The ‘Heart’ of Christmas…


Let’s enjoy a cup of tea by the Christmas tree… and share stories! ♡

Hi Friends!

Trimming the tree has always been at the ‘heart’ of our Christmas season! Opening the boxes of carefully wrapped ornaments feels just like opening a scrapbook of cherished memories. For a long, long time, I had dreamed of a Christmas tree of my own, laden with precious memories…

One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories was visiting my aunt and uncle’s home on Christmas night, after all of the excitement of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning were just happy memories. Each year, as we approached their cozy home in the snowy woods, I looked forward to one of my favorite holiday moments…  seeing their ‘People’ tree, filled with unique ornaments from all of the special people in their lives. I would sit on the rug beside the tree, admiring each ornament as my aunt shared the stories with me.

I dreamed of one day having a special Christmas tree of my own…

filled with one-of-a-kind treasures of love and friendship!


During all of those Christmases past, my family must have noticed how important that special “People” tree was to me… and remembered. Many years later, when I grew up and moved into an apartment of my own, they all joined in to make my special Christmas dream come true!

My aunts quietly sent the invitations for a Tree Trimming Party at Dawn’s apartment to the whole family and a few close friends, carefully keeping the special Christmas ‘secret.’  Festive foods were prepared, Christmas music was ready, and Christmas ‘magic’ was in the air!

I received an invitation, too.

It simply asked me to choose the perfect tree and add the Christmas lights.

My dad created a wonderful Model A Ford Coupe from copper wire. Each time I admire this ornament, I remember all of those summer rides in my dad’s Model A. We just loved to climb into the rumble seat to ride to picnics and parades with his antique car club!

That evening, each guest arrived with two handmade ornaments ~ very special gifts of love! The ornaments were made of wire, sea shells, fabric, nuts and bolts, bread dough, and materials of all sorts. Most importantly, they were made with so much heart!

As the guests arrived, they signed tiny, paper flags attaching their names and date to each ornament, documenting this most special evening!  Together, my family and friends filled my very first Christmas tree with so much LOVE!


My mom stitched her ornaments with love, using fabric from a family quilt. Just seeing the delicate stitches reminds me of the hours she spent creating a beautiful sampler quilt. I’m certain that my love and appreciation of quilts began in my childhood, with my mom’s quilt!

My sweet aunt, whose ‘People’ tree inspired me so long ago, embroidered these beautiful ornaments for my first Christmas tree. Her colorful, wool Santa and Rocking Horse are just filled with love. They hold so many memories of fun times building puzzles, playing Scrabble, and wonderful Fourth of July picnics at her house in the woods!

Special friends brought this pretty, handmade dough wreath, made a few years earlier for their very first Christmas tree. Just seeing this simple wreath reminds me of that year, right after college, when we discovered that the best Christmas gifts don’t have to be expensive. We had so much fun that Christmas baking and painting all of the ornaments for their Christmas tree. A handmade Christmas, from the heart, is always a very special one!


Dear friends shared a handmade, golden origami crane ~ a treasured memento from their wedding day! Every year, I think of them, and our long friendship, as I carefully hang the little crane on our tree.  What a special gift!

As that magical Tree Trimming celebration ended, it was only the beginning of my dearest Christmas tradition! Each year, more special ornaments have been added to my Christmas tree. Each one a true gift of love and friendship


These tiny handmade angels always have a special place near the top of my tree, reminding me of the angels that touch our lives. The little gingerbread house is a sweet reminder of our family tradition of making gingerbread houses as we were growing up. Each year, my brothers spent a weekend with our wonderful aunt making the gingerbread dough and baking the pieces of gingerbread. What fun we had working together to assemble our houses and decorate them with candy! We share these happy memories again and again every Christmas!

So many ornaments were special gifts from my young students over the years… each one holding a precious story.


I will always remember when the phone rang in my classroom, asking me to stay with one young student at the end of the day. His home had burned down while he was in school that day, just a few days before Christmas. His family never knew which ‘secret Santa’ delivered all of their gifts that year, but you can imagine how I felt when he brought me this ornament for a Christmas gift. So many years later, his special ornament still tugs at my heartstrings!

There are ornaments filled with warm memories of so many favorite places I have traveled over the years…


A small, clay jug handpainted by a Native American artisan, in Arizona, is a special gift from my parents. A wooden ornament, that caught my eye in a a small shop in Prague, instantly brings back so many wonderful memories of adventures with a dear friend in that amazing city!


A little, wooden pull-toy mouse, from my visit to the Christkindlmarkt in Germany with dear friends, has a place of honor on our tree. Its string has been carefully pulled by hundreds and hundreds of small hands in my classroom over the years, as we learned about Holiday Traditions from Around the World. Who knows how many future travel dreams this simple, little ornament has inspired?

This delicate, handmade, wax ornament made by a wonderful mother in Germany has been oh-so-carefully hung on my tree for the past twenty years. It holds so many memories of a special Christmas, celebrated with dear friends in Germany. Whenever I see this ornament, I remember the whole family holding hands around their Christmas tree, aglow with candles lit by the Christkindt Angel. Together we sang ‘Stille Nacht’ before blowing out the candles on the Christmas tree. My friends sang ‘Jingle Bells’ in English as a sweet surprise for me!

Our Christmas tree also holds treasured ornaments from my husband’s childhood. For years, we wondered what had happened to all of those vintage glass ornaments. The first Christmas we were married, his godmother gave us the very special gift of the ornaments he grew up with as a child. She had been saving them for so many years. Oh, the wonderful memories these shiny, glass ornaments hold!

