Monday, November 30, 2009

Made with Love

We were in Michigan for Thanksgiving – it’s only the second time we’ve been away from our extended family for a major holiday. It’s definitely different but it wasn’t different bad, just different. We had a couple from our church join us for the turkey dinner – they’re also expatriates up here. It was good to hear other Southern accents around our Thanksgiving table.

Since we weren’t on the road for 13 hours on Saturday we decided to get out the Christmas decorations. And thus began the annual fight between me and Sean over store-bought ornaments vs. home-made ornaments.

I grew up with an almost exclusive homemade ornament tree. Between my paternal grandmother and my mom we had hand-made ornaments coming out our ears. My grandmother made gobs of the felt and sequins ornaments and my mom hand-painted wood ones. I never understood why anyone would buy an ornament – didn’t everyone’s grandmother and mother make tree decorations crafted with love?

Sean, however, grew up with commercialized, mass produced ornaments. This was obviously not enough of a problem to keep us from marrying, mainly because I didn’t know about it until our first Christmas (difference #569, in case you’re counting).

We bought a huge tree and after we put on my made-with-love ornaments he wanted to put up some of his. No problem, I thought, until I saw he was opening boxes and hanging glass globes and stuff sold at Hallmark. Back that sleigh right up, mister. “Yeah, I don’t think so,” said I, because I assumed as the woman of the house I got to decide that kind of thing. He was not backing down, so we compromised: all his ornaments could go on the back of the tree.

So now, each Christmas we have the same debate. I want the homemade ornaments prominently displayed, and he wants to plug in his Star Trek one that tells us to live long and prosper. It’s gotten worse because my mother, crafter of homey ornaments, now send us store-bought ones (which she personalizes so there’s still a loving touch attached – that’s how I sell it to myself). And Sean’s mom has given us enough ornaments to outfit eight trees, and the kids love them all.

Why I didn't think of this before, I don't know, but this year I suggested we get a second tree dedicated to the store-bought ornaments, specifically the car ones. How could a whole tree be dedicated to car ornaments, you ask? Have you met my husband or my son? We must have 50 ornaments of all types of cars. When I mentioned that idea you’d have thought Sean and Michael won the lottery. “Yes! A tree just for cars!”

I may have lost the war but I have not surrendered, and this year I finally figured out how to have a tree full of love and sweet memories, and one for those other decorations. Which, truth be told, have some pretty special memories, too. Just don’t tell my grandmother I said that.

Rebecca made place cards for the Thanksgiving table, "Just like Grandma!"

Hand-made, just like I like it!

Standing in front of the tree of love - majority home-made ornaments, like...

this Santa Claus, and...

this Christmas wreath, and...

this creation by Rebecca, made from pipe cleaners.

My mom sent this Toy Story ornament to Michael this year - even though it's not homemade I must admit it's growing on me. That Rex is awfully cute.