Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Life Through Ornaments

I enjoyed reading about Katie Couric's ornament story in December's edition of Woman's Day. Not only was it a touching story, as she has lost her husband to colon cancer, but I identified with her sentiment. It's the homemade ornaments, the old baubles and goofy decorations that sometimes mean the most. Every year, I have two boxes: my special ornaments that represent the year (starting with my "baby's first Christmas" balls) and then the box of ornaments from our annual "Dirty Santa" ornament party at church. I open them and reminisce.

I think everyone has at least one ornament that makes them laugh and one that makes them tear up every year:

Here is something I bet you all have--either an ornament you made in school or your child made in school. You can see I have always been a Rudolph fan. I made this one in Kindergarten:

Next we have an ornament from a very important year of my life--1993. I believe we all have "markers" in our lives. It doesn't have to be an event that would impress someone else--in fact, that's what makes it so substantial to our own lives: no one can ever appreciate the impact of what it may have meant to us. In this year, I met two people who would always affect my world view and, more importantly, my own intrinsic values. Included in this little silver box are keepsakes that only I can interpret. There's a broken bead necklace, soda can tabs, rocks, and a note relaying some of the "firsts" I experienced as an innocent girl of thirteen:

Here we see a very cheesy me, riding away into my last semester of High School. Those were some of the best years of my life:

This ornament makes me laugh for several reasons. One, it's great significance on a variety of levels. First, 2003 was the year I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My mother and I were both relieved to discover that my behavioral issues weren't all her fault or my fault and as we shopped for an ornament to signify the importance of this new transition of understanding, our joint, dry sense of humor demanded the purchase of this perfect ornament. Who would have known that only a few years later I would officially become the one and only Screw Lucy?

A few ornaments make us take pause and remember how and with whom we celebrate special occasions and ordinary days that become extraordinary. My best friend and I went our separate ways in the year 2000. Then in 2004, while driving to work one day, I felt the presence of the Lord in my heart and I remember speaking out loud,"God, if I ever see her out in public, whether she is angry at me or not, I am going to ask her to forgive me, and I forgive her." I felt a weight lift and a peace in the car.

A week later to the date, I received a random email from Danielle. She wanted to see me again. We met in the parking lot of Macy's and to be completely cliche, we picked up as if we had never missed time. Here is the ornament I chose that year:

In 2005, another best friend bought me an ornament that was very descriptive of my life. I had acquired a job as a retail manager--of shoes! I had over one hundred pair. I was so pleased to find this in a gift bag under the tree:

It was a very Barbie year that year--but also a year of challenges. I decided to go visit my cousin in New Jersey all by myself. I don't advise that you do this--I had to pretend to be someone else in order to make it through the six lanes of traffic and a round-a-bout (WHAT is THAT?!?) to survive, but I made it! