Ours has many stories, one for each ornament, most of which we bought when we lived abroad. It was certainly not planned. I have, for instance, a snowman collection because they were on sale for $1 the day after Christmas — the Santas and angels were all sold out I guess.
I did want to start a collection, and it was a Nativity scene set from different countries. In the Philippines where I grew up and where 80 percent of the population is Catholic, we observe the birth of Jesus by making the Nativity set the centerpiece and symbol of Christmas not only in churches but in our homes, government offices, shopping malls, public and private schools, etc.
So now I’m the proud owner of a set from Pakistan, Nigeria, and the US. I have not found one yet from the Philippines that I like. It has to be special and should come with a small story – and it just might be the ubiquitous cardboard cut-out that I grew up with that is common in every home. I just hope it’s still being sold.
My first Christmas trees were just a foot high, and came with decorations when bought. Then we got two Christmas trees from colleagues who ended their contract with the school. Okay, so the story for the Christmas ornaments started with our four cats. I didn’t want anything breakable, and that’s how I got started with wooden and paper mache ornaments in Pakistan. They actually made great presents to family and friends so I didn’t have much at first. Then I bought more just before we left Pakistan. They are expensive on Etsy, but at least available at starting price of $5 apiece. Then the rest just came, with separate stories of their own like the skiing Santas that my mother-in-law collected over the years, because my husband was a downhill skier in his younger days. She was the one who gave me the idea that Christmas tree ornaments are neat when they are figurines with a theme, and hers are mostly Santas. She and an aunt also started giving our son a Hallmark keepsake reflecting his age each year. Then there’s the candy cane that our son made in pre-school. It was the only one I could keep, because the others were made of paper and fell apart. I am so looking forward to more decorations made by him this and in future Christmases. I also have a Snowman collection and a couple of Christmas cat ornaments, although I can’t remember where and when I got these. From Thailand I simply bought a pack of elephant keychains from Chatuchak. Maybe I should have gotten more, they are so cute. My next purchase will probably be snowflakes; I kinda like the analogy between snowflakes and children: no two are alike, but each is shaped perfectly to reach its destination.