O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree. How lovely are thy ornaments…

Every December, we find ourselves wrapped up in holiday traditions. My favorite ritual of the holiday season is adorning our Christmas tree. I am fully aware that it has very little to do with our reason for the season in the birth of Jesus Christ, but I do love its presence nonetheless.

If the ornaments on your tree could talk, do they have stories to tell?’

Is your tree adorned with memories that represent your life?

A friend showered me with meaningful gifts and conversation as she couldn’t be at Nix’s adoption day festivities. One present that she gave me was this beautiful Christmas ornament.


It is perfect because we didn’t have a symbol gracing our tree of this momentous occasion. My friend and I then beamed, talking about our similar Christmas trees full of life and memories through the years.

Our legacy, memories, and purpose will only live on if we are intentional in sharing them. 

You can probably tell all the tales represented on your tree. But, can anyone else in your family? We are the memory keeper, but we also must be the storyteller.

The passing of time dilutes our memories, so we must write them down. Likely, we will not remember one day why we ever bought that coffee cup ornament in the first place in the world.

5 Ways to intentionally bring more meaning to your Christmas tree

1. Date your ornaments


Use a small black sharpie and date the bottom or side of ornaments you collect along your travels or that bring significance to a certain year. Adding this personal touch is a simple way to bring meaning to your treasure.

2. Store special ornaments with a photo or handwritten note telling its story

Decorating your tree will be a walk down memory lane as you pull out each ornament to hang upon the branches.

Store meaningful ornaments with a photo or notes that go along with them. It doesn’t have to be an essay, perhaps just a handwritten note on the back of a photograph. Do this so that your precious family collection will continue to mean something to others when you’re gone.

Stories keep us present to the past. Without meaning, your little treasures may be discarded tchotchkes one day.

3. Chose an ornament representing every year


When our kids were born, I started collecting ornaments and storing them in decorative keepsake boxes for them. For years I chose ornaments for each child until I realized that this is a difficult tradition to keep up when you have many kids and only one tree to display all of the fun. So the kids’ collections are mostly from their first five years of life.

I even started (that being the key word here) ornament collection scrapbooks for my kids so that I could pass on the stories of why each one exists.

Remember that your kids will leave and take their ornament collection with them. Just make sure this won’t leave your tree bare and lifeless one day. I loved what this Mom did with her tree when her kids all left home. Why not start incorporating photo ornaments like this now?

4. Honor loved ones who passed away with remembrance ornaments


I have chosen ornaments that represent close loved ones when they have passed. Not that we will ever forget them, but I love that I notice those ornaments walking by the tree and am reminded of that person more often.

5. Purge meaningless ornaments

If no one can recall why you have a particular ornament, get rid of it and make space for one of meaning- unless it simply makes you happy even with no story attached.

O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree. How lovely are thy memories. Thank you for being a faithful reminder every year of all the blessings in our lives. Merry Christmas to you!

2 replies
  1. AmyRyb
    AmyRyb says:

    Funny you should write about this. I have a tree full of ornaments with meaning. My now-passed grandma got me a Hallmark Keepsake every year for probably at least 25 years of my life–usually in line with my interests–and my mom has given me an angel every year, so those alone take up a lot of my tree. Add in various first Christmas ornaments–marriage, house, two babies–along with some I made as kids, ones my kids have made, many we received as gifts, and a few my husband contributed, we have a FULL tree. I love the meaning of mine but never thought to document it all. However, I have a conundrum. The other day I started to feel guilty that my boys don’t have the same collection of ornaments that I do, which means they won’t have their tree full of memories like me. But they’re boys so maybe they won’t care. Case in point, my brother didn’t even put up a tree for years, despite having a good collection himself. But with an already full tree myself, I’m not even sure what we would do with them all aside from setting up a second tree, which we don’t really have room for right now. I could put them away, but I’m not sure it’s worth the money for something they may not even appreciate years from now. But time is passing so quickly and I feel stuck! Not sure what to do, but I do like this post a lot.

    P.S. – Congrats on the family expansion! I realized I must have missed something so I looked at your social media and saw your IG pic. You are an inspiration! Congrats!

    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      Hi Amy! Love the tradition that your Grandma and Mom started for you. No one passed any ornaments on to me so I started with any empty tree. I agree that boys won’t be into ornament collections necessarily. I haven’t even been able to get them to take them out of the box to put them on the tree in recent years! You will be able to hand them down the ones they made in school and the ones people gave them, etc. You never know if you will have a granddaughter one day who would probably LOVE to have some of those precious ornaments on her tree, especially if she knows the meaning behind them! Merry Christmas!


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