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The Christmas tree is probably my favorite part of the holiday, except for the year we tried LED lights, and the living room felt like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I know the old-fashioned lights are less efficient, and the ecological merits of real vs. artificial trees are debatable, but I love to sit in the dark and look at the tiny colored lights and smell the fresh pine. It’s so peaceful.

Our ornament collection is eclectic, to say the least. Most of our ornaments have some sentimental value, because they were souvenirs or gifts or family heirlooms. Some we love for their beauty or craftsmanship, and then there are others whose primary value is entertainment: they make us laugh or shake our heads or they come with a good story.

On account of Office Dog Graham (a.k.a. ODG, another anagram for god!), we have several legitimate dog-themed ornaments, and then we have the very definition of sentimental value. When his first license expired, we couldn’t part with the tag, so—of course!—we added it to our ornament collection. It’s pretty ugly, but I feel almost superstitious about not hanging it.

One of my husband’s ornaments honors the 1984 World Series champion Detroit Tigers. I don’t usually go for commemorative things, but this is so silly and sweet. (To think there could have been a companion for it this year, not to mention another blog post. So close!)

Talk about silly, I bought Okra Santa at a craft show a few years ago. He has no real sentimental value, but he’s become a favorite because ODG has been known to sing (to the tune of “Oh! Susannah”): ♫ Okra Santa, I’ll eat you off the tree….

If my mom had found Okra Santa at a craft show 40 years ago, he might have been a family tradition. Instead, she discovered teasel mice. I remember harvesting teasel in the forest preserves near our home so that she could make dozens for a Christmas bazaar. When I was growing up there were always multiple teasel mice on the tree, so I’m glad to have my own. Also, he is our only ornament that just sits on a branch instead of hanging.

Speaking of craft bazaars and nature preserves, when I still lived in Illinois, I volunteered at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. One of my projects there was gluing and painting wooden bird ornaments, which the nature center sold. As compensation, I got my own set. They are life-size, and while a life-size chickadee ornament looks nice on a Christmas tree, the blue jay and red-bellied woodpecker are hilariously out of proportion.

I’ve already written about my grandparents’ green thumbs, but they were multi-talented. My grandfather’s hobby was making ornaments from scrap aluminum. A while ago their children and grandchildren divided up his collection, and I got a bell, a snowflake, a pineapple, a rooster, a dogwood blossom, and one that says “XMAS.” Some are more intricate than others, but all of them are well-designed. My favorite is this rabbit with a hand-written price tag:

“1 hour to make this RABBIT  Price $5.00”

I don’t know anything about my grandfather selling these, but $5 for an hour’s labor sounds like a steal, even 20+ years ago, which is probably when he made it. To me, the tag alone is priceless.

What ornaments (or other keepsakes) are unusually valuable to you?

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