The Christmas Walnut

"Old Fashioned Christmas Tree"

“Old Fashioned Christmas Tree” (Photo credit: CARDS 4 NID Catherine.Clarke)

I remember it like it was yesterday. Every year at Christmas, from the time I was about nine years old, I dove into the depths of the carefully wrapped Christmas decorations to find the fragile walnut that said Christmas to me. Proudly, I would hang it on the tree near the top, front and centre.

Miniscule, the brass coloured shell holds great tradition. It was on every one of my childhood Christmas trees; it was on all the Christmas trees my mother put up when I left home; and today it is on my Christmas tree. It is the one thing I made sure I got from all of my parents’ Christmas treasures.

I was surprised and relieved when I found that none of my siblings had imbued this tiny prize that I so coveted with the same sentiments I had.

I wish that I could remember where the gilded walnut came from, but I like to think that before I made it on the scene, it was one of the first decorations my parents put on their first tree when they were married in 1944. Their first Christmas tree was cut down by my Grandpa Geauvreau specifically for my eighteen year old mom, who was pregnant with my oldest brother. My parents lived with my father’s parents when they were first married, and Grandpa made sure my mom had a Christmas tree.  Strangely it was not a tradition my grandparents followed—but grandpa knew it was important to his son’s barely out of childhood wife. My mother told the story fondly many, many times and it is a part of our family lore.

English: Walnuts

English: Walnuts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was crushed when a couple of years ago my beautiful but delicate walnut hit the floor. It broke, but luckily not into tiny pieces, and most of it is still intact. Now when I hang it front and centre near the top of the tree, I position it so the undamaged side faces out. The tradition has not been broken, just adjusted a little—something all traditions have to endure.

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37 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Lovely. just reinforces what we all know… it is the simplest pleasures that give us the most joy.

  2. I just love traditions…something we do or put up every Christmas..Diane

  3. I wish everyone could have that one memory like you do. It wouldn’t be Christmas for you without your walnut I’m glad it survived it’s fall.

    • me too–I wish everyone could have that one memory too–but we can hold memories in our hearts if not our hands

      • Very true. Having lost all my ornaments at one time I worried about my children’s expectations for that upcoming holiday, but it turned out fine, it was about the people and food for them.

      • that is good to hear–I wondered as I remembered that you lost so many things

  4. Do you have a photo of the walnut? That way, if it ever became damaged beyond repair, you could cut around the photo of it, laminate it, and hang that from your tree, it wouldn’t be the same, but it would be the memory of it preserved.

    • hey, you are always thinking–I like that Vanessa–thank you (are you ready for your number at the party? Looking forward to it.)

      • Yes indeed! We recorded it last night and uploaded it to YouTube – I have it on private link at the moment so that nobody can accidentally see it before the party! Then I can link to it in my comment. If you want a sneak preview (as it’s your party ‘n all!), email me at nessajane(at) and I’ll send you the link. I hope I haven’t built it up too much, we’re not professional singers or anything, we’re just larking about really!

      • I do want a preview but my email refuses to send to you–why don’t you email me at and we will see if we can do it that way–thanks so much for the offer

      • Ok, I’ve emailed it to you, hopefully you’ve received it!

  5. I so remember that walnut…I went out and bought one several years ago very similar to the original. That is what a Christmas tree embodies…all the wonderful memories, no matter if a little bruised or battered.

  6. I have one ornament that my grandma bought me when I was really little, and it’s been on every tree I can remember. This year because of the move we’re not putting up a tree, and I’m a little sad about that.

    • but it is in your memory so that is just as precious–and next year will be even better!

  7. The walnut may have fallen & may not be quite the same – but – the lovely story & cherished memory is forever. A nice Christmas treasure.

  8. Sweet, sweet blog. Happy Holidays!

  9. I remember special ones too. Long ago gone now.

  10. This reminds me of all the childhood ornaments I made in school which we still keep and hang up every Christmas. As you said, some of them have gotten a little damaged but with some minor adjustments, they still hold up fine. Lovely post that imbues the essential spirit of the holiday. 🙂

  11. Lovely post. I still have a few of the decorations from my childhood. 🙂

  12. That is a lovely tradition, and I am glad that you treasured it.

    Adieu, scribbler

  13. How special! DH and I have a few ornaments that are treasures – but only go back a decade or so – mostly in relation to our grand-daughters. Hopefully they will appreciate them too.

    • I must say that when I was younger I did not appreciate my treasures–now I do and have embued it in my kids

  14. This is such a beautiful story and tender tribute to your paternal grandfather. How special a man he was to have known how important traditions would be to your mom,.
    To begin her own family traditions as a new wife and mom to be…
    I loved this story so much ~

    • thank you for recognizing my grandpa and his role–you are the first to see that–I always loved that about him–he was a wonderful grandfather

      • I have a real fondness for men who are sensitive to women.
        Those are in my mind real men.
        Thank you again Lou I think this my favorite Christmas personal story i have read ~

      • what a wonderful thing to say–and I so agree with you about real men

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