What's Your Favorite Holiday Heirloom?

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We’ve purchased very few holiday decorations over the years — thanks to extended families that love holiday décor, we’ve inherited quite a lot. Cheery ceramic elves from my husband’s childhood, the trove of ornaments we received for our November wedding, a stack of holiday books collected over the years and on and on. But there’s one heirloom that makes me happiest every year . . .

the Italian angel ornaments my grandmother gave me each Christmas throughout grade school. From then until now, they’ve always been the last thing to go on the tree, filling in small spaces and gaps between other ornaments. For me, pulling out this box of ornaments and unwrapping each angel from its tissue paper has long signaled the official start of the holidays. Now that my Nonna is gone, they take me back to all the holidays she and I spent making fabric ornaments as gifts, eating torrone by the box, and reading The Story of Holly and Ivy. I know for many of us, it's these family heirlooms that bring the most joy, whether they're gorgeous antiques or cheesy tchotchkes. So share — what's your favorite holiday heirloom?

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Kathleen is a freelance editor who lives in Chicago. She loves eclectic rooms, traveling with her family, and feeding anyone who steps foot in her house. She theoretically hates clutter, but can’t stop buying books and craft supplies.