Editorial board Christmas tradition: Tree of memories

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