Memory tree

An angel with one wing sits atop our Christmas tree.

Tired and worn her fair hair is disheveled and her white lace dress yellowed and faded. She is far from the beautiful treasure she once must have been.

She makes me smile though, this angel.

angel

Christmas two years ago, Dave’s mum gave this precious Christmas decoration to our then one-year-old, Curly-locks. Giving this special memento to a toddler who through no fault of her own would not be gentle with it, was an act of kindness.

It was a case of love at first sight for Curly-locks and the angel, who became inseparable until the angel lost a wing in an overzealous hugging incident.

When we brought the angel out of her safe house over the weekend, a soft smile formed on Curly-locks’ lips and her eyes flickered with the memory of the times they had shared together. There was no question that this angel’s home for the next few weeks would be pride of place on top of our tree.

And what a tree it is – an 8ft beauty which we inherited over the weekend from Dave’s mum. As we decorated the tree, I was quick to discover that we hadn’t just inherited a Christmas tree and box full of mismatch decorations, we had inherited a tree full of memories. As we pulled decoration after decoration out of the box, Dave or his mum regaled us with stories of their origins.

There were stories of friends from faraway places and of adventures to European Christmas markets.

texas

And stories of decorations made by Dave’s grandfather and of decorations that Dave’s nan and mum once had on their own Christmas trees.

bell

Memories and emotions swirled around us as we buoyed between yearning for those no longer with us and knowing that we were passing on the traditions of our family onto the next generation.

tree

A designer tree, ours is not. It is a memory tree, our family’s unfinished story that we will add chapter after chapter to year after year.

Do you have a Christmas tree decorating tradition in your household?

70 comments on Memory tree

  1. Kira
    December 3, 2013 at 5:56 am (4 years ago)

    Beautiful post. It is amazing how small ornaments can bring the memories flooding back. Heirlooms really, passed from one generation to another. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Kira πŸ™‚ It really is a special thing to pass the memories down to the next generation πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Zanni Louise
    December 3, 2013 at 6:10 am (4 years ago)

    What lovely stories and memories…I agree, a tree can and should be so much more than a pretty bunch of branches. Our decorations vary from year to year, but are usually hand made and incredibly random. x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm (4 years ago)

      I love the incredibly random. We have a few of those on our tree πŸ™‚ x

      Reply
  3. Lydia C. Lee
    December 3, 2013 at 6:25 am (4 years ago)

    I love the memory tree – that is the point. Ours is covered in decorations the kids made in preschool and primary, even tho they’re now in High school (he hates it).

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm (4 years ago)

      Lol, Lydia. I will be exactly the same as you when the kids get older πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Emily
    December 3, 2013 at 6:46 am (4 years ago)

    How lovely. I love a Christmas tree that tells stories. I can’t wait to start getting all the kinder-made Christmas decorations from the kids and putting them on the tree!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm (4 years ago)

      They come up with some pretty special creations πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  5. Eleise
    December 3, 2013 at 8:24 am (4 years ago)

    I will never have a matched up Christmas tree, there are too many memories to pull out of the box each year! It is my favourite day!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm (4 years ago)

      How lovely, Eleise! Wishing you an early Happy Christmas!

      Reply
  6. Becc
    December 3, 2013 at 8:47 am (4 years ago)

    Ours too is a memory tree. I also have an angel just like this. It was finally retired this year, but I think I will buy a smaller tree for elsewhere so she can still look over us.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm (4 years ago)

      That would be lovely, Becc. There’s something special about an angel looking down over the tree πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. Carolyn @ Champagne Cartel
    December 3, 2013 at 9:41 am (4 years ago)

    Love this post, Renee! I have to admit to being a real scrooge when it comes to the Christmas tree. I avoid putting it up as long as I can because I hate the mess and the clutter it causes. But once it’s up, I enjoy the memories of all of the decorations, that stretch back to my husband’s and my childhoods. We regale our kids with stories and we sing carols and generally get in the mood we should be in at this time of year! Having said that, husband is away for work until a week before Christmas, so I’m happy to leave it until then. Am I a mean mum??

    Reply
    • Kirsten McCulloch
      December 3, 2013 at 11:05 am (4 years ago)

      I’m a bit the same Carolyn. My birthday is mid-December, and I presume that’s why when I was a child my family never put the tree up until the holidays started, usually the weekend after my birthday. So that’s the tradition we are falling into, though mostly for the mess reason these days! Actually, some years we haven’t got to it until days before Christmas, but now the kids are older I don’t think we’ll get away with that again!

