For years, it’s been a bit of a chore squeezing all our ornaments onto the tree. I have mentioned before that my mother-in-law didn’t believe in enough. Each member of our family has received one (or more) ornaments from her every year, and each year she combed the tree to make sure every one of them had been put up. Of course, the rest of the family has given us ornaments, as well. It was just too much.
Well, we lost Marsha last spring, so this was the year I finally didn’t have to put them all up, and I found I was rather more fond of a number of them than I realized. Some I have always loved, like the big Victorian glass balls with glitter. She also had a penchant for giant things—snowmen, angels, reindeer—often stuffed, that seemed to devour branch space. She gave us tons of Hallmark “collectables” that broke easily, as well. This year, it was ok to give up on the broken ornaments, but I just had to put up some of the big stuffed ones. There are ones with little hand-written notes to the kids; those had to go up.
And I could remember more of the times she smiled and fewer of the times she bitched. We put up the beautiful wreath she gave us one year, and I remembered how excited she was to have found it because it looked so beautiful in our living room.
Christmas is not my favorite holiday. (That was yesterday.) Decorating the tree often had an element of obligation, but this year was different. I guess in finally being able to pick and choose from among the ornaments Marsha gave us, I was able to pick and choose among the memories, as well, and I chose my favorites.