(705) 443-9786 karenssoapbox@gmail.com

For almost 30 years I have put out the same decorations. Some of them have changed over the years but some remain from my first Christmas as a young wife and mother. Others have slowly made their way into my life on different occasions, my second marriage and the arrival of my daughter, but many are from those early days.  As I am placing them around my home today I realize that there are not very many of them that I would buy again, my style has changed quite a bit from the time I was 20. So why in the world are they still decorating my home?

My very first tree as a divorced single mom was made up of bows, there was not enough money to actually buy decorations…dollar stores didn’t exist 🙂 But I did have enough to buy 4 kinds of ribbon and pipe cleaners and I made about 50 bows to go onto our tree in our little one bedroom basement apartment in Toronto. It was small, my son and I shared the same room, but it was my first step at independence and that apartment was full of love and friendship. I don’t have the pull out blue foam couch from Ikea, the two twin beds that we slept in are long gone, but the Santa wreath that broke the bank still hangs on my door every year.

The musical lights I bought for that very first tree, just bit the dust this year!!

My son’s  stocking, that was a gift when he was born, still hangs on my fireplace waiting for Santa. We couldn’t afford an Angel so a beautiful metal star topped our tree, that star is now a decoration in our home. Tonight we will decorate the tree and his Aladdin ornament will grace the tree as it has for 25 years.

For 8 years it was him and me against the world and when I pull out those Christmas decorations I am transported to that first apartment and the little hands that used to help me put up the tree and decorate the house.

Over those 8 years, we moved quite a bit after leaving that first basement apartment, but those decorations followed us, and if the place never felt like home, it soon did as soon as we put up those decorations.  I was able to finally afford an angel and I started to buy ornaments, slowly the bows started to disappear. My fingers were grateful, twisting those pipe cleaners on to the tree, could be a bloody mess, literally!!

By the time my husband moved into our home I had a pretty significant collection of decorations, he brought some with him and we started to collect a few of our own. A new angel, one that matched the decor better. A musical merry go round, that broke the first year we put it out 16 years ago if you hold your tongue just right you can still get it to turn and play music. Yet we still box it up that broken merry go round every year and bring it out with all of the decorations. Why? If it was anything else it would have been thrown out, but oddly we keep that beautiful broken Christmas decoration. Could we afford a new one now? Sure. But we can’t buy the memories.

We will put out ornaments on the tree that we purchased together over the years and we will have those memories added to the tree. The bulk of the decorations were bought for our first home, I haven’t really added much more. Those decorations are all the memories of us starting our new life together. My son and I finding space to welcome my husband into our already set traditions. Transitional years, for sure, but once again happy memories of a home filled with friends, family, joy, and laughter.

I was blessed 13 years ago to have another child and I will admit that not many new decorations have entered the house since she was born. There is her very special stocking, a new Nativity and crafts that she made and ornaments that were purchased for her. She entered a world of traditions already set, much like her father did.  I watched her set up the Manger and some of the decorations around the house and as she placed her stocking in the center of the bunch, I realized how important all of these decorations were to her. She helped me unpack pausing intermittently reflecting on her own memories of everything that she touched. The beaded garland that is 30 years old, bought for that very first tree, but that she has played with every year since she could walk, she has infused with her own special Christmas memories.

I guess I am the lucky one, I get to touch and feel that garland and I can have the memories of both of my children playing with it, as they would precious  jewels and the memories of trying to put it on the tree by myself and the memories of the frustrations of husband and wife putting the dam garland on the tree!!! It is amazing what one touch of beaded garland can do!!

Then there is the Christmas village. I never wanted a Christmas village.  My mother started making a village later in life once all of her kids were grown and out of the house. After she passed away I was asked if I wanted it, I didn’t. It didn’t hold any childhood memories, but I took it anyway because it had memories for my children of their Gramma. Sooooo, the village goes up, not because I love it, but because I love how it makes my kids feel and hell, I miss her!!

As I begin to put the empty boxes back into the basement I realize these decorations that have been around for years have created completely different memories in the hands of everyone who has touched them. I will never have the perfectly decorated Christmas home, some of the decorations are full on tacky!! But every single one has a memory, and fills my heart and my family’s heart with joy!!

My wish is that you find joy in the simplest ways. I know it is isn’t always easy, but if you look hard enough it is there.

In love light and laughter