The ornaments that were on the tree when I was growing up were mostly typical Christmas balls and other shaped glass ornaments. But each year, we would go to a kiosk at the mall that offered dozens of flat, gold ornaments in various shapes. My brother and I would each get to choose one that we liked and then the girl behind the counter would engrave whatever we wanted on the ornaments. The tool that she would use to engrave looked a little like a wood burning tool, but the tip would vibrate so that wherever the tool touched, it would leave tiny engravings in her handwriting. Some years, the handwriting was very nice, but other years, the handwriting looked quite sloppy. You never knew what you were going to get until it was finished. We would usually have our name and year engraved on the shapes.
When I was in high school, I bought 2 kits to make cotton stuffed ornaments from felt and sequins. I made a Mr. and Mrs. Claus and a Mr. and Mrs. Snowman. I still have the Claus family, but I think the stitches came out of the snowman family. Every year, when I put them on my tree, I remember how proud I was of those ornaments.
I never considered that tree decorations would have a theme OTHER than Christmas or winter, but the first year I visited my future husband’s family at Christmas time, I found out I was wrong. Each year, they bought a real tree that was so tall, we had to stand on a ladder to decorate the top. And many of the ornaments were souvenirs of places they had visited on vacations. Amongst the stars and manger figures were miniature lobster traps, palm trees and golf bags. I found this very interesting and while I can’t say we’ve adopted this tradition, I do like the idea of reliving those memories each year.