Every year when it comes time to put up our Christmas tree, I start lamenting that our tree is always such a disorganized hodge podge: the white lights that were in my husband's dorm room, random colored lights that we picked up from heaven-knows-where, hand-me-down ornaments that hung on my childhood Christmas trees, and the cheap blue star we bought when we were engaged - over 10 years ago.
And I wax lyrical about how someday we will have two trees, and the second tree with be decorated with color-coordinated, Martha Stewart perfection (WARNING: do not look at these trees unless you are totally secure with your own tree).
This year, these feelings lingered longer than usual. I had to improvise with the lights, since one of our colored strands decided to retire. So I was pretty sulky by the time I got to the ornaments. They went up one by one (I have a whole philosophy of which ornaments go with which kind of hook, but if I shared that here, I'd sound really OCD, so I will refrain).
About one-third of the way in, a realization hit me: this tree is my biography!
The handmade snowflake by my grandmother (who passed away before I was born):
The "filler ornaments" that my parents bought early in their marriage (early 1970's):
The Precious Moments ballerina my parents gave me the first year I took ballet lessons (I was seven):
The cross-stitch stocking I made my husband for our second Christmas:
Just as I felt a warm happiness rise as I walked through this three dimensional photo album, I realized with a sudden jolt of sadness, that every ornament on our tree was from my childhood, my friends, my family. Our tree wasn't the the dual biography of a couple that I felt it should be.
Even the more recent additions were a continuation of the same theme.
There was the goldfinch that my mom gave my husband when he took up bird watching:
The handmade "pine cone" ornament my sister made for us the year she was between jobs and money was tight:
And the olive wood nativity my parents gave to the Moose for his second Christmas:
I can't tell you how much this bothers me (and, yes, it also tugs at my heart that it took me so long to notice - this is our 10th Christmas as a married couple). I managed to corner my mother-in-law yesterday at the church holiday festival we were at (in between peeling the Moose off a poor, unsuspecting donkey in the live Nativity and going down the inflatable slide with the Moose for the half-dozenth time). She seemed really nonplussed by my revelation. At first she said that they must have some somewhere. Then she said she wasn't sure what they did have - they just didn't get that into ornaments in their family.
But I'm not ready to let it go yet. I'll give her a few days to marinate and then ask again - there has got to be some ornaments somewhere. A hideous clay figure he made in elementary school. A First Christmas ornament. Right?
To be continued . . .