The Red Christmas Ball

Every year while decorating the tree, I always look forward to seeing certain ornaments again. I push aside ornaments in the box to reach for a favorite to hang on the tree. Always pushing aside the same ones year after year. They don’t always make it to the tree.  Why do I keep them?

Growing up, we always had to hang the boring red balls first before we could hang any “fun” ornaments. My mom even had small ones in groups of three hanging by thread so you couldn’t see it and no hooks. We would hang them forever! “Is there enough NOW?” We pleaded. This doesn’t even sound like the mother I know now.

And so when I got married I had red balls too. Isn’t that what you are supposed to have? Having celebrated 25 years together this year, we have accumulated many ornaments. And although now we have some beautiful antiqued, jeweled, glittered and etched balls, we still have many red balls from our early years. A few of these red balls have become my prized ornaments. They are chippy, faded and loved.

Drew, our oldest was born December 20th. So on his 2nd Christmas we had a toddler. We decorated the tree while he slept. That morning I turned on the Christmas tree lights and set him down in his little footie PJs. He padded over to the tree and sat down. He sat there for 30 minutes. Watching. His hands in his lap. Quietly. Watching.

His goodness didn’t last and he became enamored with the red balls and would “pick” them off the tree. He would mouth them and the red would come off and get all over his mouth and face. He knew he wasn’t supposed to “pick” them, because I would find him hiding behind the tree and licking to his heart content. We had to take all the red balls off the tree. Over the last 18 years these precious licked on balls have slowly met their demise and now I’m down to just a few special reminders of my sweet son and his second Christmas.

As I dug through the box of ornaments searching for the next favorite to hang I got a huge lump in my throat, as it was a licked on ball. But my son is in another state at college, our his first year. With traveling we were short on time and had picked out the tree and lights on while he was here at Thanksgiving but didn’t get to the ornaments.  Such sadness I felt. How fast the time has gone. I can still feel him, warm and soft in those PJs. 

We still have a box of ornaments left. I am saving them till he gets home in a few weeks.  I put the ball in that box. I want him to hang it up.

I pray you treasure the blessings in your life especially today.



I posted this on Wednesday and that night at church my mom gave me a gift bag with Sue cookies my dad had baked and she said there was a surprise in there from her as well. When I got home I opened it and it was this wonderful redwork piece she had been making for me for Christmas. She had read my post and couldn’t wait until Christmas for me to have it. What a wonderful gift!! How so very special to know that we were reminiscing about the same Christmas. redwork

When Drew came home from college I had him put the ball on. He quickly put it on between plays on the football game on tv. It was lost on him. But not me. I thought about his big hands and how small the ball was now.  One day he will though. DSC_0015the ball


13 thoughts on “The Red Christmas Ball

  1. you know, katey, when i was a little girl, my mother had just red balls. hung on thread…3 to a group. imagine that!! there is something to be said for traditions…and the memories that cling to them. on the other hand, there is something for making your own traditions and memories for your own personal family and their likes and dislikes. and this year i have red and silver balls both…in this my 50th year of marriage. enjoy! love, mom

  2. Awesome story…so sweet that he was enamored with the tree and then the hilarious picture (in my mind) of him hiding and licking the red balls. Hilarious.

  3. So so sweet! Precious picture of Drew! It is hard to do things when they are not here but we just make new memories and laugh more when we are together! I gave Jamie her box of ornaments this year! Now that is hard! She is making her own memories and traditions!

  4. Sweet story. Thanks! I did keep wondering what toxins he ingested when he licked that paint off. Didn’t seem to affect him.

      • Such a sweet story and brught tears – they do grow up toooo fast – Just wait now for the grandchildren – – after college of course – these are great days too – but still not quite the same as with our own – we are just too young at the time to realize it! I love your blog.

  5. Katey, that is a great memory and thank you for sharing. My Viva also had some ornaments that she licked and the little soldier didn’t make it into packing after Christmas but showed up in her toy box. She only licked the top so he appeared to have lost his hat and hair and was just a little bald soldier. Sweet, sweet.


  6. Rereading this and looking at your tree – I have the same dalmation on the sled ornament that is still hanging on my tree as I write.

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