This year (2011) I revived my old Christmas tree ornaments. For a while, I had been using some elaborate decorations from a store in Oakmont, but I got them cheap at a house sale in an upscale housing development. I thought I would do an upgrade of our normal Christmas decorations, but after several years, I got lonesome for the old homemade and vintage ornaments that I used to hang on our trees.
I was actually pleased to pull an ornament out of the box and think about the memories attached to each one. They had all been wrapped carefully in pieces of newspaper and placed in their boxes, and there are 3 file-box sized containers of them, so it is quite an undertaking. It is amazing how many memories are brought to life by these sometimes battered or tacky but always interesting decorations. A lot of them I made in the 1970s when I needed something to do in the long evenings alone. I even painted plaid shirts on my Raggedy Andy ornaments, which shows you what kind of evenings I was having.
I finally got to my three favorites, as always with great anticipation. Don’t ask me why they are my favorites, because they don’t have any fond memories attached to them, but I always smile when I unwrap them – especially when I see Peace.
I love Peace most of all. She is a red velvet bell with that beautiful word embroidered in gold thread, and I have always called her Peace because of that. Her unnamed sisters are a purple choir girl with an open felt mouth to show she is singing and a pale blue felt angel with white wings kneeling with praying hands. They appear to be homemade – but not by me.
As I’m putting them on the tree, I relive the day I got them as a gift, and I can remember Peace flying across the living room. I find it remarkable that an ornament with that name would have been subjected to her violent introduction to my home.
I received these three sisters from the father of my children. I never call him by name or by the designation of first husband or any other normal thing that he might be called. I prefer to neutralize him and disconnect him from me and only hook him into my life by way of the children. Thus, he is always known as the father of my children, and after this, I will refer to him as “he”.
He went on a weekend hunting trip. I don’t remember or may not have ever known what area of the woods or mountains he was visiting. I was just told it was a hunting trip. After this marriage ended and I had my rose-colored glasses permanently removed, I realized that his hunting may not always have involved guns or walking in the woods.
At the time of this hunting season, however, I was still not as aware as I could have been. However any of this happened, in my world, the weekend hunting trip extended into a 5-day absence with no phone call to inform me of a change of plans. Needless to say, by the time he returned home sans any deer strapped in the bed of his truck, I was somewhat concerned, mightily overwrought, and I was loaded for bear. I was now going to go hunting.
As he stepped into the house with some trepidation, I believe I uttered the standard mantra of neglected wives, “Where have you been?” I no longer remember or care what his answer was, but as he followed me into the living room, and as I turned to ask another question, he tentatively handed me a small bag. He knew that I loved Christmas ornaments and in this bag were nestled the three decorations that I have already described.
The contrast of this thoughtful gift combined with his thoughtless absence was more than I could stand. I had no recourse but to rip the ornaments out of the bag and, without examining them, throw them across the living room. I believe I even picked Peace up again and threw her a second time. I now think about my lovely Peace making her first trip through my home. She didn’t know at the time that she was going to be a much-loved addition to my Christmas holidays, and that certainly did not happen until years after she took up residence. Now I just find it so delightful that such a beautifully named item should have had such a windswept introduction to her surroundings.
Ah, I am so glad that I made the decision to return to my old ornaments and leave the stylish but lackluster decorations behind. I am sure that those upscale ornaments have a much greater monetary value, but they offered no solace to me. When I stood back and looked at this year’s tree, I saw that Peace again was in her place of honor front and center. She now hangs there as acknowledgement of the peace I have found with her and within myself. I am thrilled to have each and every ornament back with all the memories they inspire, but as odd as it may seem and for whatever convoluted reasoning, I will always love Peace the most.