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christmas traditions with molly

Christmas is a big deal in our house and some of our favorite traditions have so much to do with the decor and what surrounds us in our home. We love nativities and currently have 16 — the kids love to help set those up year after year and remember the birth of Christ. I love our nativities so much, but in the end my very favorite tradition has to be our Christmas ornaments.

Growing up, our family always had 3 or 4 trees in our house: the fancy tree, my mom’s fun tree, the kid tree, and the homemade ornament tree. My mom made ornaments every year to give to friends and family – they were amazing. People looked forward to what kind of ornament she would make each year. As I became a teenager, I had the best time helping her make each and every ornament. My mom also gave each of the kids an ornament every year, which I have carried on with my own kids.

Our favorite tradition, however, is a bit different than either of these. Our family loves to travel and I decided years ago that in addition to the photos from each of our trips, I wanted just one souvenir, something meaningful that we would actually use. Then I realized that the perfect takeaway from our trips would be a Christmas ornament. Now, every time we travel, we all have so much fun finding the perfect ornament! As we unpack the ornaments to decorate the tree, we reminisce about each trip and our favorite memories from those trips. When my husband travels for business, he always surprises me with an ornament — I love that he loves this tradition as much as I do! Some of my favorites include the pewter ornament from Crater Lake Oregon, the guard from London, a beautiful painted ball from Boston, a taxi from New York, Santa Claus dressed as an astronaut from Houston, a moose from Yellowstone, and the olive wood nativity ornament from Jerusalem. As we hung the ornaments this year, we counted over 75 ornaments from our travels since we were married 16 years ago! We followed in my mom’s tradition with multiple trees — our designer tree in the living room, kids’ tree in the playroom, and our family tree in the family room. I told my husband that soon enough we may need to have a tree dedicated just to travel. How fun would that be?!

I love this holiday season and the togetherness and memories we get to share with our families. This is just one of many that we enjoy together!


17 Responses

  1. Abi says:

    This is something my family does and something My Handsome Man and I have started doing. We love it!

  2. Katy says:

    I do this too! It’s the one souvenir from a trip that is kept year after year. I really don’t buy souvenirs on vacations other than ornaments and maybe magnets for the fridge:)

  3. Gina says:

    We do the same thing! It has been our favorite tradition and we love it!! I love hearing the kids one by one tell about the next ornament and their memories. It creates family bonding like no other!

  4. Sean E. says:

    We do this too, but with pins that we stick on our stockings (which have a large felt Christmas tree on them), so I guess it’s kind of the same thing! We decorate our stocking tree with pin “ornaments” from our travels and meaningful things that have happened to us over the years. (A great place to put those little scout pins the kids earn with their badges). This year I added a Kansas Jayhawk from my trip to Kansas City where I watch a high school friend’s daughter play volleyball, a chocolate frog pin from my visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and a patriotic pin from my trip to Philly. So fun to pull out the stockings year after year and look at the “ornaments” on it and remember!

    • Molly Ashton Molly Ashton says:

      I love that idea Sean! Seriously, I may have to start something like that. I would love to see a photo of one of your stockings!

  5. Ann Mabee says:

    I love the ornaments of Christmas and the memories they evoke!! Besides ornaments, we like to find unusual nativities in our travels that represent not only the birth of Christ, but also memories we have made together. My hope is that when our grandkids are grown and leave home to start their own families, that they will take one of our nativities to use with their new family!!

  6. Krissy says:

    We do the same thing every time we go somewhere, such happy memories wrapped up in those ornaments. The other “ornament” tradition that we have is that I buy my two boys 1-? ornaments per year for whatever they were into or maybe an accomplishment that they had, like getting a drivers license, making the wrestling team, love of basketball shoes…whatever it might be. When they get ready to move out and have their own tree they will have many, many meaningful ornaments to decorate it with. Picking out the ornaments each year is one of my favorite parts of Christmas :)

    • Molly Ashton Molly Ashton says:

      Yes Krissy! Another favorite tradition of ours… My mom did that for each of us and we got to start our own trees with a box full of ornaments. I do the same for my kids now based on what they are interested in! Love all of these traditions!

  7. Kelli says:

    We do that too! And we even have the London guard and olive wood nativity! I love my traveling ornaments and each year I put up the tree I think back on those precious memories…sometimes I need to get better about trip ornaments, we went to 3 beach vacations this year and I only got one ornament from them!

    • Molly Ashton Molly Ashton says:

      So fun! We probably have some more duplicates, sounds like we have been to some of the same places! We took a few vacations this summer as well where we forgot to get ornaments… It bums me out when I remember that we forgot to do that!

  8. Heather says:

    Awesome idea!
    Any chance we can see any of the ornaments your mom used to make? They sound amazing with friends looking forward to them every year!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Super love this idea. I LOVE to travel and it would be so fun to have ornaments for a tree from those travels. Great idea!!

  10. rhonda says:

    I love love love this idea!! How’d ya get your hubby on board for the multiple trees ? ;) HA!

    • Molly Ashton Molly Ashton says:

      Ha ha! My husband knew before we got married when he saw my Mom’s trees and I let him know that someday when we had a big enough house, I wanted the same! He’s never complained, not much any way :)

  11. Ginger Carlisle says:

    I’ve been doing this for many years. I love seeking out and finding fun ornaments from our family vacations. I also collect nativities. This year I went on my first cruise with my husband. Not only did we find a fun ornament of a cruise ship, but a cute nativity from Belize. I think I appreciate them more when I get them out once a year than if they were sitting on a shelf all year long.

  12. Vera says:

    This past season was my second Christmas with my husband and it sounds sad but we didn’t put up any decorations this year. We want to change that next Christmas though. We also want to be collecting ornaments so that our tree would start our really simple, but over the years would be very meaningful.

    I wonder what kind of ornaments your mom made? I’d love to make too.

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