Christmas – When the Children were Young

We gave our first child a Christmas ornament for her first Christmas. It was a rocking horse. A year later, when we were shopping for another ornament for her second Christmas, we found another rocking horse that was especially cute. And tradition began.

Bears for Jeff

Bears for Jeffrey © 2012 Bo Mackison

Then her brother was born, and when Christmas came around, we hung a third rocking horse for our daughter and the first of many Teddy bears for our son. Since our son was a Valentine’s Day baby, we often combined the bear with a heart theme.

Horses for Jeanne

Horses for Jeanne © 2012 Bo Mackison

After a few years, we discovered Teddy bear ornaments were a breeze to find. Most years, we had our choice of a dozen bears of all sorts. But rocking horses became a rare commodity and so we substituted carnival horses, carnival horses, and “zebra” horses.

Angels for Amanda

Angels for Amanda © 2012 Bo Mackison

Our third child was born in the year of the eighth rocking horse and the fifth bear. We added the first angel.

Every year after that, each child hung their collection of special ornaments. That was a fun tradition in itself.

A couple of years ago, we gathered our now adult children together on the day before Christmas Eve, and presented them each with a box of ornaments.  After all, there aren’t many trees large enough to graciously hold thirty rocking horse ornaments, twenty-seven Teddy bear ornaments, and twenty-three angel ornaments, plus all the other ornaments collected over thirty-five Christmases.

Now the family tree is a little bare, and each child’s own Christmas tree has a large collection of a specially themed ornament. It was a fun tradition while it lasted, and each year everyone anticipated the presentation of the ornaments made from all sorts of materials – dough ornaments, silver ones, porcelain ornaments, glass, wood, ceramic, and even macrame ornaments were a part of our tree.

Traditions are a big part of meaning making for holidays, and the tiny ornaments added an extra dimension of connection for our family. It was our special way of saying “Merry Christmas” to each other.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. A lovely tradition, and lovely photos.

  2. Absolutely loved these photos, and the story too. Remembering traditions is something I will always treasure.

  3. What a great idea; lovely post; happy memories.

  4. Treasured memories to hold dear to your heart as your children grow older Bo. Who knows, perhaps the tradition will begin again someday, when your grandchildren arrive!

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