According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will each spend an average of $53.68 for Christmas decorations this year. As the owner of five small and one large Christmas tree, that seems kind of a low-ball estimate.
But, honestly, no matter what you spend, the best part of Christmas is getting to revisit some of your favorite ornaments and decorations each year at this time. Here are some of mine. Their collective insurable value? $O.
Five limber elves: One of my first Christmas memories is of a collection of five wooden elves in gymnastic poses. They were a gift to my parents when they had five children. I was number six. So, to me, they've always been a part of Christmas. When I was little I thought they came to life when I went to bed. (Yes, Elf on a Shelf, send the royalty checks my way.) They live with my sister and I look forward to visiting them every year.
Bouffant angel: One of my favorite decorations is an angel with a bouffant hairdo and green "gems" for eyes. I like it so much, I leave it out year-round. It's on a bookcase just outside my bedroom. I bought it at an estate sale for 50 cents. If the house burned down I'd grab my angel after, of course, my daughter and my pets. But right after.
Mrs. Riley's angel: When I was in the second grade in Catholic school, my teacher Mrs. Mary Riley brought in a bunch of things to share with her students. Among the items was a 60s-era plaster angel. I loved it because Mrs. Riley clearly loved me. She may have even called me "bright." She let me help other kids with their schoolwork. She didn't, however, give me the penmanship certificate I didn't, and still don't, deserve.
The tree topper: For years and years, a stuffed Snoopy with candy stripped antlers topped my tree. I loved it and don't know why except, maybe, I played Snoopy in a play once when I was 5 years old, and my daughter was born on Christmas Eve.
But one year my daughter, a traditionalist in some forms of decor, insisted we had to have an angel on top of the tree. I relented and bought a beautiful blonde angel in a gown of white. There she glowed one night after my daughter had been tucked into bed. So pure. So white. So unsullied. So like a million other angels on a million other trees.
I broke out the glue gun and added a trail of colorful beads down her front. Now she is among my favorite things.
Mr. Tree: When I was pregnant with my daughter in 1998, the local drug chain in my Orlando neighborhood was giving away giant stuffed toys. The way you won was to fill out a slip and put it in a box. The rules did not limit the number of entries. Most of the hundreds of slips in the box for the stuffed Christmas tree were handwritten by me. I was nesting. I was growing a human. I needed that stuffed tree.
My daughter likes it so much she keeps it in her room year round.
She's talked about plans to take Mr. Tree to college.