When my Great Aunt died a few years ago, a lot of her things ended up finding their way to my house. Not the valuable things, mind you. Those were divided up amongst the family. The tractor trailer that showed up at my house was filled mostly with the odds and ends of her life that no one else claimed.
Some of the things were old Christmas decorations, kitchy and plastic, but full of sentimental value. Like the mistletoe bell hanging in my living room doorway. Made in Japan right after World War II, when Japan was not the industrial powerhouse they are today.
I remember my mom having very similar ones in the hallway of the house where I grew up, but they didn't have the extra deluxe little elf sitting on the mistletoe ball. I remember kissing my first boyfriend under that mistletoe. Although he protested that it was only plastic and not "real," he still kissed me.
What decorations bring back memories of Christmas past for you?
Do you have ornaments on your tree from your own childhood? Or a snowman sculpture that your child brought home from preschool? How about the wall hanging of a wreath made out of child-size hand prints? And the photos of children crying on Santa's lap - those children who are now too old to believe in Santa but still enjoy the magic of the holidays? Do you have stockings hanging on your mantle that were sewn for each child on their first Christmas?
I have all of these things and more. I like surrounding myself with all the collected memories of Christmases past, remembering all the happy times we've had over the years. From my own childhood right through until today.
My sister makes fun of me, with all my "bins of Christmas" I keep in the attic and unwrap for the holidays. She just called to tell me about a friend of hers who has a special Christmas shower curtain. "There's something you don't have yet!" she cackled. And I'm sure I don't need a special shower curtain just for December.
But who knows? That might be the thing my kids remember most...