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Our Holiday Traditions: Ornaments create a road map to the past

The Mangrobang family collects memories.


Leanne Mangrobang’s parents put a Christmas ornament in her stocking every year when she was growing up. And they still do even though now she’s 37 and has her own family.

“It’s so sweet that they still get them for me, and I look forward to it,” Leanne says. “Now it’s to the point that they can’t stop.”

Leanne saved all the ornaments and even the original boxes — one for every year since she was born. Her parents started with rocking horse ornaments from Hallmark (this was 1980, pre-Etsy) then continued with snowmen.

“I loved the tradition and knowing I could always have my own Christmas tree when I had my own place. So we decided to do the same for our son,” Leanne says.

Henry, 2½, is really into music, especially the guitar his preschool teacher plays. A remote control becomes a guitar. A stuffed animal becomes a guitar. So his ornament this year is … a guitar.

“I wanted it to symbolize what is going on in his life or our lives that year,” Leanne says.


Ornaments that are more than decorative.

For his first Christmas, Henry received a couple of ornaments. One was a handmade stuffed bear stitched with his name. Another was a hippo because he had a hippo-themed nursery. And a gummy bear ornament for all the gummy bears Leanne ate at the hospital after getting an epidural.

How many ornaments do they have? “Too many,” Leanne says.

The Mangrobangs, who live in north Ballard, store their collection in Rubbermaid tubs stacked in the hall closet. With an active toddler on the loose, the really fragile ornaments don’t go on the tree. But Leanne hangs the soft ornaments and the ones that play music toward the bottom for Henry.

Leanne’s parents started getting her husband, Werlindo, ornaments as well. They’ve chosen things that represent him. One year it was a nerdy snowman with a calculator (he’s an actuary). He’s also received a beer stein ornament, a Seahawk and a banjo. And Leanne got him a controller ornament because he likes video games.

“Once I see a cute ornament,” Leanne says, “I have to get that too.”


Silly or somber, elaborate or simple, every family creates their own unique ways of finding joy and warmth in the midst of winter. Our annual Seattle's Child tradition is to share your holiday traditions so we can celebrate and rejoice together that every family in our community is a one-of-a-kind creation forged from the past and building a brighter future for our kids.

Read about more of our family holiday traditions and holiday happenings here


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