The ‘Heart’ of Christmas…

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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!

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Christmas in Bloom

 

 

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Just stepping into the Conservatory on a cold December day warms my heart!

Hi Friends!

Just last week, I visited the Conservatory in a nearby park to enjoy the colorful Christmas blossoms. Ever since that sunny visit, I have been thinking about my favorite holiday flowers…

Poinsettias have always been a part of our family Christmas celebrations. I have sweet childhood memories of guests bringing my mom a beautiful Poinsettia at Christmastime. I often wondered what made this flower so special? When I began decorating a home of my own, my mom, aunt, friends, or neighbors would surprise me with a beautiful Poinsettia plant for my December birthday. Often there were many colorful Poinsettias here!

Now I realize why these flowers are so cherished…

Can you guess why these beautiful blooms are such a heartwarming part of my Christmas?

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Poinsettias come in so many different colors…

 

 

Another Christmas flower that warms my heart is Cyclamen. Its unique heart-shaped leaves show off delicate flowers that dance upon long, graceful stems. Many years ago, I ‘discovered’ Cyclamen while visiting Germany at Christmastime. During that wunderbar Christmas visit, I was enchanted by the Cyclamen plants blooming on my friends’ windowsills.

couldn’t wait to bring that Christmas tradition to my home!

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Cyclamen

Now each year on my birthday, my husband surprises me with pretty Cyclamen plants for our sunny dining room. This Christmas, they are gracing an antique wooden box on our dining room table. Every time I gaze at their blossoms, I remember my faraway friends and my unforgettable Christmas in Germany!

Cyclamen and Poinsettias

have become such an important part

of our Christmas celebrations here at home.

Beyond their beautiful blossoms, they hold precious memories.

 They are a special part of our family stories now,

celebrating so many precious people

who will always be part of our lives.

 

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The Conservatory has a wonderful kaleidoscope that allows visitors to focus on different flowers. It is amazing to study Poinsettias and Cyclamen through the lens of the kaleidoscope. What intricate designs it creates! Take a peek…

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Amarillys, Paperwhites, Christmas Cactus, Star of Bethlehem…

In Christmases past, I have grown and enjoyed them all.

Each blossom brings so much beauty on the coldest of winter days.

Amaryllis {Photo Credit}

 

Paperwhites     {Photo Credit}

 

Christmas Cactus {Photo Credit}

 

Star of Bethlehem {Photo Credit}

 

Yet for me,

the most heartwarming Christmas flowers

will forever be

Cyclamen and Poinsettias,

for they have stories to tell that make my heart sing…

and stories truly do matter!

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Pale pink Cyclamen and bright pink Kalanchoe

Yes, flowers are always a special part of Christmas at our house.

But I hope you’ll come visit again soon,

for the most special stories

are waiting to be shared.

 Next time…

May your Christmas bloom with happiness!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What is your favorite Christmas flower? Hope you’ll share your stories!