Finding That Christmas Spirit

Christmas seems to be coming in a rush.  It doesn’t help that Mother Nature is acting like a menopausal wreck with thunderstorms and 70 degree weather making it feel like April in Atlanta instead of December.  Not to mention that I had a book releasing this week and cover copy and edits due on two other books, pushing the whole Christmas shopping, holiday decorating, cookie baking scenario right out the window.

I finally grabbed a couple of hours this morning to decorate the tree—because, really, no one else in the house was going to do it.  Normally, it’s one of my favorite holiday jobs, but this year I wasn’t into it.  It’s that whole artificial tree thing again.  Last year at this time, I blogged about our family’s transition from a real live, sweet smelling tree to a plastic, unscented model.  (You can check out that blog here.)  For the sake of my men folk, we’ve decided to keep the allergy aggravating stuff outside the house from now on—including during the holiday season.  As much as I hate an artificial tree, I hate the nebulizer and coughing and wheezing more.

All it took was a look inside the ornament boxes to change my negative mindset, though.  As I unwrapped and hung the ornaments on the branches—branches that didn’t prick me or bend under the weight of my precious ornaments—I realized that it doesn’t matter whether my tree is real or not.  It’s the actual the ornaments that tell the story of my family’s journey through Christmas’ these past twenty-two years.  Like my family, our tree decorations aren’t fussy or pretentious; they aren’t fashionable or organized.  They’re just pieces of the story of who we are and where we’ve been.

Take, for example, the porcelain ornament depicting the North Gate in Seoul Korea. northgate I picked it up when I worked for NBC sports during the 1988 Summer Olympics.  My husband has had to glue it together at least twice when it tumbled off a tree branch onto the hardwood floor.  (Score one for the artificial tree.)  It looks a little gnarly after all these years, but I couldn’t imagine it not being a part of my Christmas tree.

The handmade ornaments that have survived since my kids were in preschool get hung first, up near the top.  reindeer ornamentSome are made out of actual gingerbread and others out of Popsicle sticks and googly eyes.  Still others are Sunday school creations made of origami.  One was made by my niece out of a piece of ribbon and some beads.

We have several lighthouse ornaments.  One from each lighthouse we've visited.

We have several lighthouse ornaments. One from each lighthouse we’ve visited.

Interspersed among the Solheim originals are the fancy Lennox and Wallace ornaments.  Ornaments from the White House are mixed in with balls filled with sand from beaches we’ve visited.  There are horses and dogs, marionette Santas all the way from Germany, gingerbread men and reindeer.  There’s even a set depicting historic Glyndon, Maryland where my husband grew up.  The candy canes are wooden ones that my Grandmother used to hang on her tree.

We love our sea turtle!

We love our sea turtle!

After nearly three hours of hanging ornaments, I wasn’t so glum about our regal artificial tree.  Every year from here on out, it will be the vessel for displaying all the memories that our family has stored up through the years.  And just like a corny TV holiday show, I’d found my Christmas spirit exactly where I’d left it—in the boxes filled with ornaments.

Happy holidays to all of you!

Do you have a favorite holiday decoration?  Tradition?  Care to share?

About Tracy Solheim

Best-selling author of the Out of Bounds series--sexy, contemporary sports romance novels. See what she's up to at

Posted on December 6, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I dread putting up the tree and all the decorations, too, because I’m the only one who will do it! By the time I open the ornament box, I’m pooped and ready to plop. But just like you said, all those ornaments reminding me of years past–especially the ones made by the kids–perk me right up. My daughter loves to help with the tree and she helps rejuvenate my Christmas spirit, too. Merry Christmas to the Solheim family!

  2. Tracy, love this blog! Your tree sounds just like ours. Every year it’s like seeing the ornaments all over for the first time. I wouldn’t trade ours for all the “designer” trees in the world. And ours is fake too. I love the lack of maintenance and the ease of hanging ornaments. I have a lovely Thymes Fraser for candle that makes the house smell like a real tree. 🌲

  3. When my mom was alive we would come home from Oklahoma for Christmas ..we-which meant me, Glen (husband), and my nieces (Naomi and Sarah) would drive up to Gatlinburg and walk around to look at the lights and drink hot chocolate.

  4. This is SO my family as well, Tracy. Even though we have a real tree, it’s all about the ornaments anyway. Like you, we have many handmade ornaments that my two kids created over the years. That’s all I look at when I see the tree. That’s the true meaning of Xmas for me.

  5. We’ve had an artificial tree all of our married life, Tracy. But like you, the most important part of the tree is those decorations with memories attached. BTW, congratulations on your latest book release. I’m looking forward to reading it. 🙂

  6. Hard to beat those Popsicle sticks and googly-eyed frames with snaffle-toothed kiddos in reindeer ears.

    We’ve had our current artificial tree for 7 years and love it– but it’s the ornaments that make it our tree.

    The local university (NSU) has a fantastic production by out creative and performing arts department that we attend. The ” Rockettes ” and the March of the Toy Soldiers jump starts my spirit every year.

    Merry Christmas!!

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