Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Ornamental My Dear Watson

If you look at a family's Christmas tree, you can see clues about them. You see a lot of what they want to present to the world at any rate. My tree, for instance, is peppered with a lot of black and gold, dog oriented ornaments, a lot of Star Wars themed baubles, and a few Cowboy ornaments just to pretend we're giving equal time to the man of the house. Like me and my life, my tree is a loud, random collection of colorful stuff.

That was not my initial intent. Originally I thought I would have a tree that was very formal and built around solid colors. I started out not wanting the cornucopia of ornaments I have now, and built a tree around white lights and two colors of glass ornaments. The white lights survive, but, I realized today as I dressed our tree, not a single ornament from that first tree is still around. I'm okay with that actually. The random collection that adorns our tree is really more indicative of our lives than the sterile, formal tree I once envisioned.

Like many trees dotted throughout the world, my tree sports a history of our family, dating back to our wedding. We were married at Christmas 25-years ago, and some of the ornaments that Greg's mom used on the little tree that was at our reception now adorns our tree. From that point forward, most of what hangs there now are actually gifts over the years. Every year, Mother gave the girls and myself each an ornament. I long ago lost track of which ornament was which, and that used to worry me, thinking at some point I would need to split them up to allow the girls' a start on their own trees. With a heavy heart I realize now that it no longer matters. Marissa can have what she wants, if she wants any of it. As I hung each one today, however, what I could still tell you was who gave it to us and roughly when it came into the fold. The ones that do not really connect to us in any real way are generally from my mother. She was fond of Hallmark ornaments. I have a Garfield ornament, a few Currier and Ives inspired ones and a few Peanuts ornaments. She also provided us with lots of teddy bears. Not that I don't like any of those things, mind you, but I probably would not have picked them for myself. Not to worry. My friends have supplied me with the Steelers this and Steelers that, Darth Vaders and starships that dominant these days. My husband even lent a hand and added Han Solo to the mix. They are the harbingers of better times. Of times when my children were young and starry eyed about the holiday. Before it became a time that they dreaded because of all the food triggers and stressful family dynamics.

And that's where the story a tree can tell you stops. As I glance over at it now, it sits there all dressed up in its wild array of colors, trying to send a cheerful, hopeful message to the world about the family who lives in this house. But it doesn't say anything about the hole in our hearts, or the pain that all of us experienced throughout the years that led to this, the most painful year of all. Someone new who walks in now would think we're just a family of sports fans with a sci-fi nerd in the mix. Unfortunately, we are that, but we are more than that as well. Would that we were not.

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