Minimal decorations add up to plenty of love

December 20, 2012|Amy Dulebohn

I have a 2-1/2-year old child. Therefore, I learned very quickly that it's best to keep things simple.

For instance, because of my newfound Christmas spirit, I wanted to hang outdoor lights, indoor lights, and decorate with candles, wreaths, live greenery and at least two trees.

Instead, I settled for my tabletop pink tree sitting by the front window. I thought this would be safe. My daughter would be too young to notice that we aren't inundated with decorations.

I thought that because the ornaments I adorned my tiny tree with were special to me, my daughter would be happy to admire them from afar as I do.

That would be a no.

As quickly as I hung the ornaments, she pulled them off the glittery tree. Because many of my most-prized decorations have babies on them, symbolizing her birth and remembering a little boy born too soon several years ago, they were irresistible to my daughter. Many of these had to be taken and wrapped back up and put away. It was a bummer, but better to be put away for a year than to risk breaking or maiming my beloved ornaments.

Another favorite decoration of mine is a small inflatable Santa Claus given to me by my sister on my first Christmas. Somehow it managed to stay intact over the years. No thanks to my daughter who feels the need to squeeze it  — incessantly. While he continues to hold up to the abuse, St. Nick could use some air. Unfortunately, the valve at Santa's feet has dry-rotted shut. No big deal. He's still functional, just a little flat.

Among the mix of fun decorations is a Hallmark ornament based on my all-time favorite Christmas TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The talking ornament depicts the scene where the hapless Charlie Brown is feeling depressed and goes to frenemy Lucy Van Pelt's booth to receive psychiatric advice for a mere five cents. My daughter is particularly fascinated with this ornament. "Mommy," she said excitedly. "I'm Lucy, and you're Charlie Brown!" Indeed.

One morning, about a week after our hanging of the not-quite-greens, we arrived at the baby-sitter's house to find it resembled a winter wonderland, much like how I wanted my home to look. As I dropped my daughter off, I said a little prayer that she wouldn't destroy the lovely decorations. When I returned that evening, everything was intact. Nothing short of a Christmas miracle, I thought to myself.

That night, my daughter said to me, "I want you to get a big tree, Mommy." Ugh. I wasn't expecting that. She wasn't supposed to notice that we didn't have a 7-foot tall green pine or spruce. But I got lucky. I told her simply that we couldn't get one right now, but maybe next year. And she was fine with that.

Later, I mentioned my daughter's words to the baby-sitter and told her she probably wished she had a smaller tree because of the way my daughter likes to remove ornaments. She shrugged and said, "She doesn't bother the tree at all." Huh? A Christmas miracle for sure.  

Still, I am happy with the little tree that symbolizes Christmas 2012. It serves me and my little girl quite well. And although many of my favorite ornaments aren't on display this year, the memories figure prominently in my heart and mind. It's simple, and beautiful.

For stories from Herald-Mail readers about their favorite holiday ornaments, see Sunday's Lifestyle section, beginning on page C1.

First-time mother Amy Dulebohn is a page designer and feature writer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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