In the early morning on Wednesday, I was the only one awake in my house. I’d been tossing and turning since three AM and I finally gave in to the fact that sleep was not in the cards for me, so I got up and got my day going.
As I sat in the glow of the Christmas tree and my favorite evergreen scented candle, I quietly reflected, feeling melancholy. Family members are ill and I was sad and concerned and praying.
But I sat there in my spot (oh how very Sheldon of me), and because I have my own spot, when I decorate the tree I attempt to put most of my favorite ornaments within sight, so I can easily find joy and comfort when I gaze upon them.
And that is exactly what was provided to me. Amid my sadness, as I gazed over, I saw the tapestry of my life.
There’s the blue baby bootie gifted to me by my parents when Luke was born. Oh my Lukie.
Ariel hangs among the evergreen reminding me of the time I interpreted The Little Mermaid at the Paper Mill Playhouse. It had always been a dream of mine to be the voice of a Disney character and in a way, my mission was accomplished, alongside dear and accomplished colleagues.
One of my besties, Carrie, is well represented here. The Rent ornament she gave me hangs proudly, as well as the leaping dolphin. Thoughts of her bring me peace and joy like no other. We lived in the city together and every year at Christmas, we would scour Broadway or Amsterdam looking for the perfect tree. We usually found it on 96th and Broadway, and we would literally, no joke folks, carry the tree home with me at the front and Carolyn at the back, skipping and singing “Oh Christmas Tree,” as exuberantly as we could. This always makes me smile.
There is the ornament Paul gave me the year I completed the New York City Marathon, and he even wrote my bib number on it. How thoughtful is that?
Karlie is well represented and one of my favorites is Minnie Mouse. There was a time she wouldn’t leave the house if she wasn’t in her Minnie Mouse costume. Mind you, the thing barely fit her during this phase, but there she was, proudly strutting her polka dots. Sigh.
Donna and Carl are represented with the wedding teddy bears, the favors from their big day. We lost Carl on 911 and it’s really bittersweet to sit here and think back on the amazing years we all shared together. But I do, because despite the pain there is still so much joy. Ah, the Monday Night Football shindigs, cousin nights, bowling gatherings, Christmas sing-a-longs…pure joy.
Grandma hangs on a branch. Joe and I had an ornament when we were little, and it looked just like our grandma. Every year we would argue about who got to hang grandma until we finally solved the dilemma and let my brother’s best friend hang her, ending our quarrels. As adults with our own trees, my mom bought us both “grandmas” of our own. I chuckle when I remember this and yes, I do look forward to hanging her every year.
Old School Strawberry Shortcake reminds me of my youth, especially one of my other besties, Tara. In fourth grade she had a Strawberry Shortcake themed party that is still etched in my memories. Though she live in Florida now, I am proud and happy to say that we are still close friends across the years and the miles.
There’s the Santa we bought at Fortunoff, just before they closed down. Every year we would go with my parents and brother’s family at the start of the holiday season, looking at the trains, trees, and Christmas villages. It made my heart sing. Visiting the Christmas museum in Pennsylvania replaced this tradition until that too, closed down, but the German star ornament we purchased there reminds me of those good times. One year, two busses full of senior citizens pulled in the lot ahead of us and my dad went nuts. “They have no right,” he yelled! Certainly, they did have a right to visit the museum but apparently, not ahead of my dad. He went racing in, and to this day, Paul and I get hysterical when we think of it.
Seeing as how I have a 9-foot tree that is decorated fully, on all sides, I assure you I could go on endlessly, sharing memories of the moments and people who have touched my life with love and happiness.
I’m grateful to have such a magnificent visual to help me look back upon the joys of my life. As I sat there with sadness, I was reminded that life is complicated, and it’s these joyful memories of special people and beautiful moments that help us get through the tough times. In fact, the gratitude and love we feel does wonders to send positive energy into the world, returning more of the same right back to us. That was just what I needed, and I sat there a little longer, taking it all in. Who knew nine feet of artificial foliage could do so much for the soul?