I love Christmas. I love the familiar rituals that I’ve followed for forty plus years. Around the 10th of December, Doug gets the big extension ladder out and props it up against the opening to the attic. One by one, he hands me the worn boxes marked “Christmas” out of the attic with their CDs, ornaments, knickknacks, and the crèche. Our live Christmas tree always comes from Glacier Gardens, but the wreath with the big red bow is plumped up with boughs from a convenient tree behind our house.
We are fortunate that our son and his family live in Juneau, but our daughter comes up every year from Seattle. She was born three days before Christmas so the first priority is her birthday celebration. When she was a child, every Christmas card I wrote had a not too subtle reminder for relatives: “Amy is looking forward to her birthday!”
As I decorate the tree to Celine Dion’s “These are Special Times”, almost every ornament brings up a memory. In 1971, we were stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and were lucky to get housing in a former CIA complex. Aside from the lanai, our place was pretty bare. We weren’t going to furnish a place that spacious knowing it was a “one-off”, but our home had 10 foot ceilings so when a freighter came in with fresh Canadian trees, we bought a 9 footer. I can’t remember how much it cost, but Doug knew that it was important to me to have a “real” Christmas tree so we tied it to the top of the yellow VW bug and took it home. Our next trip was to K-Mart to buy decorations. That’s where the plastic birdcages and the bells came in. We bought a couple of boxes of them, but they barely covered the tree. Tinsel took care of the rest of it. Those artifacts are dangling from our Christmas tree 42 years later.
Other ornaments are from our tour in Kodiak, a Christmas vacation in Hawaii, our local Fred Meyer, and some have just always been with us. I don’t remember where we picked them up, but I do know they span our 43 year marriage. Continuity, traditions, and rituals are all wrapped up in a bow for Christmas.