Every December, I feel a renewed connection to Italy and other places I’ve visited. The reason for this is that whenever I travel, I try to pick up a Christmas ornament or decoration to bring home with me. This tradition puts a big smile on my face as I decorate my house for the season. I love rediscovering ornaments, hanging some on the tree and placing other decorations on the mantel or on a shelf and thinking of where I found each small treasure.
For a traveler like me, committed to packing light when I travel, tucking a small ornament in my suitcase for the trip home is easy. Even the glass ornaments I have brought back to the States, carried in my suitcase and cradled in clothing for protection, have arrived safely.
Another reason for my ornament-collecting tradition is that I have been a fan of minimalism since well before it became trendy. I don’t like a lot of clutter, so I tend to confine mementos from my trips to photos and holiday decorations that are displayed only once a year. For me, that makes my souvenirs a bit more special. They don’t fade into the background of daily life. Instead, for the month I have my Christmas tree up, I look at them and fondly recall the beautiful places I’ve seen and the wonderful people I’ve traveled with and met along the way.
The red star above is a cloisonné ornament I got in China; the gold leaf is from Durango, Colo.; the silver stocking is from London. For some reason, it reminds me of Princess Di. On the far right is a hand-blown glass hot-air balloon ornament from, where else?, the hot-air balloon capital of the world!
I've collected so many travel ornaments that I don’t display all of them each year. I pick them up even in my home state, when I visit a place I haven’t been to in a while or when I journey to a landmark event, such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The ornaments I've collected are displayed alongside another irreplaceable holiday memento: a handcrafted reindeer made by my father, who died three years ago. From him, I inherited my love for language(s) and writing, and from my mother (who died a year after my dad), I inherited my love for traveling. Those are gifts I carry with me wherever my travels take me.
Happy holidays and may 2018 include people and places you love! -post by JG