I don't remember having heirloom ornaments. The ones we had were made of glass and were fragile; they had to be handled with care. Some were more special than others. My parents put their favorite ones on the highest branches. We didn't string much popcorn, probably because we were eating it faster than we could string it.
The whole living room was a mess when the ornaments came out, boxes everywhere. We'd remember them from the year before, but still picked them up and studied each one, like it was the first time. Then we had to find just the right place on the tree.
I enjoyed going to our grandparent's house and looking at their ornaments. Some were really funny and different. They didn't just have round bulbs. Some were different shapes and made of different materials.
We moved from Chicago out to California, then back to Chicago and finally back to California for the last time. None of the ornaments survived. We bought newer ones and they became favorites. After I was married and had children of my own, a neighbor helped me make ornaments every year. We would have an ornament swap and we'd all have ornaments from each other.
Each year we bring out the boxes there is the same excitement and thrill of finding old favorites and adding newer ornaments on the tree. They were, and still are precious memories.