Christmas Ornaments

Let’s talk about Christmas tree decorations.

In a previous post, I started going on a bit of a tangent about Christmas Ornaments, and since then I’ve been dying to write a post about them. So here we go.

Christmas ornaments have always been an important part of the season for my family. My brother and I got them as gifts from aunts and uncles every year until we turned 18, old decorations that the two of us made in elementary school are still used to this day, we even still have some ornaments that our grandparents used to decorate the trees that my parents had as children. Now, I collect Christmas ornaments whenever I travel somewhere new. They’re a big deal.

So I thought I’d share some of the stories behind a few of the ornaments that we hang on our trees every year.

This first ornament was given to me on my second Christmas, after I turned 1 year old. I have a series of these ornaments, all the way up to 6, and I think they are just the most precious things. They’re made of porcelain, but they’re surprisingly light so they don’t weigh the tree down too much.

I love them because of how gentle the colors are, and how adorable the little bears look.

I love this ornament. My parents got it for me last year, when we took our trip to Disney for Christmas.

It’s kind of incredible, actually; it’s probably the only ornament in the world that’s both Disney related, and knitting related! That blue ball is yarn, with two knitting needles sticking out of it.

And, even more cool, I found out only as I pulled this ornament out to take a picture that Tinker Bell actually spins! It’s super cute. One of the balls on the end of the knitting needle twists a mechanism, making Tinker Bell twirl. It’s so cute.

This ornament was purchased from the Keweenaw peninsula last fall, when Michael and I took our first vacation together.

We bought them from the gift shop after touring the Quincy Mine. The same gift shop where we purchased matching copper rings that we both wear every day.

I received this ornament from my godmother one year for Christmas. She gave it to me as she used to give me one every year, but this one has a funny story.

The year my aunt bought me this, she herself was in love with fairies. She’d taken to decorating her garden and home with fairies, and so I bought her a fairy ornament that year as well. By chance, we ended up getting each other the exact same ornament!

This ornament is one of my favorites, but my dad hates it! Not the ornament itself, at least not once it’s hanging on the tree, but this ornament takes batteries. And you can’t leave batteries in an item when it is just going to be sitting unused for 11 months. So each year, while I’m decorating the tree, my dad pulls out the screwdriver and batteries and puts the batteries in for me. And he does the reverse at the end of the season each year.

But the reason that this ornament needs batteries is because when you touch the harp strings, it plays music! It’s such a cute ornament, and as a kid I absolutely loved pretending to play that itty bitty harp.

This Scooby-Doo ornament is one of my brother’s, but I love putting it on the tree every year.

My brother and I loved Scooby-Doo when we were kids. We had an old VHS on which we had recorded a few of the really old, grainy episodes, and we watched it whenever we were sick. We also loved some of the newer episodes and movies, and they were one of our favorite things to rent on VHS from the video store (wow that makes me seem old…).

This is the bell that I mentioned in my previous post. It’s not technically my ornament, though it is my absolute favorite ornament that we put on the tree, so I’ve commandeered it as my own.

When you ring this bell, it sounds just like the bell from the It’s a Wonderful Life, when Clarence gets his wing. It’s the sweetest, most magical tone I’ve ever heard.

These pieces are all mini-ornaments from the Hallmark collection. They’re representations of all 12 days of Christmas. They come three to a box, four boxes in all. I bought them in the middle of summer from our local Hallmark store, they were on sale for a dollar per box! They only had three of the four boxes, though, so Michael ordered me the fourth while we were standing in the store, and the others we picked up there and then. I have a small, sparkly white tree that I hang these on, along with a few of the other minis that I have.

The minis are one of my favorite things now. They have some of the cutest designs, and they’re less expensive than the full size ornaments.

These two are a couple of the other minis that I have. They’re the first and second in their series, both came out last year.

If you’re not familiar with Hallmark ornaments, they frequently have sets that come out in a series. Typically, you’ll get one new ornament that comes out each year, up to a certain number that is determined by Hallmark.

Because the series started with two, it’s the perfect marker for how many Christmases Michael and I have spent together, and I intend to keep purchasing each new one as a way of marking each Christmas we have together.

This ornament is one that I got from my parents. When I was very little, I did ballet, and my parents got me this ornament during that time. It’s a Barbie ornament, but I love how sweet and delicate it looks. It’s such a perfect gift for a little girl who likes ballet.

Alright, that’s ten! Obviously we have dozens more ornaments that we put on our tree, but that’s enough for now.

If you managed to get through that whole post, I think you deserve a treat, so here’s one of my favorite Christmas songs, that doesn’t really get played on the radio. It’s called Christmas Is A Comin’, sung here by Bing Crosby.

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Travel Journal: Venice

Let me tell you about Venice.

I traveled to Venice in 2015, following a week in Rome and preceding several days each in Vienna, Prague, and Munich.

So, if this is the middle of my trip, why am I telling you about it?

Well, one of my favorite stories from my travels happened in Venice. I could tell you plenty about all tourist attractions I went to, or the hostel, or the people I met. But for now, I’m going to tell this story.

When I went to Venice, it was one of the first times in my life I’d travelled alone. I’d met a friend in Rome, and spent most of my other travels with others as well. While I learned that I prefer to travel with friends rather than alone while on this trip, I did have a number of experiences that I loved.

So I was in Venice, it was my second or third day in the city, and I’d been walking all day long.

That’s what you tend to do a lot of when you’re a poor recent graduate with extremely limited funds – you walk a lot.

But anyway, I had been walking all day, I’d walked every day for a week in Rome, and so I was exhausted by the time I finally found this basilica.

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Maybe it was because I was so exhausted, or maybe I was just pleased to have finally found the church after searching and getting lost numerous times, but of all the cathedrals, basilicas, and churches I saw on this trip (and there were SO MANY), the Santa Maria Della Salute basilica was by far my favorite.

Salute in Italian means health. I don’t know if that’s why this building felt so much more open, warm, and welcoming compared to all of the others, but it was all of those things and more.

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The way the light came through the windows and reflected off the marble, the openness of the space, it was all astonishingly beautiful to me.

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I found myself more relaxed in that church than I think I was throughout the whole trip.

So, after viewing this gorgeous, comforting complex, I walked out and simply sat down on the steps surrounding the entrance. I basked in the sun and let the warmth wash over me, along with the pleasant din of chatter from the tourists all around me.

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While I sat on the steps, I looked out onto one of the many canals of Venice. At one point a man drove up in a motorboat and parked next to one of the gondolas tied off near the steps.

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I spent the next 20 minutes watching this man attempt to get into his gondola, and it was one of the most amusing experiences of my life.

He seemed to struggle with every aspect of the process, from tying up the motorboat, to stepping into the gondola. All the while, he responded jovially to being heckled by other men in boats, until finally he managed to get himself set to rights.

I’ve never been able to properly articulate the joy of this moment in the re-telling of it. No matter how hard I try, the peace, happiness, and contentment I felt sitting on the steps outside the Salute is impossible to properly convey.

It bears stating, then, the lesson I learned from this.

The moments that you remember most from traveling, and from life, are not going to be the great, important, can’t miss occasions and events. Rather the small, quiet moments in between will be what you come to cherish. Remember to give yourself time for those moments.