      Reply
      • mummywifeme
        mummywifeme
        December 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm (4 years ago)

        That definitely makes sense, Kirsten. Happy early birthday to you too!

        Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm (4 years ago)

      Not at all, Carolyn! It wouldn’t be right to not include your hubby in the festivities πŸ™‚ It can be a pain to get the tree up and then pulling it down is even more of a hassle. It’s worth it though. You’ll love it once it’s up πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Kirsten McCulloch
    December 3, 2013 at 11:03 am (4 years ago)

    What a lovely story!

    Our tree is similar. It is very much NOT a designer tree, LOL. It is a mix of ornaments we ‘inherited’ from my parents when we first moved in together, ornaments we have bought over the years (not so many of those, but one for each member of the family, and a few for extended family members who have stayed with us at different Christmases), and a load of ornaments we got from my mother-in-law two years back, some of which go back 50 years, which she brought to Australia with her when she moved here from the States. I love it. The designer trees are certainly gorgeous, but they wouldn’t fit in our mish-mash house anyway. I prefer our memory tree. πŸ™‚

    Hi, by the way! I just popped over from IBOT. I would also like to invite you to add this link to my Simple Seasonal Goodness linky at http://sustainablesuburbia.net/simple-seasonal-goodness-celebrating-advent-with-a-difference/

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Kirsten. I will definitely do that when I get home from work. Your tree sounds like a lovely memory tree also. It is so special to keep decorations for so long. The stories that tree could tell πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. Toni
    December 3, 2013 at 11:08 am (4 years ago)

    I have to admit I am a bit anal with the Christmas tree decorations. I think it comes from working in retail for years and seeing the perfectly merchandised trees every day. I did buy a special bauble for bubba this year though so I’m sure it will become a memory tree in no time.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm (4 years ago)

      I’m sure it will, Toni. I must admit I had a few heart palpitations when the decorations weren’t symetrical, but then when the kids are involved in the decorating process it is hard to avoid!

      Reply
  10. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter)
    December 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm (4 years ago)

    I love this, all the memories, that’s what makes Christmas so special. We have a tradition of decorating the treet together. Each year the girls take it in turn to put the star on top and each year we can never remember who’s turn it is so have to drag out the photo album! We also brought home some beautiful angel decorations from a Christmas shop in Germany in 2005 when my husband & I went. There is one for each of the girls and they are the last decorations to go on the tree. They absolutely love those angels. And so do I.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 1:10 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh that sounds so lovely, Jodi. I love the fact you have to get the album out to see whose turn it is. We should start that tradition in our house once Smiley is old enough πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. Kate
    December 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm (4 years ago)

    Beautiful, Renee. Love the idea of a memory tree that can grow with the family. My tree has always been very beachy themed but I’ll have to relax on that now. I won’t give up the job of arranging the lights though, way too important πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm (4 years ago)

      That is an extremely important job, Kate. I love the idea of a beach theme!!

      Reply
  12. Bec @ The Plumbette
    December 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm (4 years ago)

    No, we don’t have a memory tree but I love the idea of yours and how it’s come about. Since Esther was born I have bought her a Christmas tree decoration so by the time she leaves home she will have decorations to dress her tree. I guess that’s building memories in itself because she can reflect on what year she was given what. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, I think that’s a lovely idea and I’m doing the same with my girls. I love that name Esther too πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Rach
    December 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm (4 years ago)

    This is such a beautiful post sunshine and your tree is beautiful. Truly what the christmas spirit is all about πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Rach πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. Josefa @always Josefa
    December 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm (4 years ago)

    What beautiful memories, we have collected Christmas decorations far and wide in our life and our travels. But they will stay safely hidden until the boys are old enough not to bowl the tree over, too important to have them destroyed just yet. Love that angel xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm (4 years ago)

      Lol, yes that would not be good. Fortunately Curly-locks is quite gentle with the decorations, apart from the angel … It will be interesting when Smiley is more mobile though. I think she’s the rascal of the family x

      Reply
  15. Lauren
    December 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm (4 years ago)

    Just beautiful.. Growing up our tree was the same, I was always a bit jealous my friends who had picture perfect trees, but now I really appreciate the memories our tree and it’s ornaments represent. xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm (4 years ago)

      So true, Lauren. I think the girls will grow to cherish it more when they get older x

      Reply
  16. Susan
    December 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm (4 years ago)

    What a lovely post and tree! I loved seeing your Texas ornament, your little Isla putting her very own ornament up- making your girls their own tree trimmings and then seeing them absolutely warmed my heart and made it so worthwhile- thank you, Wilsons! we love you all.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Susan. We love you and Larry too! The girls were very excited to see again the decorations you made them. Dave tried to take a pic of them together, but they just wouldn’t sit still!

