Photography by William Colgin //
For many people, the Christmas season is the perfect opportunity to spend time with family, cooking, caroling and decorating. Jennifer Mace and her family begin celebrating immediately following Thanksgiving and continue well into the new year.
“Christmas has always been a big holiday,” Mace says. “We try to get our families together.” The family decorates two Christmas trees each year, and one has ornaments that come mostly from family trips and vacations or are indicative of a particular family member’s interest. Ornaments featuring a soccer player and a swimmer represent the interests of Mace’s children. The occupation of Jennifer (nurse) and her husband, Paul (physician), also are represented on the tree. They collect ornaments while on trips to Washington, D.C., New York or family ski trips.
Mace proudly shows off an Ole Miss ornament, selected for her daughter, who is a fan of The University of Mississippi.
The second tree features homemade ornaments created by their three children over the years. Jennifer Mace says that it usually takes a couple of nights to finish decorating the tree because they spend so much time reminiscing about trips and looking at the ornaments. Each ornament represents a story in the family’s history, and often the telling of each story triggers another and another.
Her favorite Christmas tradition is setting up a German wooden Nativity scene, that she and her husband have had the longest. They received the first pieces of the scene from her mother and aunt at their engagement party. She says her relatives had collected these pieces for years and decided to give her the start to her own collection.
The Maces have been married for 21 years, and they have traveled to a special shop in New Orleans almost every year to buy a piece to add to their collection. She fondly remembers the angel that was their oldest daughter’s first piece in the collection and the two peasant children that were the first pieces picked out by her younger two children. After 21 years of collecting, the set includes all of the pieces of the traditional Nativity scene —Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, the wise men, shepherds, and angels. But it also includes a plethora of animals and other figures that add to the depth of the scene. Mace proudly displays the set in the entrance to her home.
Another tradition is to participate in Gulfport’s Christmas on the Bayou. This is another opportunity to enjoy family and friends.
She says when she thinks of Christmas, family is what comes to mind.