When Sweetie was an infant at his first Christmas, I did what many parents do and had professional holiday pictures taken of him. He couldn't even sit up yet, so I had the laying-down-on-the-fuzzy [blanket/rug/bean bag] photo done with him in his white turtleneck and red Christmas tartan overalls snuggling with a teddy bear in a big red bow. It was challenging to get a decent picture; he was really sleepy and I really wanted one of him awake. It took a few tries ... I would give him his pacifier to settle him down, and the sucking would make him drowsy, then I would reach over to take the pacifier out and get out of the frame quickly, while the photographer snapped furiously before the squawking began. Ultimately we got a cute picture ... but he definitely looks sleepy. Every time I look at that picture I remember that day and smile.
Also like many parents, especially with my first child, I bought a gazillion prints in all sizes. Seriously, my child is the most beautiful child in the world and everyone else loves him as much as I do, right? Of COURSE they want their very own 8 x 10 for the wall, 5 x 7 for the desk, and a wallet to show off to friends. The Ex and I combined have a small family, so I always had way too many pictures left over. While trying to come up with ideas of what to do with some of the extras, I decided to put one in an empty picture frame ornament someone had given me. I didn't know it at the time, but a new tradition started that very day.
When I unpacked my ornaments the next year, I looked at that picture ornament of my 3-month old son and smiled. "Awwww, look how cute and little he was. I remember that day." And then I looked at my then-15 month old son who was "helping" me decorate by shoving tissue paper in his mouth, emptying boxes of decorations, and tugging on strands of lights. I was amazed at how different he looked. I thought it would be fun to make a picture ornament of him at 15 months, and then compare those first two years with what he would look like at 27 months the following year. So I did, and I've done it every year.
When Stinker was born, things changed a little. I was much busier when the second one came along ... I was chasing a 2 year old, working full-time, and when Christmas rolled around, I was going through a divorce. I didn't have as many professional pictures taken of Stinker when he was a baby because of the craziness that was my life, and I certainly didn't buy as many, but I was determined to keep the tradition going. As I scoured the few pictures that I had (in comparison to Sweetie's pictures at his first Christmas), I was challenged to find one that was appropriate for an ornament. I simply didn't have as many to choose from; I didn't take as many, and by then everything had gone digital so I didn't have paper photos laying around. Most shots were in close up. When I was looking through my cache of "leftover" professional photos for a cute picture of Stinker, I stumbled across a wallet-sized picture of both boys at Sweetie's third birthday. They were both wearing Hawaiin shirts and denim shorts and they looked so cute, so I decided to put that one in a frame ornament, too. A new tradition was born.
Now, every year, I add 3 new ornaments to my collection: one of Sweetie, one of Stinker, and one of the two of them together. I have pictures of them at a character breakfast at Disneyland, in Halloween costumes, and in professional portrait poses. I have school pictures, soccer pictures, and candid photos. As I type this, I have 21 ornament frames (not counting the ones they have made for me over the years) hanging on my tree. And the candidates for this year's new ornaments have been selected ...
On this eve of Christmas, it warms my heart to sit in the quiet, look at my tree, and enjoy all of those smiling pictures of my children looking back at me. Peace on Earth. God bless us every one.