Last year we didn’t have a Christmas tree. I was really busy, time got away, and I just didn’t feel the spirit. It was OK, I told myself.
But honestly, I missed it. I missed having the bright lights during this darkest season. And I knew there was a part of myself I was ignoring. The truth is, that like most holidays once you’ve reached a certain age, Christmas is bittersweet. Lots of fond memories, and some sad ones, too.
So this year, Peter put the lights on, and I starting unwrapping the ornaments. There are no round bulbs on my tree. Over the years I have collected an odd assortment of ornaments on various themes. Most of them have a memory attached.
The oldest are some eggs covered in felt and glitter with a vignette inside. These are from my teenage years, and are what I have left from my family trees. Then there are the Hindu deities: Ganesh, Sarasvati, Krishna, and some other unidentified God, that I brought back from one of my trips to India. I have a rather battered portrait of Jesus I got at some yoga party, which I absolutely love, and always figures prominently on the tree.
Then there are those silly personalized ones my mom got at one of those kiosks at the mall in 2004 (I know that because they say so). The one with my name has a bear sitting in lotus, dressed in leotard, with a water bottle and boom box (?). Weird. Peter’s has a boy holding a bass guitar. There is an odd assortment of others I inherited from my mom and ones we bought together: enamelware from a factory tour we took in China and the gold spray painted rigatoni being holding a violin we got at a craft show. There’s the tabby cat I bought the year our Franz cat died. Then there’s an assortment that various friends have given me over the years.
It’s a kitschy blend, and I love it.
These ornaments bring to life the many memories of Christmas past, of people and pets that are long gone, which evokes a sweet ache in my heart. At first it feels just plain sad. So many I have lost, so much time already gone. This feeling could overwhelm me and spin into melancholy, but instead I hold it in my heart and follow the feeling inside to its root…. I find love. Love, and a happiness in having the memories of these holidays past, even the challenging ones. Remembering the love I shared with those that have passed makes me committed to making time to being with my family, which is not only those I’m connected to at birth, but those with whom I walk the path.
In these darkest days, may we connect to the light and the love, and each other.