The Memory Tree

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Since I was around the age of 15 I’ve complained about one thing… I didn’t think we had any family holiday traditions….

I’d look around at other families during the holidays… I’d see their festiveness and annual excitement and I’d think “gosh, I wish my family had some tradition”….

So as I got older I’d try and find ways to create some tradition for my family… Like Christmas Eve dinners at a nice restaurant or opening presents a specific ways…

And my family would always get annoyed with me…

And I guess I basically believed that my family was so boring and so out of date… And that we didn’t do anything truly cool or traditional for the “Winders”….

So it was ironic tonight… Tonight as I was hanging ornaments on the tree… The tree mom kept bare until Bridge and I got home… So the three of us could decorate it together….

And as we were decorating… Mom said “this tree is a memory tree. I think we should call them memory trees”….

Now every tree is different… The decoration process I mean… But ours… Well ours is unique….

For every place we’ve ever traveled together as a family, mom has purchased an ornament…. We have snow skiers from Crested Butte, Vail and Keystone… Football Santas from the years we went to NOLA for the Dome… Several starfish from the beach…. Christmas in NYC…. Disney Princesses….

And then we also have ornaments for the activities we did… Cheerleaders…. Ballerinas… And of course BAMA football…

And then there are the ones made to put pictures of us in when we were kids…

And of course their are the handmade ones from preschool…. Mom loves those the most….

And we can’t forget “the three bears”…. Not sure where they came from… Or the toys that mom turned into ornaments because we loved them so much….

And true to Andrea form…. Each ornament has a date on it… The year we got it… And some of an extra kick like “ECA”….

But the beautiful thing was… As I unwrapped each special ornament… I began to realize mom’s words are so true…

Our tree is a memory tree… Because it’s full of moments we shared as a family… It’s a reminder that we went “there” and did “that”….

And with the absence of dad this holiday… Well the tree and the ornaments are that much more special and close to my heart…

And in the midst of all the decorating… I got lost in the moment and realized… We do have a tradition…

And all of those years I spent wanting one… Well we were creating one as a family… And now we have this beautiful tradition…. One that I hope to pass down to my kids and grandkids…

I get that some people like their ornaments to look the same and fit a mold of specific color…

But I feel like ours is just right… Because we are the Winders… And we have a beautiful story to tell through our memory tree…

And in a few years… When we look back at the Empire State Building…. Olaf… And Mary Poppins…. Well… We’ll know that was the first Christmas without dad… But more than that… We’ll be able to remember that was first Christmas we changed the name of our tree….

And you know what…. I’m more than ok with that…

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