Memory Tree

As I sat one evening on my couch this week, I couldn’t help but admire my Christmas tree.

That admiration quickly turned to dread — dread of having to pack it up after what seems just as quickly as I put it up.

It’s not the time and effort it takes to put it away that’s such a burden — for me, anyway.

It’s packing away the memories for another year that I’d like to delay.  

My tree (which happens to be my first) is unique, and has adopted a “world” or “memory” tree name for itself.

You won’t find any ornaments on its branches from any well-known department or home goods stores.

As someone who loves to travel, each and every ornament on my tree has come from a gift shop at cities, national parks, museums and other locations I’ve been lucky enough to explore. I’m fortunate to have ornaments from across the country and the world.

I leave the coffee cups, refrigerator magnets and other common tourist shop trinkets on the shelves, and immediately look for my next ornament to add to my collection.

Each ornament must be carefully selected, though.

In most locations it’s impossible to explore everything it has to offer in a condensed amount of time I’m traveling on — and my ornament must reflect my experience there.

If the ornament does not clearly identify the city or special interest location, I’ll likely leave it hang in the store. I’ve made one exception to that rule, though, and bought the sparkly dolphin to remember my first time seeing dolphins at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Not only was I transversed back to spotting beautiful dolphins, but this Christmas season I also heard again live music in Savannah, Georgia, wondered what it would be like living among prominents like the Morgans, Pulitzers, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers in the late 1800s and early 1900s at Jekyll Island, the lively Broadway strip of Nashville, Tenn. and relieved the once-in-a-lifetime hikes in Norway.

Despite hating to pack that all away, I know I’ll get a newfound excitement each year by digging through and displaying some of my fondest memories.

As I sit on the couch enjoying my tree for one of the last times of the season, I can’t help but notice plenty of bare spots.

Unlike typical Christmas trees, this isn’t reason for discontempt.

This means there’s plenty room for more ornaments, and it’s exciting wondering where my next one will come from.