Our tree doesn’t have a theme. Unless random bought and handmade ornaments, some dating back to the 1950s, maybe even the 40s is a theme. If so, that’s ours.

A couple years after my husband and I married, my paternal grandparents gave us a few boxes of ornaments from the past. Some homemade by their children, some given as gifts to them. My favorites are the two toys from Germany that belonged to my dad as a boy. My grandma made them into ornaments as keepsakes.

Every year, I love going through them as we decorate, the one’s I’m not sure of, guessing where they’re from. Observing the detail on the faded colored balls and admiring the pineapple pieces my grandmother collected later in life.

As a child, decorating the house for Christmas was a big deal. We put on Christmas music, got out all the boxes from the attic and a storage space under the stairs.  My mom always had the duty of putting on the tree lights. For some reason we would unbox all the ornaments and then put them on the tree, rather than doing it one at a time. I think we liked that it gave us all a chance to be reminded of every one. It was like opening a present every time. I was excited to see the small figurines or handmade angels that had been stored the whole year. My sister and I even had a Barbie ornament collection we enjoyed playing with.

This year, my daughter helped me sort and hang our ornaments, while my husband put up the lights on the house. She loved opening the boxes and trying to figure out what each one was. She asked questions about them and I told her the stories I knew.

Though I love admiring some of the themed trees I’ve seen, a themed tree will never be what we have. It’s just not our style. My aunt has always called it a “Texas tree.” I tried to look up the term, but nothing came up. But that’s what I call it. Our random Texas tree.

I’ve always been a believer of traditions. Perhaps I like the stability it provides, rooted and continuous. Maybe it’s because I like storytelling. That’s what traditions are; stories and/or actions told from generation to generation. And decorating our home is one of our traditions. Our own hanging of the green.

Decorating the tree will always be important to me. Even when my husband and I have an empty nest, I would like to think I will still go through all the motions of bringing out ornaments and putting on Christmas tunes. I’m sure there will be pieces I’ll pass down to my daughter, if she’ll have them.

What is your tree style?


Justa Lanie Garrett is a lifelong resident of Baytown.

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