A few days ago, I was putting ornaments on our tree. (Once adults, I had relinquished those belonging to each of our three children). Once finished, I stepped back, gazed at the tree and wondered why there were so few? Certain more were hidden in one of the many boxes stored in our garage for Christmas decorations, I headed there. Searching box after box like a mad woman, tossing them everywhere, I came up empty. Despondent, I went back into the house. My husband was engrossed in a football feed on YouTube and it took a fog horn to get his attention. No, he had no idea where they were located. Frustrated, I stared at the tree once more. I solved the dilemma. This year’s tree was new. It was taller and much fatter than our previous one, loaded with more lights. No wonder it looked as if I had fewer ornaments!
I have to say, if I’d lost certain ones, I would have been crushed. Ones like the three below.
Christmas 1987: My sister cross-stitched an ornament for my parents and one for me and each of my three siblings. It was a reminder of our weekend together for Christmas. Living a doable close distance to each other, we all gathered and celebrated at her family’s home in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Our children were young and emitted giggles and laughter the entire time. They spent the weekend writing a play about the Christmas story, performing it for the adults our last day together. Written in the eyes of children, it was a delight. We fixed an abundant Mexican meal for our dinner. We didn’t know then it would be the one and only time our entire family gathered for Christmas. My brother and family moved to Colorado, my oldest sister eventually to California, and my youngest sister and her family went back home near the farm and where our parents lived. My husband and I spent one year in Colorado and following, took jobs in Minnesota. We just weren’t able to coordinate the entire family with our children to celebrate together as we did 36 years ago.
Carmel otter: Minnesota was a shock, even colder than Nebraska. The first year there, during Halloween, we received 31 inches of snow that stayed on the ground through April. It was a common occurrence and we purchased wool coats, hats, and mittens. The cold was grueling, so my husband and I spent years annually going to Carmel, California for five days either in January or February. A credit card came in handy then, but we never regretted spending the money. We needed the reprieve. Every morning, we strolled the beach, the sound of crashing waves our companion. We looked at shells, felt the sand beneath our bare feet and shared our dreams. Some came true, some didn’t. We laughed as the otters followed us, swimming and playing. I’ve loved them ever since. I bought the ornament early on. I’m glad I did. Time speeds by and the otter takes me back to one of many times we loved being together.
Sheeba’s ornament: A close friend gave us a Christmas ornament following her death in November 2018. A German shepherd, she was almost twelve. Her spirit was gentle, her heart big and we miss her still, five years later. When she was five, she “blew” both knees and determined to not euthanize her, my husband searched until he located a small, independent store run by a mother and her daughter near the mountains. The mother invented and sewed harnesses out of a sturdy material that supported a dog’s back legs. Not knowing if it would help Sheeba, we drove there and had her measured and fitted for one. We took her home and for a long time, my husband walked her slowly – a few feet, half a block, two blocks and more until she could run and play again. That $200 halter gave us seven more years with her.