Thursday, December 22, 2011

Old Ornaments Holding Memories

From the '60s.-the era of tiny
grabbing hands
Decorated by a youngster in
bed with mono.
Hand-painted Santa ornaments according
to each family member's hobby

     What would have been my best Christmas ever? I remember one, with a little boy getting his first puppy and a teenaged daughter getting a sewing machine. Then there were the ones with the tricycles, the new clothes, the dolls...... And I remember the year the deed to the site of our new home-to-be was on the tree.
     But nothing–––nothing–––can rival the excitement and anticipation of a Depression Age five-year-old when that fragrant cedar tree is set up and decorated. That is what I remember most.                                                          

    The tree was set up, supported in a bucket filled with rocks and the ornaments and ropes of tinsel were hung. The living room had huge honeycomb appearing tissue bell hung here and there and red wreaths hung in the two windows and on the front door. They weren’t big or elaborately festooned with holly and cones – they were only about seven inches in dia. and a faded red. Each had a tiny crushed wisp of greenery and a few bedraggled red berries.

     The tinsel was crushed, the rough paper ropes were faded and so were some of the ornaments.  No matter. It was Christmas. The decorations said so.
      The tree stood at the end of the room opposite the old wood-burning heater. That is where I spent hours gazing into the red globes that distorted my image; admiring the little ornaments with deep recesses that sparkled like jewels. I gazed at those ornaments until I was numb with cold and then stood by the heater until I was slmost singed. Then back to the tree.

     The color, the magic, the dreams that that little cedar tree held in its branches! Santa Claus would visit and he would leave gifts. There would be wonderful new things; things I could play with ---a doll, maybe one with sleepy eyes and long hair.

     So my memory is of the excitement of anticipation; of the magic of color and glitter in a world that had very little to offer in that regard; it was the promise of something special and the mystery of that wonderful person who gave to little children---Santa Claus.

       In later years I learned that my mother had one dollar, or less, to spend on my gifts and she supplemented that with wonderful doll clothes. My dad, probably remembering his sisters’ enjoyment of their Christmas dolls, always picked out the doll that stood under the tree.

     Looking back on those lean years, I can imagine the difficulty of saving enough nickels and dimes to help Santa retain his status.

       So little brought (not bought) so much.

In special memory of