Christmas, despite its over-commercialization, has always been my favorite holiday. My mother went out of her way to make it special. There were always many small, but thoughtfully chosen and individually wrapped gifts under our Christmas tree. Mom couldn’t bear to see trees die needlessly for holiday decoration; therefore we always had an artificial tree which could be carefully stowed away each January and reused the following December. And she filled every inch of the house with old, often crumbling, yet always special ornaments and decorations handed down from her mother.
When I was about 14, my new stepfather brought in small trees for me and his daughter, my new sister, to put up in our rooms. This was a huge extravagance, but a wise ploy on his part. He could have written a book about how to endear oneself to a step-child.
I have put up a Christmas tree every single year since then, even the occasional years when I would be out of town during the holiday. Like my mother, if left up to me, I use (and reuse) an artificial tree. And I put old and often crumbling ornaments on the tree and around the house. These items remain special because they see so little daylight. Warm memories spring up as I free them from their layers of tissue paper. Nostalgic thoughts of people who’ve been part of my life—some of whom are no longer present—hover. Putting Christmas away always feels just a tad sad, like watching a kaleidoscope of leaves drift to the ground, leaving trees to face winter starkly naked.
Among my treasures is a collection of ornaments that has outgrown its storage box several times. One of my friends is both craftily handy and artistically talented. Each of her gifts through the years is adorned with a hand-crafted ornament. We’ve exchanged many gifts. Placing these ornaments on the tree is like looking through a stack of photo albums. Her creativity has marked our passage of time and our friendship. It also marks her artistic journey through many styles and creative pursuits through the years.
I gaze at the ornament that proudly commemorates 1980. It is not the oldest of the collection, but oh my, that was so long ago. Cris and I were both so young. And neither of us was aware of just how young we were or how long and deep our friendship would grow.
I hope you all have a love-filled and stress-free holiday filled with pleasant old memories and perhaps making new memories to savor in future years.