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'Tis the season to make memories with family, friends

This holiday season McDuffie Museum is decorated to the nines with garland, wreaths, vintage decorations and a 12-foot Christmas tree.

With my family, friends and some wonderful museum patrons the Christmas holidays will be magical. I've always loved decorating for Christmas. It brings back many fond memories of being with family during this special time of year.

One of my favorite memories is of my father's mother, who we grandchildren (and most all young people in Washington) lovingly called JennyMom. In case you haven't already figured it out, I was named for her and have always been proud of the fact. She was an extremely benevolent person that would give money, food, or clothing to anyone in need.

Her favorite holiday was Christmas, and she had a huge tree in her formal living room that she left up all year. She loved to show guests the Christmas tree, no matter what time of year. In fact, at Halloween, in her witch costume, she would ask the children who climbed her steps for candy whether they'd like to see her Christmas tree in the Parlor. Most of the kids would say, "No! Someone's going to jump out and scare me!" This was followed by a swift candy grab and exit. The few that were brave enough to venture around the corner were pleasantly surprised by the large tree adorned with beautiful ornaments and lights. Most of her ornaments were the nice expensive kind; hand-blown glass from Germany, but a few where from an earlier time when my father was a boy. She had three vintage colored plastic, teardrop-shaped ones. They were tucked in places unnoticed by most people, but I always knew where to look. They were my favorites because each one had a miniature 3-D nativity scene inside. I can still recall the exact placement of each one.

When JennyMom passed away in 1998, we did the usual going-through everything and splitting items up among the family. The last thing we tackled was the tree. Each ornament was taken off and delicately wrapped in tissue paper. It was the first time in my life that I'd seen the tree bare. As we removed my three favorite vintage ornaments, I asked whether I could keep them, since they were of no real value to anyone but me. Everyone agreed that I could take them, and I packed them away with the others in our pile.

For every Christmas since my grandmother's passing, we have proudly hung the miniature nativities on our family tree.

They don't match our usual theme of blue and green, but it doesn't matter. This is the last year I'll put them on my parent's tree, because next year, I'll have my own tree to decorate with my new husband. I hope that these small, seemingly insignificant pieces of holiday decoration, will be in my family for many years, and bring enjoyment to everyone.

I wanted to share this story as a reminder that Christmas is a time to look back and reflect on the wonderful memories with family and friends. It's also a time to look forward to the many more memories that will be made in the future. Most of all, it's a time to embrace the childlike wonder that Christmas brings by simple gestures like hanging your favorite family ornaments on the tree. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Web posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010

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