I love to get the house ready for Christmas. But for me, it isn’t about the end result–it’s about the process.

Every box of decorations that I open is a time capsule of my life. As I slowly and carefully peel back the layers of tissue paper and newspaper of each item, I am greeted with a sweet memory of Christmas’ past.

The small church given manger scene from my childhood that has somehow survived all these years; the ornament Chris gave me the year before we were engaged, the many, many, many ornaments, cards and wall hangings my children made in preschool and kindergarten; the manger scene that belonged to grandparents, the angel ornaments that I collected year after year, one at a time; the kitchen items that were part of my family before I was; the crown for the top of the tree that took many careful hours for my mom to make.

I think about the traditions that were kept through the years. There were many years I would groan at the bringing out of the Advent wreath and the weekly out loud reading that came with it. But now I am so thankful that was instilled in my life. I remember the Barbie clothes that were sewn to perfection and the special homemade dress that was my Christmas Eve present to wear to church that night. This leads me to remember late night church services for Christmas Eve and how beautiful all the candles were. Taffy pulls, cookie baking, the fresh Christmas tree, a Whitman’s Sampler for my mom, secret Christmas reconnaissance missions of my brother and sister, and strings of bells around our bedroom door knobs to avert anyone who thought Christmas needed to start too early.

All of these memories and more are what decorating the house means to me. Merchants and social media try to have us believe that bigger is better, and everything must be done to perfection. I say otherwise. While I may not have a Pinterest-worthy style, I would choose the style of memories by far to be the best.