When I was a young teenager, maybe 15 or so, my mother gave me my first Christmas ornament. It was actually a pair…a Santa Claus and a Mrs. Claus…both made out of paper mache and painted in bright reds and greens.

And every year after that, she would give me my very own ornament that I would lovingly place front and center on the tree for all to see.

Little did I know that would begin a Christmas tradition that I have continued with my three children. Each year, I look for ornaments that are just a bit different, just a bit special. With a permanent marker, I add their initials and the year somewhere on their special gift.

Usually, the ornament reflected what was going on in their lives. Their favorite animal that year is popular, or a sport that they were involved in. When one would get his driver’s license, a German glass car was perfect. One year I gave them Santas that represented their heritage. And sometimes, it would just be something I liked…handpainted ornaments are especially nice. Many times I would collect them on my travels.

My kids are taller than me now and have collected many ornaments. So a couple years back, I bought each of them their very own 3-foot tree where they can display their ornaments. The trees are in my front foyer, all lit up and decorated.

Another idea is to turn your children’s ornaments into a beautiful keepsake wreath.


They look forward to getting their yearly ornaments, usually presented before Christmas so they can enjoy them. And when they have their own families someday, perhaps they’ll look fondly on these special mementos and continue the tradition with their own children.

Every year when I place Santa and Mrs. Claus front and center on my tree, I think fondly of my mother, now long gone from my life but ever-present in those small trinkets.