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Decorating With Memories

We prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas. My prayers are more reflective now, my gratitude expands. It’s the season of Advent, the weeks before Christmas.


Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

We also decorate our home with memories of those we love. Each activity, each object reminds us.

Like the year I proudly set the table — and my husband decided it was blah. Out came red and green candles and Christmas glasses instead. Now it’s tradition.


By early December each year, the memories start nudging: it’s time to decorate. 


Older daughter and son-in-law couldn’t make it from the US, but memories of the whole family together always return on the day we decorate the tree.


Husband, younger daughter and son-in-law haul in the fresh Fraser fir, haul out the boxes of decorations, string up the lights and we all sip hot cider. The family room’s a happy mess.


We laughingly remember previous Christmas trees: too small, too thin, or lopsided. But this year, we got it right.


The ornaments also bring back memories.

My mother’s gratitude and wishes for the following year are written on a scroll in this cylinder. How we all miss her!


My times working in S. Africa, where these Ndebele dolls were made.


Some ornaments are just for fun. Like “the disco ball”, that always makes us grin, with memories of the disco days.


Memories upon memories.




Tiny Mr. J.C. finally gets tired of all the activity and lies down to sleep, paws up. *Can you see him on the sofa below?* It’s our first Christmas without his best friend Dawson, who would have been asleep at this point too. 


Blog Photo - Julius and Dawson Sleeping

Do dogs miss their companions? We do. 


All is calm now. Extra-special thanks are given.

And, as the fire glows in the hearth…

Santa and the angels look on approvingly, I think. They, too, have kept us company through many a Christmas.


Blog Photo - Christmas ornaments Peace Angel

From our home to yours, wishing you peace this Advent, good memories, and joyful times at Christmas.


92 thoughts on “Decorating With Memories”

  1. Beautiful Cynthia! You have some wonderful and unique decorations, but more importantly, beautiful memories. I love how you consciously decorate with love for the memories and experiences. Great idea!
    Happy Holidays!

  2. The title of this post says it all, Cynthia. Each decoration shares a memory and don’t we talk about them as we take them out. That’s the wonderful thing about Christmas. We all share family memories. Heartwarming to read. ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. Your decorations are lovely, Cynthia. Everything looks so warm and inviting. I think I like your mother’s gratitude cylinder the best. Wishing you and your family peace and joy in the new year.

    1. That one has its own special place of honour and it always moves me when the first person opens it, sees her handwriting, reads her words, and is overcome by the remembrance.

  4. Oh, Cynthia! Outstanding!!!! So much to admire, but I especially love the two little angels at the start of the piece. Happy holidays to you and yours.

      1. Those angels are certainly sweet. Thanks for the Christmas wishes, especially to Maya, who has come to seem like a real person to me. And happy Christmas to you and yours!

  5. The decorations are beautiful Cynthia! And lovely memories to go with them.

    I don’t decorate anymore as the cats are too helpful, but I do have one lone Christmas tree candle that my long deceased Aunt and Uncle made back when they had a small candle-making business. I never light it, and it stays within a small wreath. I can hide that at night from the kitties.

  6. Beautiful memories Cynthia and beautiful post of what is important during this festive season. Good wishes to you and yours.

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Helen. Thanks for the kind comment. I’m glad you like the dining table. I understand that the dressed table is now called the “tablescape”. All these new terms!

  7. Beautiful, Cynthia. It’s nice to pull things out each year and remember when they first came to you–and to add new things, too, that will become memories the next year.

  8. It’s so lovely to be part of your Christmas via your post. I love your Santa, and all the other special Christmas decorations. My kitchen is currently decorated with giant bowls and piles of dishes from my Christmas cake making (yes, only one cake, but every bowl in the house seems to have been involved). I want to lie on the sofa like Mr JC and dream of Christmas fairies cleaning up my mess…….but that isn’t going to happen, so I better get on with the job. Happy Christmas.

    1. Oh, my friend! I would love to be there to help you wash up those bowls! That, to me, is home. You just brought back wonderful memories of the annual Christmas cake baking in our family home. Thanks for this.

