Its not a cookie cutter Christmas tree this year. An assortment of ornaments decorate our fresh Noble Fir a tree that lists a little to the left.
Were not into perfection. Were into memories.
From out of the depths of boxes tucked away in storage, ornaments once sculpted with childish hands are emerging wrapped in nostalgia and a little dust. There are long forgotten stars, curious elves and odd-looking candy canes. No department store could sell decorations with a smidgen of the happiness our once-little girls experienced making their own.
When every member of the family arrives there will be a special memory hanging on the tree; everything from baby-faced photo decorations to a late grandmas snowflakes crocheted with love. But there will be one new item that hasnt been there before, one that may have some of our nearest and dearest remembering their childhood days.
This year Im hanging Barnum's Animal Crackers on the Christmas tree. Until I read a newspaper item, I never realized those charmingly designed boxes with string attached were created in 1902 to decorate the Christmas tree.
I always thought the red cardboard circus wagon cage, filled to the brim with animal biscuits, was a brilliant gift for parents.
During every grocery shopping trip with my two daughters, nothing saved the day like a box of Barnums Animal Crackers.
Now, if youll be good, I would announce the moment we entered the store, placing each of them in the grocery cart, Mommy will buy some animal cookies for a treat.
As I recall, the cookie aisle was strategically located about a third of the way on my planned route. Just when a little one would tire of promises, the circus showed up. Lions, tigers and bears entertained and satisfied a sweet tooth until we reached the register.
I imagine there were many other parents who through the years bought countless empty boxes with a grateful heart. The low sugar and low fat biscuit bribe was well worth the price.
Animal crackers remain popular today. And when family finds the memorable circus boxes hanging on the tree, they may be delighted to see that Ive revived an old tradition without a ride in a grocery cart.
Even so, my grown daughters will still have to be good to open a box.