I love decorating for the holidays. Some of my favorite memories involve decorating the house with my Mom. We decorated for every holiday, but Christmas was our specialty. We decked every hall with touches of Christmas, both new and old.

Unboxing decorations was like taking a look into Christmas past. We would smile as we unwrapped each carefully packaged decoration, retelling stories and reminiscing about holiday memories, including the good, the bad, and the weird.

The hardest thing about losing my childhood home to foreclosure was when my Mom and I opened up the Christmas boxes on a summer evening to divide up the holiday decorations. My parents were moving to Indiana, and I was going to stay behind in California and move in with my boyfriend Chuck. It was hard enough that my parents were moving across the country, but splitting up our family of Christmas decorations felt equally heartbreaking.

My Mom took the knickknacks my grandmother had painted and my grandfather’s nativity set. I kept all the stuffed animals and the light up Santa and Mrs. Claus my grandmother got for me when I was seven. I kept the wooden reindeer and sleigh and she took the snowman made of tube socks.

Today, the Christmas decorations of my childhood live among the Christmas decorations I’ve bought for myself as an adult, and I’ve come to realize that I’ve created the most bizarre collection of holiday cheer.

My lighted Santa and Mrs. Claus serve as bookends on the fireplace mantel. I have two other Santa figurines from my childhood on the mantel, but this year they are joined by holiday Funko Pop! figures from the Star Wars Christmas collection. I have Chewbacca wrapped in Christmas lights, a Yoda Santa and an R2-D2 with reindeer antlers. I also have a dancing Baby Groot from Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” resting in a green pot adorned with a red bow.

My Christmas stuffed animals include a gingerbread boy and girl, the Velveteen rabbit, a Mickey Mouse in a Santa suit and a polar bear and penguin wearing tossel hats and knit scarves. They sit in front of the fireplace, flanking another one of my new additions: a lighted narwhal.

I’m not sure what narwhals have to do with Christmas, but when I saw the smiling blue whale at Target last year, I had to have it. The wire frame is covered in a glittery mesh of tinsel that twinkles when the lights are on. I named it Clarabelle the Christmas Narwhal, and she is the cutest sea creature in my house this time of year.

The Christmas tree has also become a hodge-podge of holiday memories new and old. The tree is dressed in ornaments from my childhood as well as ornaments from my Mom’s youth. And of course there are the ornaments that my husband Chuck and I have bought together. Captain America and Iron Man are keeping watch over the ceramic snowman and snowwoman my grandmother painted. Next to the reindeer ornament I got in a Happy Meal when I was a child is a San Jose Sharks ornament signed by Timo Meier. It’s a quirky looking tree, but it’s ours, and I love it.

This year our tree is topped by a mouse wearing a blue dress. My mom loves mice, and she has an ornament just like mine. We bought them together during the year we visited a Christmas faire in Napa. Another decoration. Another memory.

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.


Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.