  9. Lovely post. Jackie is decorating the tree as I write, and reminiscing about 18 unbroken years of our granddaughter’s assistance with that task – she is now married and in North Carolina, so it got a bit tearful

  10. I sure love this post! We all seem to have the same Christmas impulses–memories, traditions, nostalgia, sentiment. Your house looks serene and welcoming!

    1. Well, we cleaned up the mess, Kerry, so it’s somewhat serene now. But for one long afternoon, it was a sight to behold. My cup of cider kept disappearing, then got cold, then heated up and got cold again. But it was such fun.

  11. There is so much warmth and love throughout this that I feel it swirl around me here. I love each piece and its memories – and I was especially struck by your mother’s words preserved in the scroll. How wonderful! Sending you and your family my very best … Merry Christmas!

  12. I love how you share your memories with all of us. And your memories coincide with the ones that we have on our tree also. Merry merry Christmas to you and your family. 🎄

  13. Cynthia, thank you for bringing us into your Christmassy home – a moving post. The tree is indeed perfect and it was touching to read about the various ornaments and the memories they recall – the scroll is so unusual and wow, what a precious gift. I love the Ndebele dolls, so colourful and unusual. Wishing you and your family a lovely 4th Advent today – we’ve lit our candles today whilst having afternoon coffee and munching away on the homemade Pepperkakor just baked.

    1. Now, that sounds comfy and lovely. Afternoon coffee and homemade Peepperkakor, freshly baked! Thank you for your kind comment, Annika. Happy Advent to you and wishes for joy at Christmas.

  14. How lovely to see your home so full of Christmas and its many memories. I wish you and your family much pleasure and joy in the season, and memories to fill the heart with.

  15. Memories add so much flavor to any decorations. In fact, they can become the most cherished attribute of all Christmas time. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

      1. As everyone else, Cynthia. When my daughter was young we used to visit lonely and poor people on Christmas day. I will visit an elderly friend Monday.

  16. “a happy mess” – that’s the perfect description of all the preparations for Christmas. Handling all the ornaments collected over the years does bring back memories and smiles. (Of course a little doggy supervision helps)
    Enjoyed visiting your decoration party – it all looks lovely.
    Merry on!

  17. The memories that come out of the decoration boxes with the ornaments are so precious! How nice to have a son-in-law to do the climbing-on-a-chair jobs! I’m sorry your elder daughter and her husband can’t be with you this Christmas.
    We haven’t decorated yet; we are saving that pleasure for Thursday when I hope most of the boring chores will have been done and only the really Christmassy ones are left to do.
    In case I don’t get another opportunity, may I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and an exceptionally Happy New Year!

    1. Ah, my friend Clare! How good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind wishes. It is great to have sons-in-law to help us occasionally. Now, here’s my question: is it your tradition to decorate the tree just a few days before Christmas? Or just that you’ve been too busy hitherto?

      1. It is our tradition. Though I must admit I am always really busy and would never have the time to decorate early anyway! Both my parents came from families who didn’t decorate until Christmas Eve so they kept up the tradition. My mother’s family never had a tree either!

  18. Yes, that happy mess. i can relate to that so well. And the memories of Christmas times past while decorating in the moment.
    Decorating has become a one-day project nowadays, ever since Timmy moved in a few years ago. He is much more of a creature of habit than any other cat we’ve had. Or maybe I’m more aware of it with Timmy? In any case, boxes and messes – be they ever so happy – are a bit stressful for him. So the luxury of decorating a little bit every evening after work for a week has become a memory, too.
    These days, the boxes come out, one and all, and the decorations are put up, and the boxes are removed all on the same day, under Timmy’s watchful eye. And I must admit I don’t mind that it’s all done so quickly.
    I remember other cats from other Christmases, as you remember Dawson. So sorry to hear about your loss.
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful time of Advent and a very merry Christmas which is just around the corner now….

    1. I love your reply, Chris. Thank you. I see that Timmy has changed your habits at this time – such power, that Timmy has! Our 4-legged companions do leave us with many memories, don’t they? I wish you a beautiful Christmas, Chris.

