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Christmas ornaments
The Leg Lamp from the 1983 film “A Christmas Story” is probably one of the film industry’s most famous props. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Columns Hit the Road

Christmas ornaments make festive travel souvenirs

I stopped buying souvenirs from our travels many years ago, partly because I realized that we had enough stuff, and partly because the TSA and the airlines began restricting the number of carry-ons and/or charging mightily for checked luggage.

The current rules definitely discourage bringing aboard those giant stuffed animals, boxes of pineapples and other bulky souvenirs.

Now when I see something appealing or unique, I take a picture – so easy and cheap to do with digital photography.

I have made one exception, though: Christmas ornaments.

I now dedicate my souvenir hunting to mostly unbreakable tree ornaments that represent the places we’ve visited. Ideally, the trinket has the name of the destination on it and there is a place to write the year of the visit. I try not to buy second ornaments on repeat visits, but I confess that I’ve done this.

Buying Christmas ornaments is ideal because it satisfies the urge to purchase something, the ornaments are affordable and small, and there is a designated place at home to store them. When the holidays roll around, I unpack the ornaments and enjoy the memories.

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas ornaments – and happy holidays to all.

Christmas ornaments
St. Louis is one of my hometowns and we visit every few years. It wasn’t until 2018, though, that I realized that I had no ornament with the famous Arch, which represents the Gateway to the West. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Christmas ornaments
This tiny canoe brings back my 2010 trip to New York State’s Finger Lakes Region. Skaneateles is one of the area’s many leafy, historic towns with old-growth trees and beautifully-maintained, lakefront Victorian homes. Skaneateles was named for the nearby lake of the same name, and is an Iroquois term that means “long lake.” How to pronounce? Skinny-AT-les. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Christmas ornaments
This wooden lady dressed in traditional Czech clothing was purchased in Prague. Our family visited for a week in 2002, prior to traveling to Slovakia. There we met for the first time my husband’s cousins who had been separated from their American relatives for years because of the Iron Curtain. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Christmas ornaments
Purchased in 2018, this ornament reminds me that there is no apostrophe in “Devils.” Visiting the 876-foot-high igneous monolith had been on my bucket list for years and it did not disappoint. The tower is just as enthralling in person as it is in photos. Sorry, no close encounters. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Crab with Santa hat
A popular way of conveying Christmas is to put a Santa hat on animals of the region. Moose, otters, bears, reindeer, crabs – they all wear Santa hats on my tree. I carried this home from Myrtle Beach, S.C., in November 2007. The entire coast was celebrating the season. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Some ornaments are not really ornaments, like this fob purchased from the wife of the lighthouse keeper at Cape Horn at the tip of Chile. It was the only trinket available in this remote spot. Many people sail around Cape Horn but only a few make it to the top of the small, rugged island because the weather is usually fierce. We sneaked in and out between freezing rain, caustic winds and hail. Photo by Jerry Ondash
A Christmas Story
Who doesn’t love the 1983 film “A Christmas Story?” In 2019, we toured the Cleveland house that was Ralphie’s home. But the neighboring gift shop is where the fans really spend their money. Although only the exterior was used in the movie, the owner (a former San Diegan) recreated the interior to mirror the film’s sets. The Leg Lamp is probably one of the film industry’s most famous props.  Photo by Jerry Ondash

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