My family's Christmas trees are not what you'd call matchy-matchy.
The lights are never all one color.
The garland, ribbons and gifts aren't in coordinated hues.
And no two ornaments are the same.
My yuletide decorations tell a story. My story. Tales about the people I love and the places I've been.
Every December, after the real evergreen with its fresh scent and soft needles is in its stand, the paper- or bubble-wrapped ornaments are unrolled from their protective packing.
It's like opening a hundred little gifts, each reminding me of a person, place or memory.
There's the wooden cable car my husband and I bought on a stopover in San Francisco.
There's a little lighthouse and porcelain orca from the coast, a Japanese doll from a Tokyo trip and a tiny leather kayak from Alaska.
A bird-shaped clay whistle is a reminder of when I lived in South America as a child. Other trinkets bring memories of my grandmother and her world travels.
I treasure the homemade ones too. From my son's childhood Christmas crafts to tiny cross-stitched holiday scenes and a Rudolph made from wooden clothespins.
There are the usual trains, snowflakes, Santas, nutcrackers and snowmen.
But there's also the unexpected: a wooden slug, delicate porcelain tea pot and tiny wicker fishing creel that reminds me of my dad.
And clipped to the tips of the sturdier branches are old-time brass holders with festive red candles.
Once as a kid, we actually lit the candles as my dad stood close with a fire extinguisher so we could admire the beauty of the ornaments and tree in the dance of the candlelight -- if only for a few moments.
Every year it looks different. Nothing in the same spot.
Nothing matches, yet it all fits together like a special puzzle, one made from memories.
-- Laurie Williams, executive editor