Through the years, our family and friends have continued to add ornaments filled with love to our Christmas tree. Now each year, on the day after Thanksgiving, as we unwrap each cherished ornament to trim our tree, all of the stories they hold come flooding back… as if tied with heartstrings.

Smiles and tears of joy fill my heart as each ornament is carefully hung on the branches of our Christmas tree. The tiny paper flags, from that Tree Trimming party, for my very first Christmas in my own apartment, are still attached to the original ornaments. Yet, even without the tags, I will always know the the stories they hold. The people and places that I hold dear fill my Christmas tree… and my heart!

Like opening and closing a scrapbook, these cherished ornaments are the first part of our Christmas celebration every year, and the last decorations to be packed away. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them! They are the ‘Heart’ of our Christmas… for they tell the stories of our lives!

May your Christmas be filled with warm memories and thankful hearts this year!

With joy!

♡ Dawn

P.S.   Which ornament on your tree is most dear?  Hope you will share a story or two with all of us!


17 thoughts on “The ‘Heart’ of Christmas…

  1. You have done a splendid post here, Dawn, capturing the heart of Christmas as you shared such warm memories and fabulous photos of your tree – which could easily be my tree(s) as well. That long ago tree trimming party at your first apartment was truly a labor of love from your aunts and, as I read, the slowly emerging ornaments of your Christmas tree mirrored my own.

    As to our ornaments, there are so many to share. We have wooden ornaments that were on our first tree when we married. They were from Zayre’s. Remember that store? Old Crate and Barrel creations, a felt Peanut’s Woodstock and inchworm from one of my students, a few of my mother’s ornaments and a few of Tom’s mother’s . . ahhh, a lovely post you have given your readers. Thank you.

    • Christmas greetings, Penny! Thank you so much for your kind words. It was so hard to choose just a few ornaments to share ~ for each one has a very special story. I know that you can understand exactly how I feel! Small treasures of the heart that document our lives… Warm holiday memories, Penny! ♡

  2. Dawn – I have tears in my eyes. Such a touching post filled with love and truly showing us your heart. What a special family you have to honor you with that very first tree trimming party and the very special ornaments! The tears poured when I read of the student whose house burned down while he was at school. A great tribute post to a very blessed life. Merry Christmas!

    • Merry Christmas, Jodi! I truly count my blessings out loud every day for my family and friends, both near and far! Thank you so much, Jodi, for being here and sharing your lovely words. Wishing you warm memories and lots of fun during the holidays! You have a special way of making each day fun! ♡

  3. Good morning sweet Dawn!

    Are ya having fun? I AM! Today marks my first day off for TWO WEEKS from school!

    What a lovely anticipation it has been. Your trimmings are sweet and bright! Wishing you a merry holiday! Anita

    • Joyeux Noel, Anita! Enjoy every precious moment of your Winter Break! I know you will find wonderful ways to be creative and spread your special joy this holiday season! Warm hugs, my friend! ♡

  4. This is a beautiful, heart-felt post that brought tears to my eyes. My tree is a collection of ornaments and, like you, I love each and every one especially those from family and friends who have passed away. I bought an ornament box this year and as I pack them away I’m going to pull a sample from different family members, mark it with a tag and pass it on to my daughter. I think your student had it right – you are a special teacher.

    • Christmas greetings, Judy! Heartfelt thanks for your kind words! It seems that those simple, handmade ornaments grow more precious with each passing year. I haven’t even updated the little flags over the years because I treasure the original handwriting from that Tree Trimming party oh-so-long ago! You are giving your daughter a gift from the heart that she will cherish forever! It becomes a one-of-a-kind, special Christmas ‘scrapbook.’ Wishing you warm memories this holiday season! ♡

  5. Your Christmas tree reminds me of my tree. Each ornament has a meaning and it started 35 years ago when I ventured out on my own. How thoughtful of your family to start you off. Have a very Merry Christmas, Dawn.

    • Merry Christmas, Brenda! We are kindred spirits in so many ways! It would be such fun have tea together, sitting near both of our special Christmas trees… sharing the stories. Warm hugs and holiday wishes, Brenda! ♡

  6. What an incredible story! It is so beautiful, so heart-warming, that it almost leaves me speechless {in a good way}. Each ornament on my own tree has it’s own special memories too, but my tree did not have the same treasured start that yours did. I have seen some wonderful trees over the years, but none to compare with this, or your story.

    • Nadolig Llawen, ffrind melys! Deb, your words have truly touched my heart. As I wrote, I gained such precious insights into some of the reasons why I carry Christmas in my heart all year long! My family and friends are such blessings in my life ~ like garden flowers ~ hand picked for the tender stories that they bring to my life. Now I am so blessed to count you among my special friends who make my heart blossom! It would be so wonderful to share our Christmas ornaments while sipping a cup of tea together! Christmas blessings and hugs from Across The Pond, Deb! ♡

  7. Dawn,
    What a wonderful post. I have some similar ornaments in our collection that will always bring fond memories of Christmases past. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. Will it be a white Christmas in your area?

    • Merry Christmas, Karen! Isn’t it wonderful that our ornaments are filled with such fond memories! Just looking at them brings back such sweet times… There is a good chance that we will have snow on Christmas Eve this year. Fingers crossed for a light dusting! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, Karen! ♡

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