We used to joke that it wasn't a Rowell-Jamieson if someone wasn't laid up on the couch with some sickness or a trip to the hospital, or broken down cars while watching the reenactment of Washington crossing the Delaware. Truth be told, I'm glad that one didn't stick.
But as I decorate my fake, pre-lit, store bought tree I've had since college the other day, I realized we did have a tradition. I'd finally given up my plan of wandering the snowy Montana woods and cutting our own fresh tree. Next year.
We dug through stacks of boxes and Rubbermaid bins to find my box of ornaments and decorations.
Almost every one of them came from a friend, or family, or has a story. Most of them came from my dad's parents. Each year, they sent my sisters and I an ornament. It was something we came to expect each year, but as I decorated my tree over the weekend, I realized how special each one was.
As I unpacked each one and found the perfect spot to hang it on the tree, it hit me how well they knew me growing up. Some ornaments were the silly dated one to mark the year, but most of them were representative of me. There's the ballet dancer, the stack of books, the mailbox, the carolers. There's also the cotton angel from a friend that reminds me of our time in Alabama.
I know the annual ornament gifts won't go on forever. But, the memories will. And that will always be the true keepsake.