For as long as I can remember (18 years to be exact) my husband and I have made it a longstanding family tradition to add an ornament to our Christmas tree every year of our marriage. We vowed to not just buy a bunch of meaningless trinkets to adorn our tree, but to invest in a particular symbol that summed up our year.
Not only did this mean that our first Christmas tree was practically barren of traditional yuletide embellishment (it was actually a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that my husband transported on an Amtrak train from NYC back to our tiny apartment in NJ), it also meant that we had the audacious task of building on something starting from the lonely, tiny ornament that hung amongst the lights that illuminated it. I adored that first little tree my husband surprised me with because it symbolized “the first” of everything that year, but mostly because he had endured quite a few stares throughout the lengthy 2-hour commute.
Our first ornament was not the pricey kind that may run you $50+ and is so fragile that it could break at the slightest touch. As a matter of fact, that first symbol of our year together was probably a mere $5, but was and still is worth much more than any costly contender.
Our first ornament was of a boy and girl, bundled up in their winter gear and building a snowman together. It epitomized our first year as a young husband and wife; living in snow bound New Jersey by ourselves and without family within a 600-mile radius. It signified the building of our future that was created by our love, nurtured by our values, and with God as the foundation.
As the years accumulated, so did our ornaments. As we flourished, so did our Christmas tree. With each year came a new symbol of each year’s meaning. Our first, lonely ornament of the little boy and girl not only still reads “1997” (handwritten with a black Sharpie on its base) but now hangs amongst 17 friends of equal significance and endearment. We now have a ornament symbolizing our first house, each of our children’s first year of life, their first handprint, our first trip to Disney World, our move to Tampa, our trek back from Tampa, the year the girls joined Girl Scouts, etc.
This year’s selection was tough, which meant that 2015 was full of blessings. It was a toss up between the girls’ first year on the basketball team, their first year on the volleyball team, or our fun summer trip to Amelia Islands. Then it struck me (my husband actually) that although this year was abundant in its blessings, milestones and proud moments, something else took place that has changed our lives, each in a different, yet positive way. This was the year that my husband and I became Team Vegan. It was the year that our children’s diet also took a right turn through osmosis. Because of our Vegan influence, they’ve adopted some of our veggie-inspired habits and often have exclusively plant-based meals.
Veganism is a huge step towards improved, overall health, compassion toward all living creatures, awareness of the food we bring into our home, and forethought for the environment our descendants will inherit.
This week, as you put down the cell phones (unless you’re taking family photos or calling long distance loved ones) take a break from social media, and enjoy your family, take a moment of reflection. What ornament would sum up your 2015? Years from now, when you’re recapping your past and telling enthralling stories to the wide-eyed descendants gathered at your feet, what will be your symbol?
May your Christmas be joyous, may 2016 provide new memories, and the symbols from your past continue to bring you comfort, peace, and joy.
From Nicole-K and WhyVeganLife.com