This Dec. 25 will mark my seventeenth Christmas.
My first was spent in Boston as a family of three. Now here we are, four of us, in Redwood City, putting up a spectacle of lights and adorning the fake (don’t tell anyone) tree as we pull out the ornaments from the same tissue paper in the carefully stored boxes, experiencing the moments yet again in another year.
Baby’s First Christmas 1996. It’s a rocking horse with just those simple words. This year we decorated the tree on a weekday. I was up in my room finishing up my homework for half of the time, but my brother ensured that I was the only one who got to put this ornament on the tree.
The Keyboard. It’s just plastic and a model of the instrument I used to play. I remember when I was 5 and our neighbor across the street asked if I was interesting in taking lessons. She was sweet and kind and I used to marvel at the way her fingers glided over the keys as she played the pieces that I would soon learn. She left for college a few years later, and I started to distance myself from the piano. I became more interested in sports and acting than I was at sitting down and reading music. My parents said I would regret quitting taking lessons. Boy, were they right.
The Dog Bone. It’s white and has the face of a golden retriever painted on it with the name of our first family dog in red cursive writing. This is our second year having to put it up without having his nose sniff it first. Just because he isn’t here to secretly beg at the table when my mom isn’t looking or come and put his head on my lap, blocking the view of my homework, doesn’t mean that I still don’t think about him every day.
The Gingerbread frame made of foam. When I was in kindergarten, our teachers would have us make ornaments for our parents as presents. One year we made frames resembling a gingerbread house, and we brought pictures to put in them. Between candy canes and sparkly glitter lies a simple photo of my brother and I. When I was in that moment, making that ornament, I remember wanting to do my absolute best on it. I’ve never been super creative and artsy, per se. I always start out with a really great idea in my head, but then get lazy and sort of rush to the finish line. Crayon goes out of the lines, things look messy, and then I get frustrated. But it’s okay. I know now that my parents loved whatever I made simply because I was the one that made it.
The Angel. She tops the tree every year, not quite on completely straight; a little off-kilter, one might say. This year my brother put it on, not needing a ladder. He just reached up and set her on the top branch. He’s gotten so tall as time has passed. People sometimes think that he is the older one now. I don’t really mind that much.
Our tree isn’t fancy. New ornaments and additions are added each and every year. Every decorating time comes with a few dropped ornaments, but they make space for the new ones - the sparkly Stanford Football, the Christmas card with the ribbon we received in the mail.
Once Christmas is over, we package them all up again and wait for another year of holiday music and sugar cookies.
Christmas time is special. Holidays are special. Come to think of it, every single day is special because every single day we make memories, memories that will last us our whole lifetime.
Traditions, memories and ornaments. It’s just that simple.
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