Decorating The Tree

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.

I’m sitting right beside our tree as I type this and ooooh it makes me happy!

I love the smell and the temporary presence of a green, tall visitor in the corner. Sitting at the very top are two small bears, one white and very well-loved, who’s been a part of my life since I was about three. Another bear, brown, sits up there, and a white wool Arctic hare that Jose bought me for Christmas a few years ago.

We have the usual glittery glass balls, stars, a Santa (albeit with a baseball bat!). But our tree, like most people’s, has several items that are near and dear to us:

— a strand of papier mache chile peppers, testament to Jose’s New Mexico roots (his grandfather, Pedro Lopez, even started and ran a chile powder company in Topeka, Kansas)

— a small daguerrotype of a young man looking very serious, a tribute to our shared love for, and careers in, photography and my love of antiques

— several carved wooden airplanes — we love to travel!

— small beaded ornaments made by the Maasai of Kenya, a place I visited when I was 26, one of the best trips of my life

— a homemade ornament with a sepia photo of skaters at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. I love to skate and we live just north of the city

— a few of the many annual ornaments created of The White House; Jose served in the press corps there for 8.5 years, and covered Reagan, G.H.W Bush and Clinton. On one of our first dates (!) we visited the White House, took our photos while standing at the pres-room podium — and even saw the Oval Office, where the President works. Very cool.

— a small red set of identification papers belonging to a man whose life may or may not have ended around the time Jose found it — while photographing during Christmas 1995 in the mountains of Bosnia, in a former ski chalet that had been turned into a field hospital. We add it to our tree to honor this unknown man, and all war photographers.

What are the ornaments on your Christmas tree that have special significance for you?