This year I decided to have a grown-up, matchy-matchy Christmas tree. No multi-color baubles or foam and popsicle stick reindeer for me! I bought a basketful of overpriced monochrome ornaments and pre-approved every one that the kids hung up. When Jonas and V-meister were done, there were ornament clusters hanging like overripe bananas from the tip of every bough and only the lower three tiers were covered. After they’d gone to bed, OCD fairy swooped in and re-arranged the low hanging fruit and voila! – I had my perfect tree. Not quite catalog worthy, but still very nice.
Even so, I couldn’t forsake the mismatched “heritage” ornaments sitting in shoe boxes on the kitchen counter with their thirty plus years of memories safely shut inside. The faded and tattered trinkets that, en masse, contribute to the double-edged joy and melancholy of Christmas. As much as I love taking each one out and examining it in turn, the process is bittersweet, reminding me of fleeting childhoods and loved ones long gone.
There are the faceless ceramic newlyweds my mother-in-law gave the P-Dawg and me for our first Christmas together:
The disfigured drummer boy my husband painted as a child:
My school picture, circa 1980:
The photo of my grandmother with two-year-old Jonas:
The bird that always hung on my paternal grandmother’s tree. We used to call her “Other Grandmother,” or “Kita Mo?ut?” because “Mo?ut?” was already taken. Can you imagine? It never occured to us to call her, “Mo?ut? Marija,” which would have been beautiful, and her actual name. I never used to like the bird, but now it speaks to me:
The V-Meister’s paper doll chains:
The retro skating Santa from my grandparents’ old house:
The book ornament that was my favorite as a child, with real stories inside:
And the pine cones decorated by Jonas and V-meister’s little hands:
We hung them all, and then some, on a miniature tree in the sunroom. Our own little Nostalgia Zone.
And the children rejoiced. As far as they’re concerned, this one is the REAL Christmas tree.
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