I tend to buy an ornament that somehow reflects the year. It started as something I’d get Jim for Christmas every year, but morphed into souvenirs from trips or something else to commemorate the year. I don’t always do it, and I don’t always remember what I bought. The first few years, I wrote down what I’d bought and where, but that good habit didn’t last.
1987: Jim’s company Christmas party
Jim and I started dating in November, 1987. We were finishing up our engineering degrees and hung out with a pretty tight group of students. So I wanted to keep our new relationship quiet to avoid weird group dynamics. I swore my roommates (who were part of this group) to secrecy.
One night in December,close to finals, another friend was over studying with two of my roommates. We were all in that last sprint towards finals: wearing sweats and not caring about appearances. Suddenly, I came downstairs wearing a red silk dress and Jim arrived at the door, clean shaven and wearing a suit. I casually said good bye and we waltzed off, leaving our friend staring at my roommates and saying “What just happened here?” They replied, “well, we’re not supposed to say anything, but…..”
1989: Our first married Christmas
Others got us the typical “First Year” Christmas ornaments. I got Jim something that merged two things he likes: firearms and tools.
I also bought this reindeer at a Christmas store in Sonoma. Living in San Francisco and in possession of a new Miata, one of our favorite things to do on the weekend was to go for a drive, often up to Marin, Napa, or Sonoma.
1990: Scuba Tank
Jim started diving when we were dating in San Diego. After we moved to San Francisco, he’d go back to Southern California occasionally to dive with his buddies.
1991: San Francisco Rhinoceros
I bought this Rhino (a private joke) for Jim at the pet store off Union Square that had been featured in Hitchcock’s The Birds. The store is no longer there.
1992: Ferndale & Disney World
In 1992 we went to Ferndale to celebrate our third anniversary. We stayed at a wonderful B&B, Gingerbread Mansion, saw an unintentionally hilarious community theater production, and I bought this little rocket ship.
That Fall we went to Mississippi to visit my Great Aunt Harriet (yes, I really had one) and then to Disney World. At Disney World, we bought this Pigment because we loved the ride at Epcot, and this little stocking just because.
1993: We buy our house in Rio Rancho, NM
We loved that little house and I cried when we drove away three years later.
1994: We see the Lion King
We enjoyed brewing beer, but stopped after the first batch we made in Oregon was a disaster and we realized that finding good beer in Portland was pretty easy.
1995: We brew beer
Jim and I saw the Lion King when it came out this year and thought it was great, though if any movie could make you want children, it’s this one. (The Circle of LIFE!). We got over the scare though – and how could I resist this pair of lion cubs?
1996: We buy our house in Portland
After having eight addresses in eight years, I wanted to to stay here at least five years. It’s been seventeen.
2000: Russia and More
We went on a Northern Europe cruise with my parents. We bought a set of six of these in St. Petersburg. I would have bought more as gifts, but this was the last set.
2006: Our first Christmas with just the two of us
Being an only child, I was a bit worried the first time we spent Christmas away from any of our family. It turned out to be lovely.
2007: Mainz Christmas Market
I had the good fortune to spend a week in Mainz for work that December. I bought this little nativity set in a walnut shell. I also bought Christmas sausages with Father Christmas on them, but they were confiscated by the FDA when I reentered the US.
2011: York and Stockholm
I tagged along with Jim on a business trip. In York, I had one of the best days ever, which included attending a service at the Minster that was officiated by the Archbishop of York. After the service I stopped in the gift shop where they had this fabulous ornament of the Archibishop. I keep it out year round on my dresser to remind me of that day.
Christmas shopping at Nordstrom that December, I found this glass ornament and bought it for Jim.
2012: Festival of the Last Minute
I work near Saturday market, and wandered over on a beautifully clear and cold day to do some last minute Christmas shopping. This one was originally meant to be a present, but I kept it. It’s a nice reminder of how much we love Oregon
2013: Aurora Borealis and Viable Paradis
In March we went to Alaska with my parents and Jim’s mom to see the Aurora Borealis. I’m pretty sure we bought this reindeer there. But maybe not. It’s cute, though, right?
One of the best times of my life, and one of the best things I could have done for my writing: Viable Paradise. (Yes, I did look for a jellyfish ornament, but none of the ones I found were worthy.)
This year I bought an ornament to commemorate attending the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop. Karen, one of my classmates, suggested that this tradition would make a good blog post. So, Jim agreed to photograph, and here, as best as Swiss cheese memory can recall, is some of our history.
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