By Cheryl Holmes

My favorite holiday tradition is our family’s individual Christmas ornaments.  It started when our mother and father carefully selected an ornament for our first Christmas.  Every year thereafter six new ornaments (one for each child) were selected for our tree.  Mom carefully dated each so we would recall when and where we were while looking back at the ornaments.

My father was in the Air Force, active duty until he retired and settled down in Citrus Heights, California.  I have ornaments from Taiwan, England, South Carolina, Michigan and of course, California.  When I moved out of our family home, my mom presented me with a box of 18 of the precious ornaments, one from each year to decorate my first Christmas tree.  I carried on this tradition with my son and daughter, and they were both presented with their box of the carefully selected ornaments from each year of their childhood.

When I asked my mother why she started the tradition she said, “Your father and I wanted to be part of your Christmas, even if there was a time we couldn’t be with you.”  While my father passed away 6 years ago there’s not a day I don’t think about him. Carefully unpacking or tucking away these prized ornaments reminds me of Christmases past and special memories with my entire family.

Christmas is always a time for reflection.  It brings floods of memories of years past and loved ones who are no longer with us.  It is also a gentle reminder of how truly fast time goes and the realization that we have typically only 18 Christmases to share with our children while they are still at home.  This time honored tradition has continued into our 3rd generation. I can only hope it goes on forever.