The Ornament Issue by Barbara Tomporowski

I have something exciting to share with you all today! I’m participating in Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas Blog Tour. We’re all exchanging blog posts and whatnot about the holidays and today is mine turn to host. Woo-hoo! I’m so excited to bring to you a piece of writing from Barbara Tomporowski about holiday traditions. Be sure to read all the way to the end because there’s some info about an awesome giveaway you won’t want to miss!


Morgana threw a string of Winnie the Pooh Christmas ornaments onto a pile of evergreen garlands. I winced as Tigger’s plastic tail bounced off my bubbling candle lights.

She glared at me. “Why can’t I have my ornaments on your tree?”

“They don’t exactly go with my glass birds,” I said mildly to my daughter, striving for the peace and harmony we are supposed to achieve during the holiday season. “We’ll put a second tree in the family room, like we did last year. Or you can have your tree in the front porch, like the year before, and it’ll be the first thing everyone sees when they come up the front walk. Isn’t that great?”

“Nobody saw the tree in the family room, and no one wanted to help me decorate the porch.”

“That’s not true. We play games in the family room every week, and we all helped you decorate–”

“–That was two years ago. Half the ornaments fell off when Vic carried my tree through the door, and the rest broke when the temperature reached -40. Last year, you were the only one who helped decorate the porch, because the rest of our friends said it was ‘too cold.’ Why live in Saskatchewan if you can’t stand a little cold?”


“My name is Morgana! And all I want is to have some of my ornaments on this stupid tree!”

“Well, if it’s so stupid, why are you upset about it?” Our friend Vic interjected, not very helpfully. I glowered, praying he would have the good sense to stay out of this conversation.

But Morgana’s eyes were moist, so I sighed and gave up my plan for a colour-coordinated, neo-Victorian Christmas. Okay, maybe I caved, but I could tell she really wanted her ornaments on the tree in the living room where everyone would admire them. They’re only ornaments, I told myself.

“Okay, how about a compromise,” I said. “You decorate half the tree with your ornaments, and I’ll do half with mine. Deal?”

“Deal!” she said gleefully, and got down to the serious business of adorning the house for the holiday season.

Every year, my friends and family help transform my living room – and, increasingly, the front porch and the family room – into a Christmas wonderland. Birds festoon the tree and the garlands over the fireplace. Hand-embroidered stockings dangle from the mantle, and a tea light glows inside a glass star surrounded by crimson candles on the table.

Getting together to decorate is a holiday tradition that has almost achieved the importance of a pre-Christmas ritual. In late November, I tease my male friends that it’s the time of year that tests a man’s character, an event more fraught with anxiety than buying a birthday gift for a mother-in-law, more dreaded than celebrating a three month anniversary that happens to fall on Valentine’s Day.

What is this gargantuan task? It’s the annual tussle of untangling Christmas lights and stringing them around the tree. As soon as Vic and Lynal wrestle them into position, my other friends hang the ornaments while I carefully arrange cardinals, sparrows, peacocks and doves between the bulbs and branches.

Morgana does at least one third of the work, for in addition to helping decorate two or three Christmas trees, she arranges my miniature Victorian village. First she has to remember which of the shops, mansions and taverns she used last year and how she laid them out. Then she creates a new display, placing the ponds, trees and buildings onto risers covered with green fabric, vinyl cobblestones and cotton batting so the village appears to emerge from parks, lanes and hillsides. Finally, she adds the figurines: a gentleman wearing a top hat escorts a lady with a gift-wrapped box, and a quartet strikes up a Christmas carol as children pursue a puppy toward the icy fountain.

Morgana and the first Christmas villageThe village alone is a lot of work, which is why Morgana has earned a say about the ornament issue. It’s hardly surprising that she wants to tie an inflatable Winnie the Pooh to the front lawn while I like replica castles and tiny cathedrals. I buy Fluevogs; she wears hoodies and sweatpants. Her favourite show is WWE wrestling; I barely turn on a television.

But I’m glad I gave her half the tree that year, because now she’s an adult and she recently moved into her own apartment. Instead of complaining about the tacky knickknacks she’ll want on my tree, I’m wondering if she’ll come home and help me decorate. Will her boyfriend be more important than our annual holiday ritual? Will I walk in the door and find the Christmas village waiting, or will I have to put it up alone?

If she doesn’t help me decorate, maybe I won’t bother, for what I’ve come to understand is that the tree and decorations are far less important than creating Christmas together.

The birds, the trees, the miniature buildings – they’re only ornaments. The real value of the holiday season lies in time spent with my parents, my children and my friends, and they won’t always be here.

Barbara Tomporowski writes, dances, and does photography. When she’s not doing that, she’s organizing events for arts, culture and justice organizations at the local, provincial and national levels. Follow Barbara Tomporowski on Facebook.

Now, about that giveaway. It’s all set up on Rafflecopter and includes tons of books like Seeing the Light by E.C. Bell, I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen, and signed copies of FaeCorvidae, and Scarecrow all of which are edited by Rhonda Parrish. Plus, there are other nifty goodies in the giveaway, too, like art prints, electronic copies of books, and a coffee cup cozy knitted by yours truly. See the full list over at Rhonda’s blog.

Entering the giveaway is super easy. Just use the form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And once you’ve done that, you should definitely check out the rest of the posts in this blog tour. For instance, there’s a post up today on Rhonda’s blog by S.L. Bynum. Or yesterday’s posts by Jaylee James and E.C. Bell.


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Brenda Stokes Barron is a freelance writer and blogger for hire. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's spending time with her family and two crazy cats. Keep up with her antics (which often include trips to Starbucks) on all the usual social network places.