Christmas was always my favorite holiday, in spite of the fact that there were very few where I could afford to give good gifts or even very many gifts. We raised 4 kids on less than $400 a week for years so saving money wasn’t really that much of an option. Still, I loved Christmas.

When I was a kid, my favorite part of the holiday season was putting up the decorations. My birth mother was a stickler for decorating. She loved putting up all the lights and the tinsel and garlands. It gave her great delight when the angel went on top of the tree and everything got plugged in and turned on. I loved that time too because it meant we got to drag out the haggard cardboard box of ornaments that were the ‘family heirlooms’. These were oddly shaped objects covered in glitter and glue, pieces of tinfoil shaped into stars or globes, cotton balls, colored papers – all of the Christmas ornaments we kids had made over the years. Even though I was just a kid, I loved those ornaments as much as Donna did because for me they represented the few times during the year when there was actual joy and peace in our house.

As I grew up and became a mother, I started my own collection of holiday ornaments that my children made. I treasured each little scrap of paper or popsicle stick. I loved those little cotton balls covered with glitter. With four kids, it didn’t take long to have a big collection!

The year my grandmother died, Donna gave me another box of ornaments. These were the few, vintage glass ornaments she had left, some of which were as old as I was at the time.

Six years ago, when I was moving from a 3 bedroom home, into a studio apartment, I rented a storage unit to store the things that I didn’t have space for, but couldn’t bear to get rid of. Winter clothes, extra craft supplies, years of photography on CD, and things that had belonged to my daddy. And among those items in storage were my pictures of my children and those boxes of ornaments that I couldn’t part with.  And then, in 2016 I went to our storage unit to get ready for Christmas only to discover that the unit had been burgled and everything I cherished was either gone or smashed beyond repair. My heart broke and I was so angry! I didn’t even think about Christmas again until last year.

I could be pissed forever over this, I know. I could hold resentment toward the storage unit facility that claimed they had security with cameras, yet when the police showed up to investigate, the manager admitted that the cameras were dummies. I could be angry with the person who broke into the unit. They probably were looking for items to sell to purchase drugs or booze or something else, I told myself.

But since that time, I’ve come to realize that while the tangible evidence of my past life is gone, I will always have those memories in my heart that someone else can’t steal or take away. I’ll always remember my son telling stories at 2 years old, or my youngest daughter begging to stop opening presents the year after I got the settlement from my daddy’s death because I went overboard with Barbie stuff and our living room looked like a Pepto-Bismol factory explosion.  I will always treasure the memory of my middle daughter learning to crawl on her first Christmas and putting bows all over her head like a crown. I’ll always treasure the very first Christmas with my new baby girl the year my first was born.

I haven’t decorated for Christmas this year. Not because I don’t want to but because I just don’t have space for a tree or ornaments. But that’s not going to stop me from making memories – new ones to replace the ones I lost.  I sent messages to my kids this year and told them what I want for Christmas.

I’d like for them and my new inlaw children, and my grandkids – all six of them LOL, to make me a handmade ornament, so that when I reach my goal, I can hang them on my tree and have new treasures to pass down when I am no longer on this earth.

That Grinch may have stolen the physical parts of Christmas from me, but he can never take it from my heart.

Do you have ornaments or decorations that you’ve collected that mean a lot to you? Tell me about them.