Each year I spew Christmas all over the house. My mother used to, her mother did, and now it’s my turn. I suppose it’s part habit, part pressure, part joy.
It’s an annual phenomenon, we box and forget our holiday bling for eleven months, along with faded holiday cards, papier-mâché Santas, and sprigs of fake fir that shed like an astroturf cat. But when December hits, it’s inevitable: it’s time to excavate Christmas.
I save the ornaments for last. And they’re always surprising…the friends they call forth, the faraway trips, the memories they tickle. A wreathe from coconut dyed green then shellacked into a haloed frame of my youngest, Z., from kindergarten. His cherub face. His broken arm in a sling. (I wonder what our tree would look like had we faithfully made picture ornaments every year? We haven’t; I wish we had.)
Each year a few ornaments require surgery: angel wings are super glued, Rudolph’s nose re-stitched, a heart once misplaced returns home. I look for the lime green velvet star I bought on one of my trips to Westminster Abbey, London. I can’t find it. I fret then move onto the next idea, moment, ornament.
Some are lost, some are broken, all are lovely.
This year we’re celebrating Christmas for the forth year in a row in a different home. And yet I’m ready to move again. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually, to a new sphere. Expectant, like a field before falling snow.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”
I decorate the tree alone.
How dimly I realized how quickly it would go. I am hungry for small children yet hurried to let go. Torn. My children don’t crowd around my knees anymore, jostling to hang ornaments. There are no requests for gingerbread houses. We are in complete-teen-mode. I move quickly now, graceless, pensive, exhausted.
Once done, I light the tree. In passing, my oldest son says, “It’s pretty, mom.” Gives me a half-hug, moves on.
“The way the year/ throws birds, the flocks of migrating birds/ hurled over the ocean from an old to a new/ warmth -“
There will always be warmth here, with us. Migrations. Moments. Ornaments. Realizations both dim and surgical. And there will be children, too, in varying states and forms. New friends and some distant day spouses and grandchildren and on. But for now we find ourselves, again, this season, moving from an old to a new world.