Our Christmas tree doesn’t have a particular theme beyond the mismatched assortment of ornaments that I have collected over the years. Perched on the branches are half a dozen of my baby ornaments, a couple miniature figure skates, and two, brightly bedecked snowmen sitting on the words, “Our First Christmas Together.” I love the jumble of gold and silver beads, tiny chips on plastic apples and the paper Swedish flags purchased from this year’s Christmas market. Each ornament brings me back to a specific time, a certain memory. They’re mini snapshots of a Christmas past.
One of my favourite Christmas memories is getting together as a family to decorate the tree. After spending hours picking out our sometimes scraggly, Charlie Brown reminiscent tree, we’d tote it home and impatiently wait for dad to finish stringing the lights. Mom would pull the decorations out of storage and we’d each be given a little bag with our own personal ornaments. We’d crawl around the tree, reaching and stretching, trying to find the perfect spot. At the end of the day we’d sit together, talking and laughing, sipping our coke and eggnogs, with the tree sparkling in the background.
This is what I want to share with Alistair. Family. Togetherness. Laughter. These are the traditions I want to carry on. And so, as our family continues collecting memories, I shall add a little something special to the tree this year for my boys.
While I’ll probably still buy a generic “First Christmas” ornament for Alistair, I also wanted to create something a little more personal. This is the only year that his handprint will fit inside an ornament, so I knew that I wanted to take advantage of that.
Using an oil based Sharpie, I wrote his name and “My First Christmas” on the outside of the glass. I gave it significant drying time and baked it for thirty minutes at 350° as was suggested online. However, I am a little disappointed with the results. I’ve had to constantly redo letters as they flake off when touched. (If anyone has a remedy for this – let me know!) I would probably lean towards a paint pen for future use on glass ornaments.
Next, I worked on getting a handprint. Since I have a five month old who feels the need to smack himself in the face with an ink covered hand, I enlisted the help of my husband for this part. I used a washable, non-toxic, raised ink pad and pressed his hand against some shiny, white paper that I picked up at Michaels. When I eventually got a hand print that didn’t look like he had eight fingers, I traced a circle around it using the rim of a coffee mug and cut it out. I had purchased a medium sized, glass ornament from Michaels and his handprint fit with just the tiniest bit of room to spare.
To place the print inside the ornament, I tied a white ribbon to the top and rolled the cut-out as loosely as possible in order to avoid creasing the paper. Certain types of paper crease easier than others, so if this is a concern for you, you may want to test it out in advance.
Once the print was inside, I smoothed it out with a pencil and added a few gold sprinkles and curled, ribbon pieces to make it a little more festive.
I tied a couple gold and white ribbons on top and voila – Alistair’s super cute, personalized Christmas ornament.
I also wanted a little ornament on the tree in memory of Landon. I decided to keep it simple, without any extra colour or embellishments: white paper, black ink, white ribbon. After creating Alistair’s ornament and becoming thoroughly frustrated with the Sharpie, I opted not to write on the glass.
At the hospital, a nurse had thoughtfully taken Landon’s footprints and given them to us to keep in a special memory box. I felt that this would be a meaningful way to display them.
I scanned a copy of the footprint into the computer and printed it out on simple white paper. Before cutting the paper into a heart, I glued a white, translucent paper on top to add a bit of texture. I like how this made the scanned footprint look a little more natural but was frustrated by the way this particular paper creased when I put it into the ornament.
I inscribed Landon’s name on the front and wrote the date that he both entered and left this world, July 24, 2014, on the back. I threaded a white ribbon through the heart and tied this in a bow on top of the ornament.
Although these ornaments aren’t perfect, I’m happy with how they turned out! Beautiful memories of a first Christmas.