At my house there was always the battle of the trees. Mom wanted a fake tree with small white lights and Dad wanted a real tree with big, fat, colored lights.
When it was fake tree time Dad and I were not against dropping $100 on a 12-13 foot tree and then covering it with tinsel.
Dad referred to it as the "Ralphie Tree" in reference to A Christmas Story, which we watched on repeat Christmas Eve and Day.
Mom hated the real tree and was actually allergic to it ... more importantly, she said our tree was tacky (blasphemy!).
They had to alternate each year so they both could get what they wanted, but the ornaments remained the same — most of them handmade by my brothers and myself.
When I moved out and had the opportunity to get my own tree I immediately went for the real tree with big colored lights.
However, I had no ornaments. I bought a few from different stores and then chucked about eight pounds of tinsel on it, making it Christmas' biggest fire hazard — National Lampoon style.
That was two years ago. Since then, I've collected a few special ornaments but more importantly, I've started a very special tradition.
Because placing the homemade ornaments on the tree was always one of the favorite activities at my house, when I began keeping Charlie Gordon each day for his grandparents and Christmas came, I knew that it was time to create an ornament.
Charlie was only one year old so for our first year we created hand and feet prints made out of clay.
He had a blast stomping on clay circles in my kitchen, then helping me put them on a cookie sheet, and it took quite a bit of persuading to convince him these were not cookies you could eat.
His grandmother's face lit up when we presented her with a red, white, and green handprint and footprint ornament of her very own to place on her Christmas tree.
That ornament is hanging at the top of the tree this year.
After Charlie turned two and our second Christmas together came we spent the afternoon watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” while he helped throw tinsel at my Christmas tree (which I still consider to be the best part of decorating).
The bottom half of the tree looked absolutely marvelous thanks to him.
That year we made a handprint ornament by placing his hand flat in paint and then having him grip a blue ornament.
With his fingerprints spread out, and his palm at the base of the ornament, each finger formed the shape of a small snowman. Together we painted eyes, a hat, and a carrot nose.
This year I plan to do another foot ornament with Charlie and when we present it to his grandmother I know that we will get the same reaction my mother gave each time my brothers and I brought home a crafted ornament for her tree.
I hope when Charlie’s in college and comes home to decorate the tree with his grandparents he can have those same fun memories as he looks at handprints that will then be only the size of his palms and will remember his friend Courtney.
I know I'll cherish the afternoons we spent being silly, eating cookies, and getting paint all over my kitchen, walls, clothes, floors, and dog.
Courtney Warren is a staff writer with The Bolivar Commercial.