Seeing through the Eyes of a Child

In Brittany Strickland, Tonya McMaster by Lola Magazine

Seeing through the eyes of a child makes Christmas traditions so magical!
This endless and manufactured world of baubles and bows, available in every size, shape, and color, can leave our heads spinning. But, for a moment, imagine not having to even enter the vortex of endless aisles of sparkly, seasonal bliss, and instead finding the best treasures hidden within your own home and tucked in your children’s school backpacks, drawers, and closets. Yes indeed, right under our noses are some of the sweetest memory ornaments we could ever want. Here are a few of my favorites.

Start ‘em out young! A “Baby Shoe” tree is a perfect start.
I’ve been putting up this kind of tree for over fifteen years now. For me, it started with a bargain tree marked down at a local craft store. I bought it and took it home wondering what I was going to put on it. Then it dawned on me, “I have a whole box filled with my children’s baby shoes, bonnets, receiving blankets and more, and it’s just collecting dust at the top of a closet!” I put those treasured shoes, booties, and bonnets on the tree…swaddled the base of it with receiving blankets and tucked rattles, books and other treasures underneath. And there I had it, a perfect little tree of sweet memory “ornaments.” Each year as I decorate this little tree, I cry happy tears remembering how my babies learned to walk in those shoes or slumbered wrapped in that very blanket. There are even a few items of memorabilia belonging to my husband and myself as babies, things our mothers kept tucked in cedar chests for decades, which are now resurrected each Christmas season to help make this tree a true heirloom holiday tradition.

School daze!
Now this tree holds treasures that have graduated from toddler to kindergarten and beyond. Christmas crafts my three children proudly brought home from school garnish the tree, including a toilet paper roll angel with wings made from my youngest child’s handprints, a plastic homemade snow globe with a photo of my son as “Buzz Lightyear,” and a popsicle stick frame surrounding a pic of my grinning middle daughter wearing a Christmas hat, alongside so many other creations they made. This tree also holds gingerbread men I made of cardboard to represent each family member. As Kevin and I expanded our family, I added a gingerbread man for each new child, and a cat and dog, too! This sweet tree holds so many whimsical memories from those fun days when my kiddos were in preschool and elementary school…such a wealth of crafty knowledge displayed on this playful tree!

“…and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.”
Stockings? Well not so much, so how about footie pajamas?! This idea became our tradition by mistake when on Christmas Eve, I realized my husband and I had forgotten to get our firstborn a stocking…can you believe?! I didn’t miss a page in his baby book, but completely forgot to get our little angel a stocking! So while our cherub was nestled all snug in his crib, I rushed to his nursery, and what to my wondering eyes did appear – a pair of red footie pajamas, which I promptly tacked to the mantel shelf. And there the tradition began and still continues today! As for the stocking holders, the children made snowmen out of socks filled with dried beans, and each family member is represented in snowman form. Through the years, the “snowmen” have acquired bandages where they have suffered injuries that come with age, but these flaws only make them more endearing to me.

Today, my children are all in their twenties. My oldest is married with a precious family and a home of his own, my middle daughter is across the world enjoying countless European adventures, and my youngest is working hard to achieve her dreams both in college and with her job at Lola Magazine! Our lives are changing, and new traditions are beginning, many old ones still remain. Especially their simple childhood treasures that still capture beloved memories and visions of childlike joy we recall each Christmas season. Merry Christmas!