Passing on the Tradition

The minute I saw the invitation, I knew the jig was up. Our daughter Ally and her boyfriend were throwing a tree-trimming party, a tradition I began with a roommate in my 20s and continued with my husband for many years. This party meant that the occasional knee-high tree grabbed as an afterthought from Mollie Stones would be replaced by a six-footer. It was time.

I’d been waiting for this day with mixed feelings since our daughters were born. Each year, we’d head out the day after Thanksgiving to select ornaments, one for each girl. We’d hang them on the tree, then, after packing them away for the season, I’d write the year and a detailed description of the ornament on hand-scrawled lists: “Ally’s Ornaments,” “Emma’s Ornaments.” All the eras of childhood were there: teddy bears, snowmen, rocking horses, Santas, dogs, cats, the more sophisticated choices of adolescence. Someday, I knew, I’d wistfully wrap them all up and present them as a starter set for the first real tree of their adult lives.

Ally’s first ornaments from us were a teddy bear dressed up for Christmas and a baby on a rocking horse.

I wrapped each one in tissue, along with all the others, and placed everything in a shoe box, wrapping it in extra cloth leftover from the tree skirt I’d made for us years before.

Ally’s jaw dropped as she unwrapped the first ornaments. “I can’t possibly accept these!” she protested, but her reluctance gave way as I assured her this had been my intent all along.

She sent me a picture of their very sparsely decorated tree as soon as they’d set it up, decked with her childhood ornaments and the two they’d gotten for their first tree. There was plenty of room for years and years more.

The tree-trimming party was wonderful. Ally made these adorable edibles:

And here’s what we brought, a homemade facsimile of both girls’ long-time favorite that a friend had given me at my first tree-trimming party almost four decades ago:

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What traditions have you passed along?

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