Monday, January 18, 2016

Our Memory Tokens

Today is the day I finally took down the Christmas tree.

Yes, I'm one of those ecstatic Christmas lovers who strong-arms her husband into putting the tree up before Thanksgiving and then, begrudgingly, packs it all away mid-January when the last dregs of holiday magic have melted away. I think I stall to hold on to memories of the last year, fighting against the new. I'm not a person who does well with change and the New Year isn't something I welcome.  But when the day finally comes, I look at each ornament in my hands and reflect.

Ten ornaments in particular hold particular memories. These ornaments are thoughtfully planned and created by myself and my husband, then exchanged on the the 23rd of December. It marks our quarter anniversary (our wedding anniversary is July 23) and so it's a special day set aside during the bustle of the holidays for us to pause and share together. I'm not sure how we originally decided the date or the activity. My husband says it was an idea to slowly fill up our tree with personalized ornaments, which rings true. No matter what the origins, it is by far my favorite Christmas tradition.

Our first Christmas is one my favorites. I made for him a bacon (Lord Bacon III, he was later dubbed) and my husband gave me an owl he had painted. The owl looks startled . Maybe he felt threatened by the strange look that Lord Bacon gleefully cast upon him because we quickly accumulated a flock.

Our first owl now leads a legion of startled owls. We adore each one.

For example, this mottled owl is Winifred. Our cat Milton, upon being first introduced, nabbed her off the tree and ran away with her. After much chasing, Donald finally cornered Milton under the bed and rescued Winifred. She was restored to her rightful perch, but she's never lost her wary expression.

Our second Christmas was our first Christmas with Mayhem (pictured left) and Milton (right). The babes. Weren't they adorable? Still are, but not quite so small.

We exchanged a whale (for Donald- his name is Jonah) and a queen piece for me (because I'm his queen). Commence the awws. Each of these was made from scratch. Donald carved the queen's piece and I crafted the whale from buttons. Thank goodness for craft glue and Pinterest, both necessary to complete Jonah's form.

Our third Christmas we unintentionally color coordinated.  That summer, we watched the Legend of Korra together and so I gave him an Avatar ornament crafted from Polymer Clay. It was my first adventure into clay and it turned out well, but I swore never again to work with it-- the potential for burning your creation in the last stage is nerve wrecking. (I re neg on this promise, as you will see later). My husband gave me a beautifully stitched ball with the bells from Milton and Mayhem's first collars inside. I'm amazed by his patience and creativity.

Our fourth Christmas was after Frozen took over the world with its many editions of "Let it Go." Despite its overwhelming popularity, I still loved the movie. Donald made for me an Olaf out of polymer clay. This was his 14th Olaf. His standard is excellence. He wasn't satisfied, trying different techniques until he created the perfect gift. Sadly, we do not have an army of Olafs to balance out our owl hoard. Instead, he gave them away to his coworkers. Can't you hear them chanting, "I like warm hugs!"?

For him, I created a cactus out of felt and pins. He loves cacti and I thought she was too cute to pass up. Her name is Kati; Kati the Cactus. Fits her, right?

Our fifth Christmas catches us up to the present.  I broke my promise to never tackle Polymer Clay again and instead made a rhino (his favorite animal) with a companion atop its head. If you search for clay rhinos, you will find some very...umm...interesting interpretations. I didn't have many finished products to base my study off of, so I used the real-deal images. I think he turned out rather well, if I do say so myself.

As for my gift, he crocheted me a cup of tea (my favorite beverage). Did I mention it was the first thing he had ever crocheted? He just decided one day, "Hmm... What have I never done before? Oh, I know. Crochet." Then he does the research and voila, a perfected stitched result.Again, highly impressed. His diligence and creativity never cease to amaze me.

We hope to continue making and exchanging new ornaments every year, until every ornament on our tree is unique to us, each one telling its own story. But now these tokens are nestled away, safe and sound until Christmas comes round once again when we will unpack them and smile at the memories they bring.

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