I keep waiting for the day when I will grow up and become Martha Stewart. I turned 34 in November, and it hasn’t happened yet.
What do I mean?
When I look in a Martha Stewart-like magazine, I see women who have created picture-perfect homes, full of trendy decor, and, at Christmas, beautifully put-together, themed trees.
But then I think:
Perhaps I already am grown up, and my style is more of that of a humbled homemaker. And it’s OK that I am not Mrs. Home Decor. In fact, I think my Christmas tree is just fine!
(Not that there is anything bad about the Martha Stewarts of the world. We humbled homemakers truly need your wisdom to inspire us!)
Instead of a magazine-perfect Christmas tree, our family’s Christmas tree is full of stories because we decorate it with memory ornaments.
What are memory ornaments?
Perhaps you will laugh, but all memory ornaments comprise are souvenirs we have collected in our travels. Before we had children (and especially before our low-income days), my husband and I were blessed to travel to many places all over the world–mostly on mission trips.
In my teens and single days, I collected souvenirs on these trips that would would later become trinkets that would clutter my home.
On our honeymoon, my husband and I decided to start a new tradition of collecting Christmas ornaments everywhere we went. That way, we would only bring them out once per year, but when we did, we would have lovely memories of the places we have visited and wonderful stories to tell as we decorate the tree.
When we visit a new place, we try to always look for Christmas ornaments. Then, our souvenir shopping is done!
There is no stress in deciding what to get to remember that place, and we have often purchased Christmas ornaments to give as gifts as well. This takes the stress out of souvenir shopping all together!
On the few occasions where we had a difficult time finding good Christmas ornaments (particularly in Africa and in China), we purchased small trinkets and made our own.
I especially love our hand-crafted, wooden animal ornaments from Zimbabwe! We simply purchased the animals (for rock-bottom prices at a market) and attached a metal hook and ribbon to them to turn them into Christmas ornaments! These were also a hit with our mission trip supporters who we gifted these to as well.
Some of our favorite ornaments include the lighthouse ones from our honeymoon in Cape Hatteras, the clock tower globe from our 4-month missionary stint in Vancouver, BC, Canada and our the LOVE ornament from our marriage retreat in Georgia, during a time when our marriage was hanging on by barely a thread.
In addition to helping us remember stories from these times, these memory ornaments are physical reminders of God’s redeeming faithfulness in our lives.
The ornaments gifted to us from friends and family and those now being made by our daughters also evoke special memories and stories as we hang them on the tree. We often find ourselves reminiscing about these special people in our lives, and it is a reminder to pray for them–even if we have parted ways many years ago (like our friends from when we were living in different states, etc.).
Although it may not make our Christmas tree picture perfect, I love how this family tradition goes along with one of our family values–instilling an international worldview in our children.
In addition to our tree full of Christmas ornaments from around the world, we also decorate with nativity scenes from around the world.
This year, we are also giving our girls a subscription to Little Passports, which we hope will help us further educate our daughters about other countries and cultures!
It may not be a Martha Stewart Christmas tradition, but our memory ornaments are one that I hope will give our daughters fond memories of their childhood Christmases.
How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
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