The lights were a struggle. Lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off. Lights on. Crap! Still not right. I give up. They will have to be that way – bright and beautiful near the bottom half, and a little dim up.
Next, a trip to the barn to get the ornaments. Two years ago, we downsized to a smaller tree. It sits on a table, making it appear eight feet tall. It is difficult to decide what decorations to use after decades of using a seven and a half foot tall tree.
Ready, finally. There are customs to adhere to, you know. There must be Christmas carols playing. That is what we did when I was a child. The tradition continued with my children. Now, although the kids are all grown and I decorate solo, I still need the ritual.
Opening the familiar boxes, I no longer feel alone. There are the little red stockings, one for each child and just the right size for candy or a small gift. Two little glass Santa faces made from a kit, one with the name of a child, one without. The second child wasn’tborn before that particular Christmas, but arrived a few days after. Many kits were assembled at my dad and stepmother’s house when all of us were together. Those ornaments have graced my tree in years past. The memories, like the shining sequins, still glimmer in the light.
A blue trumpet. At one time it would toot when you blew into it, but no longer. It was a favorite of my older brother. He was taken from us at the age of seventeen and is forever young in my mind, instead of the sixty-six year old he would be today. And a yellow paper mache bird, slightly discolored but loved just as much.
There are glass balls still housed in the old Kresge box that held them in the store and still displaying the $1.17 price for the entire box of six ornaments. And the Sears, Roebuck & Co. box that sold for $.59 for all twelve. We can’t overlook the twelve-count box of glass ornaments with the sticker price of $.05 from McCrory’s. These were my mother’s, and were part of my chosen inheritance, as was the blown glass angel from Germany, once belonging to my grandmother. But the best are yet to come. There are clothespin reindeer, paper plates with pictures of my son dressed as Santa, ornaments made coffee scoops, flashcubes wrapped in green felt and red and white yarn, drinking straw ornaments, milk cartons and pipe cleaners creations. These were treasures of my children’s creation, some in preschool, some in school, and some – just because.
You might think this tradition makes me melancholy, but it doesn’t. Everyone is here. Oh, not in a physical sense, but in my mind. As I decorate the tree, my parents, my brothers, and my boys are near. I hear their laughter; I see their smiles and the wonder in their eyes. They are belting out Jingle Bells and softly singing Silent Night. And my heart embraces them.