Trimming The Tree & Untangling Mixed Emotions


It’s that time of year: time to break out the decorations and dress up our homes for Christmas. 

Sometimes it can become work, especially if you wait until the temperature outside is in the 30s, or worse, before putting up the lights.

It can give you the opportunity to reminisce about good times. On the other hand, it can bring up painful memories. Decorating can bring about many mixed feelings: loneliness for those of you who do not have family or friends nearby; pain for those who have lost a loved one; anger, for those who have suffered a break in their family due to divorce.   

Decorating for Christmas has helped me remember the good times our loving Father has placed in my life rather than focusing on the bad.

My favorite part of decorating the home is putting up the Christmas tree and trimming it with ornaments collected during my travels. Over the years I have collected several ornaments that bring up fond memories of places far away and times long ago. 

I started collecting Christmas ornaments when I was in college. I spent a semester of my junior year in Germany. During one of my many weekend sightseeing journeys I found myself in the beautiful walled village of Rothenburg, which has a wonderful Christmas store located near the village center. I went in and bought many ornaments, most of which I gave away as gifts. But I kept one, and it still makes me smile when I place it on the tree. It’s obvious that I was a college student when I bought this ornament.

This next set of ornaments (right) I bought while on my honeymoon in England. We happened upon a Christmas store while in the wonderful city of York that sold these locally made ornaments. 

These ornaments came from a trip I took to Ireland. We wanted to get something that reminded us of our trip and could not find any true Christmas ornaments that fit the bill, so we improvised and used simple trinkets. 


This last picture is of a wooden ornament made by Native Americans that I bought at an arts-and-craft show in Arizona. It’s always nice to think of warm and sunny Arizona while I am sitting in cold and snowy Michigan.

When I was splitting up possessions during my divorce these ornaments were high up on my list of must haves. I got the ornaments and she got my homemade tree watering system. It was a good split because I can always make another tree watering system, but I can never replace these ornaments or the memories they evoke. 

Even though I found many of these special ornaments before my divorced, they still bring back memories of happier times. While filling out the lengthy questionnaire for my annulment, all that was going through my head was the pain, hurt, anger and disappointments I suffered during my marriage. 

As Christians we are called to focus on the good and not to dwell on the bad. These ornaments help me remember the good times and the growth that came from my failed marriage. It is amazing how God uses our worst experiences to grow us, as long as we allow that growth to happen.

I wanted and needed to have these ornaments so they could remind me of those happy memories rather than just the pain and hurt. 

Being divorced can make the holidays feel lonely and empty at times. Without the kids around bouncing off the walls with excitement or the smells of cookies baking in the kitchen, it can be hard to get into the season. I use my favorite Christmas ornaments as one way to connect back to more joyous times and also to help me look forward to all the beautiful places I will go in the future, continuing my hunt for my next ornament.



  1. Shammy-773182 November 28, 2011 Reply

    Hi. My name is Shammy and I just joined CM. I moved to Vacaville, Ca a couple of years ago. It has been a lonely experience for me. Aside from my wonderful church family (who tend to be older, more established folks), I have not been able to make any friends. I have a private practice so I am isolated at my job. My family and friends are 2 hrs away. I would love to return home but God has me here now. Any ideas, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If you are a male or female in this area looking for friendship, please message me.

  2. Vivian-787673 November 27, 2011 Reply

    Hi, my name is Vivian I’m new to this and have never been able to get into the chat rooms they are always full. I guess messages and would be a better way to communicate? I really prefer to meet the person and have a good conversation face to face in a coffee shop or a public place. If you are interested in talking to me you can leave me a message. Until then peace.

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