The holidays are always a little bittersweet around my place since I don't have any grandparents left. Unfortunately, they all passed before my daughters were born. But every year when we put up the Christmas tree I get to dig through boxes and show my kids some of the decorations that my great-grandma made back when I was young.

That lady could sew!

She might not be around, but I have some amazing memories of my great-grandma in the form of things that she made by hand many years ago. She was a seamstress for a living, had a sewing machine as a centerpiece of her living room, and was always creating amazing works of art when it came to blankets and quilts. I have this blue and yellow blanket on my bed that she made, it's almost 30-years-old, and it's in as good of shape as the day she gave it to me. There had to have been some serious hours that went into making it!

Photo: Ryan Nelson
Photo: Ryan Nelson
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Her ornaments are still being used today

But one thing my great-grandma loved to make was Christmas decorations and ornaments. A lot of them were passed down to my mom and have since made their way to my sister's and my own holiday collections. I don't have as many ornaments as my sister does so I had her send me a picture of some of the ones that she's still putting on her tree. There are a few random pieces thrown in the mix, one of the angels that she loved to make, and a collection of nursery rhyme pieces like Jack jumping over the candlestick, Humpty Dumpty, Mary and her little lamb, and Little Jack Horner with his pie.

Photo: Ryan Nelson
Photo: Ryan Nelson
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My favorites were mice she made and would always have on her tree, you would squeeze the mouse's cheeks, and when the mouth opened there would be a Hershey's Kiss inside. That was always a score when you walked into grandma's house and could immediately start your visit with some chocolate.

This will always be my favorite!

Photo: Ryan Nelson
Photo: Ryan Nelson
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My grandma made stockings for us when we were young. They were the stockings that would be filled with goodies every Christmas. I had to eventually retire mine from active duty as age started to take its toll. But I would never get rid of it so it would just sit in the bin of Christmas decorations every year.  My wife surprised me a couple of years ago by getting it framed as a gift for me and now when we decorate I have it on display in its rightful place by the tree in all of its gumdrop, candy cane, and cupcake glory.

I'm thankful we were able to keep as much as we have

So yep, as I said, Christmas is a little bittersweet around our place. But every year I get to dig into some amazing memories that always bring a smile to my face!

Do you have any traditions or memory makers when the holidays roll around?

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