What is it about Christmas that makes everyone nostalgic? Is it time spent with family & friends rarely seen? Is it the traditions we pass along to our children? For me, it's mostly the stuff.
That may sound shallow, but my memories are kept in those Christmas containers in the cold cellar. It's the unpacking of decorations, ornaments, & photos that have been boxed up for a year that brings a lifetime of memories flooding back.
My favourite Christmas Tree ornament is a cheap, one-eyed imitation Care Bear made from bright yellow pom-pom balls. It even has an over-sized heart on its bum.
It has had a prominent place on a Christmas Tree for the past 29 years. I brought "Funshine Bear" to glorious life in 1983, at a Christmas Party when I was 5. There he is on the table in front of me - freshly made, both eyes firmly glued on. And there I am, just beginning to master the art of scattering people with naught but a glare.
|1983 Bechtel Christmas Party, Reading, PA|
I have never been in possession of a department-store-beautiful, colour-co-ordinated, professional-looking Christmas Tree. Growing up, our tree was decorated with ornaments that were either homemade, gifts, or from a special occasion deemed important enough to mark with an ornament purchase. Each year there would be a few more, & each ornament has its own story & memory that would get unwrapped every year. And then we covered (I mean covered) them all in tinsel & garland.
Here is that first Christmas with the brand-spanking new, 2-eyed Funshine Bear. I am adorable, so try to tear your eyes away from me & locate the bear. The bright yellow hue is a great help.
|1983, Reading, Pennsylvania|
Three years later, my Mother was hanging more tinsel on the tree when the ghost of a child who perished in that very room in 1847 appeared in the developed photograph. Funshine Bear (& my Mom) lived through this spooky occurrence.
|1986, Newark, Delaware|
In 1992, Funshine Bear (over my Mom's left shoulder) saw my parents off to another Bechtel Christmas Party, where another child probably made a pom-pom Power Ranger that is still on his tree this year.
|1992, Ajax, Ontario|
Funshine Bear is always easy to spot in all Christmas photos, thus adding to the amount of nostalgia he holds for me. You can pick him out easily, which is why I'm pleased he has thus far avoided a life of crime.
|1998, Ajax, Ontario|
When we moved in together & it came time for my future husband & I to have a Christmas Tree of our very own, we participated in the tradition of stealing ornaments from our parents. Funshine Bear was the first thing I begged for, but certainly not the last. I have more than a few childhood memories hanging on our tree.
Here is my son, Kai, at 16 months, decorating the tree while Funshine Bear looks on, wondering why I let my child have a mullet. Those curls don't grow back, Funshine! They really don't. *sob*
|2005, Whitby, Ontario|
Do I love my Funshine Bear? Did my Mom rock the crushed velvet in 1992? Totally. To me, this bright yellow ornament means Christmas more than anything else. It reminds me of every wonderful Christmas I had as a child, & that the time goes by so quickly. I want to make Christmas for my own family as special as the ones I remember. We put a lot of effort into Christmas, from handwritten notes from Santa (in fancy penmanship & sparkly pens), to Rudolph leaving a new jingle bell from his harness every year. It might mean that I'll have a 15 year old who still believes in Santa, but I can live with that.
Funshine Bear gets to hang out on our tree with a delightful assortment of ornaments this year. A drum that my husband made as a child (it's even older than Funshine), a polar bear my son made when he was 2 at The Toronto Zoo, an ELF ornament (favourite Christmas movie), WALL*E (the first movie Kai saw in a theatre), Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws (Kai's favourite movie at 4), & a Hogwarts ornament from The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter because we're cool like that.
|Memories, old & new.|
Like my parents, & I'm sure my In-Laws as well, we didn't have many Christmas decorations when we first started our life together. But over the years, accumulation happens. Homemade, gifts, special occasions, & school projects lead to a full, if mis-matched, beautiful Christmas Tree of memories.