Last week once I had finished decorating my Christmas tree, I read this sort of post over at Cakes, Teas, and Dreams and immediately thought I should do something similar. (After wishing I had been doing this all these years.) I originally thought I might not put the Christmas tree up this year because of some anticipated work travel – but that project got pushed to the new year – so, the tree is providing a lovely glow in the living room.
In addition to the glow that the tree lights provide, I think there is also a glow provided by the memories associated with the ornaments that fill the tree. A common thread to the ornaments highlighted here…work adventures….throughout the years, I have often picked up a Christmas ornament to capture a work memory…
My first business trip – the summer of 1995, I was in Houston for an internship with a consulting company. It was an all around good experience – even though there were some bumps in the midst of it. I learned a lot through the job (& ultimately was in consulting for 15 years because of this opportunity)…I participated in a great weekly Bible study, Caedmon’s Call was the house band…co-workers became friends…a new friend at church there let me stay in her spare room when my summer housing option disintegrated. This ornament from a shop in the Houston Galleria reminds me of the summer of being out there on my own and handling everything that came my way.
In 1997, I had a couple of business trips to St. Croix USVI to conduct training for a client. The island is dotted with “windmill remnants” from Dutch colonial days. Truly, most of my time there was spent working (& trying to stay on the correct side of the road while driving) – although in the evenings we enjoyed some great meals in town. My last trip there, I finally had a chance to stay through a weekend and do a bit of exploring.
In November 1998, I first traveled to Northeast WI for a project. I wintered in Appleton. One evening while shopping in the local mall, I saw a cart in the middle of the mall selling these ornaments that were cut from timber that had been recovered from “long ago sunken timber ships” in the Great Lakes. Little did I know then how much a part of my life NE WI would become in recent years.
Eleven years ago, I had a business trip back to Kansas City during December. I traveled with a client team and we had long days of work. In the evenings, I was tour director and shared my love of Kansas City Christmas with them – we would pile into our rental minivan & I would direct us to some favorites from when I lived in the KC area. One night, we were at Crowne Center with the ice skating rink and great Christmas decorations. The next evening we enjoyed dinner and shopping at the spectacularly lit Plaza. In one of the stores, there were ornaments made from the colored bulbs that lit the plaza the previous year. Several of these bulbs came home with me to share. As we left KC, several of my clients said this was the best business trip they had ever been on because I shared the KC Christmas magic with them.
In August 2011, I stopped at a favorite Christmas shoppe in Door County as I drove back to Chicago from a week in Marinette that sparked my transition from consultant to employee. This Packers fan seemed perfect to add to the tree to remember the 2010 Super Bowl win & the season when I became a Packers fan. It might be a bit more special this year after cheering on a game at Lambeau last month.
A day trip to Door County in June as we were in the final crunch time on the project in Marinette had me once again at my favorite Christmas shoppe. This time, a lighthouse ornament came home with me as a reminder of my calming walks to/from the local lighthouse that were part of my Marinette routine.
A definite highlight of this year has been the 3 trips to the UK in support of a project. Each trip offered an opportunity for some sight seeing. This year, I add Westminster Abbey to my tree to remind me of my first afternoon of my first trip when I enjoyed a proper afternoon tea tucked away on the grounds of the abbey.
As I look at my Christmas tree, I see not just a celebration of the season – I see moments & memories & stories from so many chapters of my life. There are numerous chapter to share – vacation souvenirs…painted plaster ornaments from Artisan Dad…sweet ornaments from sweet friends…and more. What stories does your tree tell through your ornaments?