal-shaped ornaments, one marked 2006, one marked 2011, and both emblazoned “Baby’s First Christmas.”

And of course, all of the colorful creations my son could bring home from two years of preschool and two years of school.

My Christmas tree is beautiful. It is not elegant. But it is picture perfect.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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