Nothing says Merry Christmas more than an ornament from Alcatraz

Decorating the tree at home is a remembrance of travel — even when it is a Merry Christmas ornament from Alcatraz

At the Cummings household, hanging each Christmas ornament on the tree is an exercise in remembering travel. We get to daydream, with snow on the ground here in Maine, about days past on Mediterranean beaches, clambering through native American cliff-dwellings, and other sojourns.

Placing the Alcatraz Merry Christmas ornament in a prominent position on the tree each year always invokes laughs. Firstly, for its innate inappropriateness for the holidays. And, secondly, for our memories of the appropriate barking of directions by the former guard who was recorded for the head-phone tour of the infamous island prison. My daughter, grandson, and I visited in February 2018. Turn right! Stop! Look to your left! — all shouted so authoritatively that we really felt like inmates.

A Merry Christmas ornament recalls days of togetherness for our family

You are being secretly taxed at airportsWe also hang up a shiny dinosaur from the Museum of Natural History in New York City, visited long ago when my grandson Phinneus, now 17, was still an impressionable little boy. We also have a brass ornament depicting the Supreme Court, a Hawaii scene painted on a round globe, and a shiny ornament depicting a gorilla climbing the Empire State Building.

These are just a few of the many we’ve collected over the years of travel, either together as a family or on separate trips. We’ve even picked up ornaments relatively locally. We’ve purchased an image of the Berlin, New Hampshire, library (and that’s pronounced Ber՛ lin, not Ber lin՛). Plus, we have a Fenway Park ornament. Christmas tree ornaments are our travel souvenirs of choice.

Merry Christmas OrnamentA Merry Christmas ornament for us is a perfect souvenir

I especially like filling out the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Declaration Form when we return from an overseas trip. All I have to declare is maybe an Eiffel Tower ornament from Paris or a gondola ornament from Venice. Maybe there will be a double-decker bus and Queen’s Guard ornaments from England.

Yes, ornament souvenirs are normally quite affordable. While we might only need one, we often pick up two or three on our trips. They more often than not satisfy us for purchases while traveling.

Searching for Christmas ornaments adds to our travel memories every year when we dress our tree.

Merry Christmas OrnamentsDifferent or representative ornaments are fun to seek out. They complement the other memorable ornaments that we’ve collected over the years. There are a few leftovers from my childhood trees and the handmade ones from Phinneus’ youth. Plus, the cat-themed ornaments that are a prerequisite on any Cummings tree.

But, of all the ornaments that we crowd onto our tree each year, it’s the ones we picked up while traveling that provide the greatest memories. They have been sparking fun conversations each December for years.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or a joyful-whatever-you-celebrate this season. Be safe, relish times past, and this New Year let us all toast to being able to travel again in 2021.