This tradition was started the year I was born. Grandma Butler started buying me a Reid and Barton cross every year. Each one is different and each has it's own story. I hang them on the tree each year on red ribbons. One year, before we had kids, this was all that was on our tree along with white lights and baby's breath. It was truly beautiful. This collection of crosses started a few years before I was born, and my mom was so sweet to fill in those missing years for me. She has also kept the tradition up since my Grandma was no longer able to get them for me. Year after year I am surprised at how many crosses there are on our tree.... hummm, guess what that means....
This reindeer was given to my mom by an old neighbor. It hung in our house every Christmas when I was a child. My mom passed it on to me. He has graced the back of our door since I got him. This year when the Christmas boxes came down I had three sets of little hands wanting to get into them. I made the mistake of popping Mr. Reindeer out of the box a little too fast (and maybe with a little growl - I know, bad mommy!). This made Luke scared of it, and he refused to come downstairs on his own for the first few days. Since then he has become friends with the reindeer and has enjoyed pointing them out whenever he sees one. (note to self: don't do that again!!)
Danny got me this train one Christmas after we got married. I think it's cute and the kids have always loved it. I love that he picked it out and got it for me.
Another year Danny got me this beautiful nativity. I love it! The characters expressions are so soft and lovely. I hope to treasure it always. I'm pretty sure there was no snow in Bethlehem, but the painting behind the nativity was done by Dan's Grandpa Browne and I just love the way it looks behind the nativity.
This nativity is so special to me. It's the one that was in my house growing up. I think I was 2 or 3 years old when my mom painted these characters. She let me help. Of course I don't remember, but these characters are like old friends to me. The cow has lost his horns, so has the donkey. Joseph's hand and staff are missing. There are many chips and glued heads, but I think that just adds to it. I'm sure that most of those bumps where done while me, my sister, or my brother playing out the scene of the nativity. I have this on a low shelf so my kids can touch and explore with it too.
This is our Jesse Tree. I made it two years ago, and we have really enjoyed adding the tradition of the Jesse Tree to our family during the Christmas season. It is a wonderful way to celebrate Advent - which means "coming" referring to the coming of Jesus. We read a story from the Bible every night along with a devotional and a prayer. We also add a leaf to our Jesse Tree that represents what we read about that night. This photo shows the first three days done. Day 1 was creation where we read about God creating the earth and about how Jesus was there then (John 1:1-4). Day 2 we read about the first sin and how God made a way for us to get back to Him through Jesus. Day 3 was about the flood and how we can have eternal life through Jesus. There is a lot of information on the internet about starting a Jesse Tree. Ann Voskamp has a beautiful free downloadable book. This is the book we have used the past couple years.
This is the jewel tree. Grandma Butler had this hanging in her house every Christmas. She made it long ago with costume jewelry. It has multi-colored lights that blink on it. For years I always thought it looked a bit tacky. This year however, I have a new appreciation for the jewel tree. Grandma Butler passes away last month, and having this hanging in the house is very comforting.
This cute stained glass Santa was made by a dear family friend. He found his place here in our front window the year we moved into this house and has hanged in the same spot every year since waving to all who pass by.
These are some of the items that make our couch cozy in December. I made these pillows after Zachary was born along with our family stockings. I also started a quilt, which has yet to be finished (someday...). I do however have a cute quilt made by a sweet friend from church. It has jolly Santa's on it, but I leave it out all year because this as the first quilt she ever made and was such a beautiful gift to our family.
And these are just some of the many (many) Christmas books that litter our couch most days. My kids love to read and be read to. Even Luke will sit still for most books. I got wise a few years back and packed all the Christmas books away with the Christmas decorations at the end of Christmas. It was so nice not to be reading Rudolf in July! It also made it so much fun to get them down again in December.
So those are just a few of our Christmas decorations/traditions that grace our home each year. A mix of old and new, comfortable, and uniquely ours.