Sunday, December 5, 2010
Pick one ornament to write about? Really? As if there were not an entire treeful of hanging ornaments, and a houseful of decorations pulled out annually, each one with its own involved story? As if there were not boxes of Christmas decorations carefully catalogued and waiting for at my mother's old house, each with their own stories? As if I did not still miss ornaments I no longer have, such as the much-mourned "Dancing Rabbit Blow Horn?"
The truth is that I had one ornament in particular I was thinking of, a baby snuggled in a nutshell cradle, that was mine when I was a child and has hung on the tree since. But my 2.75 year old daughter has fallen in love with the "baby ornament" and takes it with her wherever she goes. It's now clutched in her hand as she sleeps downstairs, with the stand-up Santa my father gave me and the angel that is supposed to go on top of the tree arranged at the foot of her crib. My daughter, who replicates me in so many ways, has developed the passionate love for Christmas that runs deep in my family, and seeing the holiday through her eyes makes this bittersweet time so unbelievably, incredibly wonderful.
So instead I picked an ornament that is much more recent. Four years ago I spent the holiday season in my mother's hospital room, as she lay dying of colon cancer. It was our first married Christmas, the first living in the house together, the first of many things, but for my mother it was the last, and that trumped it all. Before everything went down I had signed up for a gift exchange in my online community, and one day a package arrived from my Secret Santa, full of incredibly thoughtful things I could use in the hospital room (lip balm, chocolate, a stuffed toy,etc.) — and this snowman, to remind me of the winter outside. My Santa that year has since moved on from that community, but Whitty, wherever you are, you knew that I needed that reminder that there was life outside.
My mother died on Christmas Day, her favorite holiday. Every year, when I clip this snowman on to the tree, I am reminded of that time, and of all that have given me the courage and caring to go on past it. I remember my mom, and her love of Christmas. I think of my husband, and his quirky collection of snowman ornaments that we've added this one too. And I smile at my daughter, who shouts "SNOWMAN!" as she unwraps it and gives it to me to put on the tree.
Please visit the other bloggers writing on this topic today. I'm excited to be part of the virtual world we've all created!