      Reply
  17. Jody at Six Little Hearts
    December 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm (4 years ago)

    Aww! My tree is the same. Most of my decorations came from my travels in the United States pre-baby days. Those were days of international travel and shopping galore! Now it has the added touch of children’s decorations and some antique ones I sourced on Etsy. I like to add to it every year.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm (4 years ago)

      How lovely, Jody. Adding a new decoration or two a year is a lovely idea to keep the memories growing.

      Reply
  18. Tegan
    December 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm (4 years ago)

    How lovely it is that your family has a tree full of traditions.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Tegan πŸ™‚

      Reply
  19. Sam Stone @ A Life on Venus
    December 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm (4 years ago)

    I love the idea of a memory tree. That is what ours is becoming now that we have kids. Each year our little miss makes a new decoration for the tree and this year she was telling us stories of the older ones she had made. It made my heart burst.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh it would have done, Sam. That’s lovely!!!

      Reply
  20. Lucy @ Bake Play Smile
    December 3, 2013 at 8:20 pm (4 years ago)

    Gorgeous! I love Christmas trees that have special meaning. Mum still has all of the spray painted macaroni decorations my brother and I made as kids… very cute! Love the angel on the top of your tree! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm (4 years ago)

      Ooh spray painted macaroni decorations sound super fun. That’s so cool your mum has kept them!

      Reply
  21. Rhoda
    December 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm (4 years ago)

    Beautiful story Renee. Every year at Childcare the kids make an ornament with a picture of them to hang on the tree. Hayden enjoys looking at all his ornaments from Childcare days. This year he made a star to go up on the tree he was so excited placing it. Our tree has random decorations too slowly creating memories each year as the kids grow older. Thanks for sharing your Christmas story πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Rhoda and thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. What a lovely idea to make an ornament with a picture of them! I might make some of our own at home like that πŸ™‚

      Reply
  22. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    December 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm (4 years ago)

    Those blue lights really maketh the tree lovely! And I usually try and have a designer tree but this year the kids get the lower levels and I will go all OCD on top half! I also have a tree that is just for them to decorate! Love that this one-armed angel is so special! xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm (4 years ago)

      Hahaha. I used to be a little OCD about the tree and was having minor freak outs when we decorated this one, but the kids love it and it has so much meaning. Have fun decorating your tree x

      Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 4, 2013 at 5:58 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Sarah πŸ™‚

      Reply
  23. stephanie
    December 4, 2013 at 5:31 am (4 years ago)

    so lovely that the tree has been passed on from one generation to the next. My elder brother has the christmas tree that we grew up with and all the ornaments as well, it brings back fond memories for me!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 4, 2013 at 5:58 am (4 years ago)

      I bet it does, Stephanie πŸ™‚ How lovely that he still has it!

      Reply
  24. Katie (@mumabytes)
    December 4, 2013 at 7:24 am (4 years ago)

    How beautiful, Renee! I love a tree with history and meaning. Ours is similar, we’ve been using the same decorations for over twenty years and it makes it so much more special having that sentimentality involved. xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 4, 2013 at 9:44 pm (4 years ago)

      It sure does, Katie xx

      Reply
  25. Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions
    December 4, 2013 at 9:01 am (4 years ago)

    Generally the first Sunday in advent we always decorated the tree when I lived with Mum, and even though most of us are moved out we still go back to Mum’s to help her decorate the tree every year. This year is the first one where Punky really got it and helped us to put up some decorations. I usually sit back and watch and direct the ornament hanging proceedings (can’t have empty spaces!) and then once the ornaments are on it’s my turn to drape the tinsel with Mum (she has that fine stuff that is in thin strips, not the traditional tinsel in a rope). Once all of that is done my brother puts the star on top. When I lived at home and before I had munchkins it was also my job to pull out the lights, untangle them, check they all worked and get them on the tree, in preparation for adding the rest, but that is Mum’s job now and she gets it done before we arrive, makes it a bit easier and fuss-free.