  19. Hi,
    I know Tess, Debby, the Coastal Crone,
    I’d like to respond to what you wrote at Donna’s blog party.
    I agree, whatever our religious beliefs, the holidays should be a time about reflection and goodwill and not commercialism.
    I have gotten into writing about marketing lately so guest authors keep sending me posts about making money. On Christmas, I’ll try to have a holiday party like Donna to make up for it.
    I met you at Donna’s blog party. Maybe you can check out my blog if you need a blogging tip or two. That’s what I write about. For example, I recently wrote How to Get 842 page views to your blog in less than a day
    I also have several blog parties each month like Donna.

    1. You too, Julie. Wishing you the best of the Christmas season. I’ve been dusting and wrapping and checking my lists twice…. still more to do, but I’m enjoying it all, glad that I’m able to do it. Blessed Christmas!

  20. This was a re-run of yesterday for us. The girls and husband arrived and decorated the bare Christmas tree choosing and exclaiming about memories and traditions. By the end of the day their childhood round table had made it up from the cellar and a large puzzle was starting to fill a board on it. I hope you are as happy as we are this Christmas (not with the world, sadly, but with our family).

    1. Thank you, dear Hilary. I wish you a beautiful Christmas. We decided to pace ourselves again this year: church on Christmas Eve; a quiet, immediate-family Christmas Day, then extended family on Boxing day. Do you have any snow?

  21. Just a quick run back by. Hope you are snug and warm and smiling.

    Waiting for sunset on Christmas Eve is like standing toes-over-the-edge on a high diving board.
    Every year we’d cruise casually by the window to keep an eye on the sun’s progress until it was officially evening.
    Then the shout “Christmas Eve Gift!” would ring out.
    You see, the traditions says that the first person to voice that phrase on Christmas Eve to another would be graced with good fortune and joy all the next year.
    (And of course, whomever was first won. Everything was a contest…)
    It’s more difficult to be first now with caller ID.
    As all those who have become my friends in blogland are spread widely across time zones, I’d like to wish you all “Christmas Eve Gift” now.
    And as I already feel so fortunate to have such wonderful readers and writers in this neighborhood, I wish to share any phrase acquired good fortune and joy with you in thanks.
    No matter where you are or what you are guided by, hope you have a very merry Christmas and a new year full of adventure and joy.
    Peace on earth and goodwill towards all creatures great and small.

  22. What a beautiful post (and gorgeous photos). I, too, decorate my Christmas tree with almost too many momentoes collected, gifted or hand-crafted throughout my life.

    I always wish the people and puppies that inspired or gifted the tiny decorations to begin with were in the room in more than spirit, and increasingly more of my memories are bitter-sweet because they are not, but I wouldn’t trade my personal collection of ornaments for an entire room of Christopher Radko.

    I wish I had a scroll from my own mother to place upon the tree, but she is represented by two special ornaments: a tiny snow-white, flying angel and a red-headed corn-husk figure sitting before a sewing machine – and by a particular stocking: one of seven she so lovingly crafted for our entire family one year.

    Thank you for sharing your home and your own memories this Christmas Season. Happy New Year.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  23. Lovely memories on your tree. Thanks for sharing your memories. There are many ornaments that stirs memories for me as well. The kitties helped with the decorating and the taking down. That is when they seem to be most interested. Happy New Year to you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Tina. And yours too!
      It was quieter and lovely. Church on Christmas Eve, a big, Jamaican breakfast Christmas morning then gift exchange, (one gift opened at a time, in a circle) a holiday movie in the afternoon, a quiet Christmas dinner, then the next day the extended family came in and we sat at the nicely decorated Christmas table and ate and talked and laughed, after a lovely Grace was said. We sang the 12 days of Christmas while one person performed the actions of each day, drank rum-laced Jamaican sorrel, ate rum-laced Jamaican cake, and did the giant crossword, and laughed and talked. Really lovely.

      1. That sounds like a perfect holiday!!! We had a few days of downtime and tried to make the best of it even with my cold. It was very different this year with Chance now not believing. I had a hard time mentally adjusting to that and fighting off the blues of the inevitable “my kids are growing up” feelings. But we made it through and it was still wonderful.

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