W hen Bobby and I were gearing up to celebrate our first married Christmas together, we realized that we didn’t have many ornaments for our tree. We went to Target and got some baubles to fill up the tree, but it left me longing for a tree like my parents have – one where every ornament has a story.

This tradition sprung from that desire – to build a collection of ornaments that were meaningful to us. I love rituals that help mark the years of marriage (like the Anniversary Journal we fill out every year) and it fills me right up to think about how such traditions will be able to bring us back to each chapter of our story even when we’re old and grey.

Here’s the lowdown on how it works: every Christmas, Bobby and I must each obtain one ornament for the other person that we feel symbolizes a big part of our year together. We can buy it or make it. Ideally, it’s a surprise and doubles as a Christmas gift or stocking stuffer.

For our first Christmas, I came up with this idea as we were decorating the tree – it didn’t give us much time to go searching for the perfect ornament. Still, Bobby was able to find a hilarious and gaudy Heinz mustard bottle ornament (On clearance, no less! I can hardly imagine why that wasn’t a big seller!). He snapped it up and gifted it to me, explaining that it symbolized our wedding – mustard yellow was one of our main wedding colors and I had a pretty big obsession with that color at the time.

For my ornament to him, I decided I’d make one out of a key to symbolize our first year living together and creating a home. I was going to make a copy of our key and then make it gold and glittery and possibly add the numbers of our New Orleans street address. If you’re astute to sentence structures, you may have noticed that I haven’t actually carried out this idea yet – things slipped away on me! Mark my words, though, I’m still going to create this key – although it won’t be a copy of the actual key. (So there’s hope even if you’ve been married for a number of years and want to institute this tradition – it doesn’t have to be perfect, and you’re always allowed to gift ornaments retroactively.)

Here’s a photo of our small collection of ornaments so far. The mustard bottle that Bobby gave me for our first year is still in New Orleans storage, and I realized that he didn’t gift me an ornament for our 2nd year. See? You can still do this project without being perfect. It’s still fun and meaningful, I promise.

For Year 2, Bobby and I were in the long-distance-marriage phase of life and he was in Vermont for half the year while I was still teaching in New Orleans. To commemorate this double-dipping, I created an ornament from two state quarters by super glueing a Vermont and Louisiana quarter together.

There are three ornaments for this year – mainly because I just couldn’t decide between that amazing cat and the unicorn ornament. After agonizing over it in the store, I decided to indulge and buy both. The unicorn symbolizes my Etsy shop and all the magic that has come from this new career path of mine – Bobby has been such a big part of that and I thought it deserved commemorating. The cat is in homage to our road trip home from working the Masters tournament – I actually have a photo in another blog post about the knick-knacky cats I found in a South Carolina gas station. I didn’t buy them at that time, so when I found this ornament it felt like life was giving me a second chance – and such a perfect second chance at that, since it could remind us of working our first tournament together. The more stately ornament of Augusta is Bobby’s ornament to me – it wasn’t a surprise since we bought it together while working the tournament, but it just seemed like the perfect fit for this tradition.

I plan to find a mini notebook that I can fashion into an ornament of its own. That way we can make a note of which ornament corresponds to which year and include a brief explanation.

I can’t wait to have a tree filled with meaningful, funny, quirky ornaments that each hold a story!