Travel Theme: Symbol

“I’ve been sitting here listening to tributes pour in from world leaders for Nelson Mandela and the word I hear used over and over is symbol – a symbol of peace, freedom, humility, unity, transformation and hope. As a tribute to an extraordinary man and a life well lived, let’s give the week over to all things symbolic.”

After reading the words above, from Where’s My Backpack?, I immediately thought of my Christmas tree and the ornaments that hang upon it, most of which represent some traveling I’ve done in life, whether an actual vacation or a trip through a certain phase in life.

MusicThe sheet music ornament represents all of the time and energy devoted to learning to read and make music. And this particular hymn–Silent Night–is always the last hymn, sung by candlelight, at Christmas Eve services. So many memories of looking to the left, looking to the right, down the pew and sharing a special moment with my family members, during my childhood, my young adult life, and in recent years with my own children and my ever-expanding extended family.

BootThe boot represents growing up in Wyoming, all of my years with horses and other assorted animals.

BoatThis little ornament is a near perfect replica of the 22-foot Starcraft boat from my childhood. Going to the lake most summer weekends was what our family did. Major sunburns (these were the baby oil years), hours of waterskiing, chasing lizards on the beach, and scary afternoon storms made for some great times.

TeacherThis one is for all my years of teaching and all the teacher ornaments I’ve received as gifts. Ornaments trump coffee mugs for me, any year.

FishI lived in Denver for 15 years and across the street was this wonderful family from Pakistan. Their home was filled with beautiful Middle Eastern decor. Javed cooked the most amazing food and loved nothing more than sitting off to the side, sipping Scotch, and watching others enjoy what he had made. This fish reminds me of our neighbors and represents diversity.

Baby ShoesCeramic baby shoes. First daughter, first baptism, words of love written on the soles from the aunt.

Baby ShoeA toddler’s Christmas shoe, that of my second daughter.

DaughtersThis is one of my favorites to hang every year.

Balloons and TentOver the years, as my daughters have grown, I’ve collected ornaments from some of the places we’ve traveled to. This is from the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, the largest in the world with about 750 hot air balloons. Behind it is a miniature tent, a symbol of our love of camping.

BasketballThe basketball represents the girls’ early years when they dabbled in a lot of different sports–dance, softball, soccer, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, swim team.

AlaskaA five-week road trip to Alaska. Before kids.

DisneylandRoad trip to Vegas, San Diego, and Disneyland.

ViolinSeveral years of Suzuki violin lessons. I should have picked up the instrument myself, since I attended every one of the girls’ lessons and had most of the pieces memorized, at least in my mind.

HikerA symbol of my love for hiking.

CardinalThe Cardinal, though it’s missing a wing now, reminds me of my mother and addressing Christmas cards. My mom always said that the cardinal was her favorite bird and the holiday cards she bought often had a cardinal on them. She wrote an annual Christmas letter and sent out about 50 cards. Each year I’d watch her address the envelopes and admire her pretty, even handwriting. One year, she handed the task over to me. I sat at the kitchen table, honored to be trusted with such an important job, while she worked in the kitchen and simultaneously taught me how to use titles, such as Dr. and Mrs. So-and So, write addresses properly, and keep the address book organized and up-to-date. I also learned how everyone was related to us and how she had met all of her fiends over the years. I did my own Christmas letter with beautifully addressed envelopes for many years, until I started keeping up with everyone on Facebook.

Angel of CourageThis is the Angel of Courage. She had a prominent spot on the first Christmas tree I had after leaving my husband. It took a lot of courage to take that step and she reminds me of how difficult that process was, but mostly of how liberating it was.

KokopelliThis half marathon medal has a likeness of Kokopelli. It represents not only running and the friends I’ve made from this activity, but also the desert Southwest, some of my favorite terrain to explore and camp in.

Flip FlopsHere we have a pair of flip-flops from a trip to Maui with my sister. And behind them, a triathlon medal. I started running and doing triathlons about five years ago.

D.C.Trip to Washington, D.C. with my sister.

TetonsA bear in a tent and the words Grand Tetons. I got married on the shore of Jackson Lake at the base of the Grand Tetons. And Grand Teton National Park is where we have our family reunion each summer. I am blessed that we all get along so well and look forward to gathering in this incredibly special setting each year.MarathonThis medal is so big and heavy that it almost doesn’t work as a Christmas tree ornament. I make it happen though because it is a symbol of my first marathon–a huge accomplishment for me–ran in Tampa, Florida.

Aspen LeafThe golden aspen leaf is a symbol of my state, Colorado.

My Christmas tree ornaments are souvenirs and reminders of places I’ve been and journeys I’ve taken in life. Each year, as I hang them on the tree, I reflect on my travels and experiences in life.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Billybucb
    Dec 08, 2013 @ 16:24:00

    I love this post. What wonderful memories to hang upon your tree. Thanks for sharing those precious moments with all of us.


    • randee
      Dec 08, 2013 @ 16:49:26

      You’re welcome and thanks for reading. Sometimes I think I don’t need to continue to collect, since my children are almost grown, but this post made me realize that I do! I do! because it’s so much fun every Christmas to think back on where each ornament came from.


  2. farfetchedfriends
    Dec 08, 2013 @ 17:43:46

    I never thought about hanging race medals on the tree. Great idea!


    • randee
      Dec 08, 2013 @ 18:09:18

      I know, right? I mean, what else am I going to do with them? Plus, they’re reflective in nature and add a lot more light to the tree.


  3. writeejit
    Dec 08, 2013 @ 17:54:50

    Randee, a memory tree, how fantastic! Of course you made me realize how so many of my family’s tree’s ornaments also have significance. Each year I try to cut a sliver off the base of the Christmas tree trunk. I write the date on it and store it away with the other ornaments.
    Thanks for sharing.


  4. aj vosse
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 13:16:20

    Grand idea!! I’d better not let my good lady see this post as then she’ll likely try and hang everything in the house on the tree!! 😉


  5. Photography Journal Blog
    Dec 10, 2013 @ 05:21:30

    Nice response to the theme, and I love your tree.


  6. Trackback: 12-11-13 Travel Theme: Symbol # 2 (The Ridiculous And The Bitter) | The Quotidian Hudson
  7. Terence Yaz
    May 30, 2016 @ 06:12:36

    That kokopelli rock art was done by my dad Terry Yazzie. And he also does Christmas ornaments. He’s located in Chinle .


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