One of the first “family” traditions MBH and I started together was to buy only one ornament for our Christmas tree each year, one that represented a significant moment in our lives together during the past 12 months.
Our first Christmas, this tradition made for a pretty sad tree. We had a couple freebie ornaments from our apartment complex, and we filled up some of the extra space with Christmas cards and ribbon, but as you can see by the photo… it was pretty bare. But that was the plan.
We figured that while this first tree was relatively empty, by the time we celebrated our 20th tree, it would be full of things that showcased memories meaningful to us, and told the story of our relationship.
Since Lola was the big present for me that year, of course our first ornament chosen together (at left) was meant to represent her arrival into our family. We took a few artistic liberties – she’s only half German Shepherd, and MBH isn’t a police officer, but the sentiment was still there. She was the most important thing that happened to us that year, though she did face some stiff competition: our cross-country road trip and you know, the big step of combining households and whatnot.
The next year, with MBH out of the country for work, that year’s ornament was one given to us by his employer. By that time, friends and family had heard of our “one ornament per year” rule and somehow misinterpreted it as “Kate & MBH are too poor to decorate their tree” – we were showered with ornaments that year as well-meaning presents, all of which made it to the tree and admittedly made it look a little more cheery.
Our third Christmas together came after a year fraught with conflict: mismatched work travel schedules and a hectic lifestyle put a strain on both of us and meant we’d spent far less time together than we would have hoped. And so that became our ornament of the year: Hope, to symbolize ours for a better year to come. Which I guess worked, because…
This year, our fourth together, is our first as an engaged couple. And in true bridezilla fashion, I insisted this year’s ornament match the theme of our upcoming nuptials: travel.
Given our relationship history (more than a year in a long-distance, cross-country relationship, the more than six cities we’ve called home between the two of us in just four years together, and the exotic locales we’ve been lucky enough to visit), this year’s ornament, like our engagement, is both a celebration of our past and an optimistic look toward our future. We don’t know where in the world we’ll end up (get it? hahahahaha) but we’ll be there together.