My Christmas Tree Tour: 2016

You may have seen MTV Cribs, but no flat footage of any million dollar mansion will prepare you for what you’re about to read. This is my Christmas Tree Tour: 2016.

Sam Blanc

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Each person in our family gets to pick one new ornament each year. That’s how it’s worked ever since I was little. Looking back at the ornaments I picked can be very cringy, but also pretty nostalgic. When I was little it was mostly handmade thingamajigs attached with paperclips and string, but there’s definitely some memories on that tree. From ornaments documenting my 2-3 year obsession with Doctor Who to a picture from my first–and probably only–convention (I just don’t have the stamina), it’s nice to look back and think ‘what the heck was I doing in seventh grade?!?’

Our tree is for the whole family, not just the Christian side (which is pretty much just my mom at this point). My dad has lots of ornaments, most of them representing the White Sox and his love of ice cream, but this one is probably the most memorable. I mean, how many people can say they have a menorah on a Christmas tree? Christmas may be a Christian holiday, but our Christmas tree is for everyone. One of my favorite things about Christmas is that, despite its origins, it’s just as much about about music, and lights and spirit as it is about Jesus.

I’m sorry if you’re reading this, Madame Vlasic. This ornament is the bathroom pass from my seventh grade french class. I walked out with it one day, forgetting I’d put it in my pocket to avoid the arduous exploit of holding a piece of plastic, and it never really made it’s way back into the classroom. Call me a thief if you like, but I don’t think too many nights were wasted speculating the fate of this plastic frog. Whether it’s a gift or a stolen good, I think our tree says something not just about our immediate family, but about the people we come across in our lives.

It’s not all good memories, of course. Last year my ferret died, and although the death of the animal equivalent of a matted feather boa might not seem like a lot, I missed the little guy. I used my ornament last year to remember him. It’s just a plain circle of grey clay with his handprint, and a very faint hand print at that–he was hardly strong enough to press down his foot. But running my fingers over it, it makes it seem like he’s still kind of here.

These are the weird ones–and yes, I suppose I’m proclaiming that a middle school hall pass and a stain glass menorah are not weird Christmas ornaments. It’s become a more recent tradition of ours to scour the north shore for the weirdest ornaments we can find. This scraggly rodent complete with bent wire eyeglasses, for example, was given to my mother by yours truly. These are for the years that no one dies, that no one feels the need to express any deep-seated emotion. They make us happy, and I think that’s my favorite thing about my Christmas tree. I love Christmas: the snow, the lights, the music, the gifts, but more than anything I love looking at my plastic tree full of wacky nick nacks and memories.

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