Tree’s up.

For several years, we eschewed a Christmas tree, opting instead for a family gathering at a son’s condo in Colorado.

This year, after our son bought a home in Santa Barbara, the family will gather here.

So we hauled out the tree, albeit a decent looking artificial one.

Digging into the box of ornaments, my husband said, “There’s a lot of memories here.”

Jim took out the shabby angel for the top of the tree from its traditional resting place, a 1967 Toronado model kit box. More than once I’ve wished we had the model kit instead of the damned angel.

Faded red balls are left over from our aerospace days moving around the country when all we could afford was a small tree and a box of 12 bulbs.

Cheap and high end, nostalgia and a bit of whimsy mingle on the tree.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire those who create stunning all-white trees. Unfortunately, mine comes in a mish-mash of colors — red, gold, blue, green, silver, even brown — in all shapes and sizes.

On the tree are Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Princess Leia. A rocket sits on a pad, ready for liftoff — a testimonial to our years at Cape Canaveral.

There are an abundance of birds, a throwback to a Cape Canaveral store owner who swore it was a Scandinavian good luck charm to have birds and nests in Christmas trees. Who are we to mess with good luck?

There are other animals — red reindeer with shiny silver antlers, two or three teddy bears, Snoopy.

There are ornament-reminders of when our kids were growing up — a miniature yellow Tonka dump truck, a dollhouse, a football.

There’s a lighthouse, a plethora of trains — two loves of mine.

In a paean to New Mexico are several hot-air balloons, a three-inch-high wood replica of the famed Sanctuario at Chimayo, two Nambé ornaments — one in the shape of a chile, the other set with a turquoise.

There are long-ago gifts from the kids — a paper stocking with names inscribed with red glitter and absolutely the ugliest clay snowman ever, which today nobody takes responsibility for. Conversation pieces, definitely.

On the other hand, there are two exquisite ornaments from Saks Fifth Avenue (an on-sale indulgence when I worked a half-block away).

All, or most, of the ornaments have some meaning, however obscure. But a silver wrench? A tarantula, for God’s sake? Another good luck charm?

Jim grubbed for an ornament he remembered, finding it in the bottom of the box. Triumphantly he held it high — a cheap plastic Santa and sleigh and four tiny reindeer, each with red nose.

I understand how one of the things most mourned by friends who lost their homes in the massive 1990 Painted Cave Fire was Christmas ornaments.

For some, history comes in books.

We find it in ornaments.

Noozhawk contributing writer Sally Cappon is an author and local freelance writer. Contact her at The opinions expressed are his own.