Sock Monkeys & Tears in the Hallmark Store

Yesterday I was running errands between a photo shoot and an appointment and found myself at the Hallmark store to stock up on cards for upcoming birthdays and holidays. I wandered in and was immediately drawn in by the Christmas ornaments.

I’ve always loved the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree – which I’m pretty positive I got from my mom, who treats tree decorating like a special holiday all in itself. I used to sit and watch her help my grandparents decorate theirs when they got older and no longer did it themselves, and used to help her decorate ours. Since then, I’ve gotten rather (perhaps annoyingly) meticulous about the way I string lights on our own tree (mom taught me a very particular way to do it and anything else is just plain wrong), and I find special joy in stumbling upon the perfect ornament.

There’s just something so wonderful about having unique ornaments – each with their own story. My ornament collection started at my bridal shower, when my mom & sister asked each guest to bring an ornament along with their gift so we would have a collection already started to decorate our first tree with. I’m so happy they did this, because each year as I decorate the tree – I remember the person who gave me each of those ornaments! Memories come rushing back and I smile as I hang each one on the tree. Since then I’ve started collecting ornaments from each trip we take and to commemorate special milestones in our lives. I have ornaments from our first Christmas together in Chicago, from our wedding, from our trip to Hawaii, and many more.

So, naturally… as I strolled through the Hallmark store yesterday – I stopped to see if anything caught my eye to remember life as it is right now. Most of the ornaments were pretty cheesy (like the First House ornament I saw… but don’t worry – I’m going to keep looking – because I definitely need one of those to remember our first Christmas in our new home!)… and obviously, none of the “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments were appropriate… but then as I made my way to the checkout, my eyes were drawn to two little sock monkeys hanging in a separate display.




Something about these two simple little sock monkeys made me smile and I couldn’t help but pull them from the display. As I held them in my hand – a wave of emotions came over me. I held back the tears as I pictured Christmases to come where is will no longer be just James and I… but a whole little Tyler crew, with our own traditions and new memories made. I felt the tears pressing on the back of my eyes and quietly told myself to pull it together. For a moment I thought maybe I shouldn’t get them in case something should happen between now and Christmas… maybe I should wait to get any until they are here with us. (Why do I always jump to the “I don’t want to jinx this” mindset? Why am I always waiting for the other shoe to drop???) But then I felt two little kicks right behind my belly button and knew I had get them.

I wanted to have something to remember this beautiful season of waiting in our lives – celebrating this coming Christmas with these two sweet boys in my belly. Someday I want to decorate our tree with our boys and when I pull out these ornaments, I want to tell them the story of how much we hoped, prayed, and dreamed of having a family… and when that dream actually started to become a reality – how much we LOVED them – even when they were just teeny little guys still growing inside me… kicking away at each other (and my belly button). 🙂

I thought about all the times I would hang these ornaments in the years to come… and how it would transport me back to this beautiful time in our lives, filled with so much hope and anticipation. Maybe the boys will be 4 years old… chubby little fingers… eyes wide with wonder… helping me decorate the tree. Maybe they’ll be 19 years old and home from college for the holidays. Maybe they’ll be 35 years old and visiting us with a family of their own and they’ll tell their kids about how grandma bought these sock monkey ornaments when they were still just little babies in my belly. I saw a whole life in front of us that up until now seemed like such a far off dream. I saw a life that finally, finally (God willing) will become a reality for us. (Something I don’t often let myself think about…)

And I knew right there, with tears in my eyes in the middle of this strip mall Hallmark store, that these two little sock monkeys had to come home with me.

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!