Our family's first Christmas ornament is of the Mormon temple in Logan, Utah, where my husband and I were married almost 24 years ago. It's a little beaten now, but we still have it.
The next year, we added a son to our family; our 1991 ornament is a ceramic train with his name and the year on it.
Each year we've increased our collection, adding an ornament for each person each year.
Some years there was a lot of inspiration in choosing these ornaments. (I'm excited about the ones I'm giving this year). Some years it was more of an afterthought.
As eclectic and bizarre as they are, every ornament on our tree has (or had) meaning to someone in our family.
My favorite part of our ornaments is the evening we put them on the tree.
After the tree is up and lit, I spread out all the ornaments on the table. We take turns choosing an ornament, sharing a memory about it and placing it on the tree.
(Note: If you want to start this tradition, I recommend writing the name and the year on the ornament.)
Sometimes we have trouble remembering where a certain ornament came from or why we continue to own some of them, which -- in all honesty -- can only be classified as junk.
This does not, however, stop us from sharing a wonderful, warm story about each item on the tree -- even if that warm memory is a little fuzzy or, perhaps, a straight-up lie.
On our tree we have some meaningful ornaments. But more than that I have some fond memories and some great stories. Some -- not all -- of them actually resemble the truth.
I like stories.
I like the collective memory that makes up a family down through the generations.
I tell stories to my children of when my mother or grandmother were children -- as if I had been there. Stories that I only know because they have been told to me. I fully expect my children to pass these memories on after I'm gone.
And, if the life stories are anything like the ornament stories, they will only get better with each retelling.
-- Shelly Norman, editorial writer