Rejoice in the Ride

Amid the tons of Christmas totes was a new wine glass that said “Santa’s Little Helper.” Taking this as an omen, I filled it part of the way with sweet cheap wine. Vintage 2018. I only partake in the best! The fruity smell invited me to take a seat, a hint I shouldn’t listen to. But before I could relax, I had to make some order so that there is a clear fire lane through my home before bedtime.

Decorating is exhausting work. I am not talking about moving that clumsy ladder among the toys and boxes. Or moving heavy furniture to hang the garland. Or even going up and down that ladder a few dozen time until I feel I must resemble a yo-yo. What I find the most exhausting is the emotional rollercoaster of emotions upon opening every bin! Memories seem to float up at me as I open each one, and they take their toll.

My Christmas ornaments evoke special memories of times of those still with me, but the ones that really wear on me are the ones that bring back memories of those that are gone. Those I miss every day. There is a small blue Volkswagen created by me in a ceramics class on the Fort Knox military post. It is a reminder of a first brand new car. A piece of past Christmases from a marriage that started too young. Most of the year it floats around with the tape, scissors, and batteries of the junk drawer. I can never seem to pass it on or discard it. In that little car is bound up happy memories. Hard times are forgotten, replaced with memories of blue eyed blond children and the excitement of Santa’s visit the night before.

A glass bell, the only survivor of four, waits in my jewelry case to be placed upon the pine branches. The sweet man that had purchased it never knew the wonder of the holidays before he came into my life. His childhood was what nightmares are made of. For several reasons that bell reminds me that some joy was brought into his life among his many struggles. I can only hope life went on to bring him more peace and joy during this special time.

The last gift from my father came in a tiny box, with even a tinier bow. I can’t tell you what was in that box, but his handwriting still adorns it. I always smile as I put in among the other ornaments on my tree. I usually place it near the little stocking cross-stitched by my mother. It has become frayed over the years, but that is hard to see through my tear filled eyes. A shell with a beautiful pearl given to me by a dear friend the first Christmas my mom was gone. That year the lights on the tree never seemed as bright. Our Christmas light was gone. As the years pass, the light returns, as the love of the holiday and family she gave us just couldn’t stay dim forever.

Nine children have sat around my tree over the years awaiting their gifts. Piles of paper and bows have been scattered over and over. They have grown, but on very special days, little ones have returned again. Ornaments have come and gone. Clothespin soldiers, snipped scraps of white paper made into snowflakes, paperclips for felt skates all have been scattered through its branches.

Among the old treasured ornaments, now new ornaments join the fray. Most are beautiful reminders of my summer garden. Evacuated bird nests snuggle among the dried hydrangea blooms. My tree and its many fragile ornaments tell the story of my life. Of happiness and worry. Of joy and sorrow. Of comings and goings. It is a story of the contradictions of life. But each year, even though tears may at times run down my cheeks and the many emotions wear on me, I also find deep comfort and often a smile on my lips. This is my life and I will rejoice in the ride. May the little things around you bring you happy memories to hold closely in your heart this holiday season!

Originally published in Bottom Line News & Views, December 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.*