The Unexpected Roots of my Christmas Memories

MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HANUKKAH! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ‘Tis FINALLY the season, and I couldn’t be more ready and excited. Seriously – I have been listening to Christmas music since October. #Oops #DontTellSanta

I love unpacking my decorations each year and unearthing things I forgot about, so I’d love to share a story about the roots of some of my favorite decorations. It starts about 10 years ago and involves lots of cookies, lots of Christmas parties, and lots of Santas.

Rewind to 2006. I was 13 and my mom told me one day, “I put you on the schedule next month so you can start working at the shop!” My mom and aunt owned a delightful lunch café and cookie store called Hey, Good Cookies! (better known to us as “the shop”). I wasn’t thrilled at the time, but I knew this day would come eventually.

Hayley (age 13) at the Hey, Good Cookies! drive-through window

Every December we’d have a Hey, Good Cookies! Christmas party – usually at a nice restaurant where us ~15 employees would eat and be merry. My mom and aunt gave us each a Christmas gift as a token of their appreciation. I quickly learned that the gift was the same almost every year: a Christmas figurine from the Jim Shore collection.

As a teen, my thought was, “Oh great, another Santa statue.” Not in an ungrateful way, but 13-year-olds don’t normally appreciate nice décor – all my coworkers were older and loved the gifts.

Fast forward to 2012 – I was 19 and particularly excited to help my parents decorate for Christmas. As we were unboxing decorations, my mom pulled out her Santa figurines. “MOM!!!!! Those are so beautiful!!! Where did you get them???”

“Hayley. This is what we’ve been giving you every year from the shop. You have a bunch of these.”

Oops.

It’s true. I’d collected 6 Santa figurines over the years without realizing their beauty.

Ever since then, my Santa figurines have been a Christmas treasure and my favorite part of decorating – even more than putting up a tree!

The Santas fondly remind me of my years working at “the shop;” making cookie gifts during the holidays and serving warm coffee drinks through the freezing drive-thru window. It was a time of serving and giving, which is what the season is truly all about. Who would have thought a superficial Santa statue could harken such meaning and memories?

While I didn’t fully understand the gifts at the time, they have a story now. They symbolize something so many people love about Christmas: nostalgia. Memories of past Christmases and putting others before yourself. I make sure each Santa has a prominent spot so this meaning isn’t forgotten.

When we have kids, I hope to start traditions that they’ll hold onto for a lifetime and encourage them to serve and love. Even if they don’t truly appreciate it in the moment, it might mean the world to them when they’re older – a token to grasp the nostalgia of Christmas.

What traditions do you hold close every year? Do you have a favorite decoration or activity that gets you in the Christmas spirit? I’d love to hear it!!

If you’d like a Jim Shore figurine in your home, you can find them at Macy’s here: http://www1.macys.com/shop/featured/jim-shore

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