The Twelve-ish Ornaments of Christmas: A Mother’s Gift

Our Christmas tree holds the stories of our lives in many ways, With many of the ornaments having special meaning to us. Dan suggested that I tell some stories connected to the most meaningful ornaments in the days preceding Christmas, wise and wonderfully sentimental soul that he is- a writing prompt that I gladly embraced. As I gazed at the tree and studied each ornament, I thought it best to start at the very beginning (as Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music so beautifully sang)…Westwood Lane and an ornament from the tree of my childhood.

When I think of Christmas, I can’t help but think of my mother. She was the spirit of Christmas personified, making the holiday magical each And every year. I still have no idea how she managed it; there was never enough money to pay the bills or buy enough groceries, much less to purchase presents and decorations. And yet, somehow, some way, she did. I know that she was always on the lookout for the perfect gifts for people. She began early in the year, shopping at garage sales, flea markets, bartering with friends, putting things on lay-away, and giving away her own cherished treasures if she felt someone would like them, hiding them away in the drawers of her mahogany chest-of-drawers. She thought carefully about gift giving, lovingly choosing things that matched people well the best she could, observing people to learn their tastes, their likes and dislikes. She gave selflessly in the true spirit of the season.An ornament from my childhood tree…

To this day, I can still feel the overwhelming excitement and anticipation of waking up in the wee hours of Christmas morning, jumping out of bed and turning the knob of my bedroom door, opening it to see the living room transformed by Santa in the glow of the large bulbs of tree lights. My stocking would be stuffed and hanging on the mantle, always with an apple, an orange, an English walnut, and my favorite peppermint patties at the bottom. Gifts would be arranged on the piano bench and around the tree, and a plate of cookies- one half eaten- would be sitting on the side table. I believed in Santa until well past the time when I should because of my mom’s creativity, enthusiasm, and love.

Perhaps I still believe. Mom enjoying her last Christmas with us with just as much joy as she always brought to the holiday.

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