Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our Lives in Ornaments: 2012 Edition

Long-time readers of this blog will know that when Jeff and I married in 2006, we began participating in an annual tradition begun by the family of my mother-in-law’s husband when his children were young: the annual Ornie Competition. I first mentioned it on this blog back in 2008, the year I started the blog. That year, I showed pictures of all the ornaments that were entered into the competition and even had an online poll about who should have been the winner—Jeff won the online version of the competition, and I won the family one. In 2009, I only shared my own ornament, which represented a special moment at an orphanage where I volunteered. For some reason, I did not post about the competition at all in 2010. In 2011, I described Jeff’s, Alexa’s, and my ornaments, but not the others.

This year was a big one for the competition—my mother-in-law and her husband visited her “bonus” (i.e., step) daughter and son-in-law for Thanksgiving, and the scheduling worked out so that we Skyped with them for the competition during an open house in which around 30 guests were present. We had a total of 14 ornaments entered into the competition—I couldn’t describe them all if I wanted to now, just a few short hours after the competition’s end. My favorites were ours of course (which I’ll describe below); the picture of the new grandson’s first smile, directed at the happy grandfather;  and the winning ornament, presented by the new mother, who tearfully described her empty heart as she searched for her son (he’s adopted) and the joy and love that filled her heart when she first touched his hand and realized he was hers—her ornament was a clear heart, previously empty, now containing her son’s newborn hospital bracelet.

But enough about other people’s ornaments. Let’s talk about ours.

Jeff's 2012 ornament

 Jeff’s ornament this year was purchased very early on, in March. His favorite college basketball team, the University of Kentucky Wildcats, won the NCAA Championship. Before the night was out, he was online, ordering commemorative cups and his ornament. As he explained today, however, the ornament represents more than a single team’s victory. It represents the slower pace of life that we’ve enjoyed this year in Cambodia and the time that we’ve had to relax and engage in hobbies after the craziness that was last year.

Alexa's 2012 ornament
Alexa’s ornament, in my less than humble opinion, is perfect for her this year. She loves it so much that she's already broken it by trying to play with it, as you can see in the picture. (Don't worry, though; a replacement--with which she will not be allowed to play--is on the way.) 

So why is this ornament so perfect for her? Here’s my Facebook status from 3 March 2012: “Alexa watched her first episode of Curious George today. She danced to the intro music; laughed, pointed, and exclaimed 'Uh-oh!' at all of his mishaps with wind, papers, and kites; and then, at the end, looked at me hopefully, pointed at the TV, and said ‘More uh-oh?’ I think she liked it.” Ever since then, she’s been obsessed with Curious George, or Uh-Oh, as she calls him. Her plush Curious George doll gets carried around the house constantly.  She has two anthologies of Curious George books, and the 15 stories contained in them are the ones she wants me to read over and over. One of her favorites is “Curious George Flies a Kite,” which opens with George playing with a ball—and Alexa loves to throw and chase balls, too. This 2011 Hallmark ornament perfectly captures all three of Alexa’s major loves: Curious George, books, and balls. What could be more fitting?

Deborah's 2012 ornament
Finally, my ornament represents Cambodia and the adjustment process that has resulted in me feeling at home here. I was warned before I came here to expect bugs and ants. I do not believe that I was told about geckos—little (usually) lizards that eat bugs and that therefore like to live in areas where there are lots of bugs. Geckos were around in Egypt, but honestly, I don’t recall seeing them. Here, however, I saw them a lot, especially at first. Once Jeff explained that geckos eat bugs, I intellectually was okay with them being in my house. Emotionally, however, I still shuddered at the thought of them, much less the sight. But I adjusted. Now the sight of a gecko prompts no shuddering at all, merely a warning: “Just stay high enough that the cats can’t get you; I don’t want to clean up cat vomit later!” Geckos are just a part of life now, although they come into our house a little less than you’d expect. They’ve become almost a symbol of Cambodia for me. We even decided to put geckos on the wall of our playroom as a whimsical salute to the little creatures that eat the bugs. 

Those are the ornaments that best represent our lives this year, be it specific events or overarching themes. What about you? If you were participating in this competition, what would your ornament be, or what event or theme would it represent? Please, share in the comments!

Geckos in the playroom
A real gecko, in the living room


  1. My ornament would be a little DVD movie entitled "Baby Boy" and on it would say "Coming Soon, Spring 2013. "

    1. Karen! That's wonderful news! I had no idea--have you announced it anywhere I should have seen?

      This is the Karen C I'm thinking of, right--childhood friend, been sending a few messages back and forth on Facebook lately?

      Congratulations! I'm thrilled for you.

    2. Yes, it is.. I didn't know if you knew yet or not. I haven't done and official announcement on FB but several people have asked me about it or made comments. Maybe one day I'll post something...

    3. I have Facebook set so that it mostly shows me status updates, pictures, and links, rather than all the little things it could show me--basically shows me what my friends want to share, rather than everything they do or what their friends want to share. So anything that someone else posted on your wall wouldn't have shown up in my news feed.

      You should throw it on there. People you forgot you were friends with will come out of the woodwork to congratulate you :) So exciting!

  2. Mine would prob be one w/ a breastfeeding symbol... maybe a doula one since I started my journey to become one this year.

    1. Hmm, that would be an interesting one to try to find ... I wonder what would count as a symbol of breastfeeding or of being a doula? In a pinch, one with a picture of Mom and Baby snuggling, but if I looked hard enough, I'm sure I could find something more specific. (My usual pattern for my and Alexa's ornaments is to pick the theme, then look at a ton of ornaments with an eye toward whether and how they'd fit the theme--which is how we got a "new home" key to represent all the moving around Alexa did last year, and a Lego airplane with the proceeds going to help homeless people to represent the moving around I did. I think it's a fun challenge to find an ornament to fit a theme that isn't usually celebrated at Christmas--like homelessness, or breastfeeding, or doula-ing.)

    2. There is actually a breastfeeding symbol...

      Not sure what a doula one would be... I suppose the symbol for the school I'm using (Birth Arts International) would be one way to do it... I've seen several other "doula-ish" designs that would work too.


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