    We don’t put our tree up until December 5th in house as my husband’s birthday is the 4th (today incidentally!) so in order to keep Christmas and his birthday separate I wait till the day after, which is what his Mum always does too (although she waits until the 7th as Dave’s brother’s birthday is the 6th).

    You have a beautiful tree and I love the story behind decorations, they are all so special, no matter how tattered they get. #teamIBOT

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm (4 years ago)

      What a lovely tradition/ritual you have with your family! This was the first year my daughter got really involved too and it is lovely. We used the thin strips this year too. I’m not a fan of tinsel πŸ™‚ Hope you had a good day with Dave for his birthday and have fun decorating your tree!

      Reply
  26. Kathy
    December 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm (4 years ago)

    Love this post Renee – the decoratinons that bring back memories are very special to us too – from the handmade ones the Miss Yin has made, to the ones from our year in Canada and special ones from China. Each year we buy one new special ornament to add to the collection. I even bough our special China ones with us so we could have them for our beautiful real Christmas tree in Canada.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh that’s lovely, Kathy. A real Christmas tree in Canada would have been beautiful. Nice to have a white Christmas too!

      Reply
  27. Jodie@FreshHomeCook
    December 6, 2013 at 8:47 am (4 years ago)

    So gorgeous Renee! I love the idea of the Christmas tree being a memory tree! My mum kept all the ‘decorations’ we made when we were kids – icy pole stick stars & cotton ball Santas etc. – I used to love seeing them each year & hanging them on the tree.

    This year is the first year we have a big feature tree & my little man has already made some ‘decorations’ & put them in the branches. It brings such a big smile to my face every time I look at them. After reading this lovely piece from you, I realise that what we made back them & are making now is our own memory tree & I LOVE it! πŸ™‚ xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s lovely, Jodie. He will love adding to his handmade decorations year after year x

      Reply
  28. Leanne Winter
    December 6, 2013 at 10:10 am (4 years ago)

    Decorating the tree is such a great time for making memories. I think just about everyone has fond memories of this from childhood. Love the angel. xx

    Reply
  29. Emma Fahy Davis
    December 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm (4 years ago)

    What a gorgeous tree, I far prefer the organic, mismatched look to the streamlined, perfect designer trees. Our Christmas tree traditions starts the first weekend in December when we go and pick out our tree at the farm, and then we collect it the third weekend and decorate it as a family while listening to Christmas carols and eating fruit mince tarts πŸ™‚

    Reply
  30. Lauren - Gold Coast Mum
    December 6, 2013 at 10:40 pm (4 years ago)

    Gorgeous post! Love reading about how other families celebrate/ continue traditions πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you so much, Lauren πŸ™‚

      Reply
  31. Alicia - One Mother Hen
    December 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm (4 years ago)

    A christmas that gets added to every year, and those homemade ones by the kids are the best ones of all. Sadly the ones my son made years ago have since lost all their macaroni and charm, time for the girls to add their own now πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm (4 years ago)

      Sounds like a plan, Alicia. We have a macaroni one too πŸ™‚

      Reply
  32. Grace
    December 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm (4 years ago)

    We just bought our first family Christmas tree. I’m looking forward to the memories it’ll give us.
    Your little angel’s smile looks like it’s saying, “I’m watching over all of you…”
    Precious.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      December 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm (4 years ago)

      Yay! Have fun decorating it. I can’t wait to see the pics πŸ™‚

      Reply
  33. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    December 3, 2015 at 8:48 am (2 years ago)

    This is so beautiful – our Christmas tree is a memory tree too, ones that we have made together. Every time we travel somewhere new, we try and buy a decoration for the tree and we’ve got quite a collection now. What our tree lacks in colour co-ordination it more than makes up for in memories! Your tree sounds like it’s full of treasures – what better gift for your gorgeous girls! x

    Reply
  34. stephanie@stephsjoy
    December 3, 2015 at 7:22 pm (2 years ago)

    What a wonderful way to put up the tree, bet the girls enjoyed the stories, and Dave and his mum in telling them. Very special!

    Reply

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