Soon it will be time to unpack the chewed-up cat and hang her on our Christmas tree. She's ugly, but she always makes me smile. That's because she brings back so many memories -- of my life as a newlywed and of two long-deceased pets.


The little cat started out 27 years ago as a generic wood cut-out ornament, with a gilt string threaded through a hole in her head. She was intended to be painted, and I did just that, buying gray and peach-colored paint to carefully replicate the markings of the tortoise-shell kitten that a bridesmaid had recently given us as a wedding gift.

The gift was not entirely welcome. We already had a dog, and we considered ourselves "dog people" not "cat people." Face was a strange and not very lovable cat, with a feral streak. Our mutt, Shiloh, who had been with my husband for eight years, took an immediate dislike to the interloper.

But Face was ours, part of our newly formed family, and I presented the homemade ornament in her likeness to my husband on our first Christmas Eve together as a married couple.

Shiloh wasted no time in expressing her disdain, pulling the ornament off the tree and gnawing on it, leaving toothmarks all over Face's striped face.

Face and Shiloh are both long gone, but Face, the ornament, still graces our tree every year. When I look at her, I always get a flashback to 1985. I can still that crazy cat, our disgusted dog and the shabby duplex we all shared that Christmas.

We have prettier ornaments, but the most precious ones to me are the oddball ones, like Face, that bring back a flood of memories.

Most of us have a holiday decoration (or a few) like that. What quirky treasures do you cherish? We'd like to hear about them. Whatever you celebrate -- Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else  -- we're interested in the trinkets or trimmings that are part of your holiday ritual.    

Your decoration doesn't have to be fancy or expensive or beautiful. We're looking for holiday heirlooms with a story behind them.

So share the story of your favorite ornament, mantel display or other seasonal decoration and what makes it special to you. Send a few sentences and a digital photo to: Or mail a snapshot and a brief description to: Kim Palmer, Star Tribune Newsroom, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. We'll feature some of the most interesting tales in an upcoming story. But don't wait too long: We'll choose our favorites on Dec. 7.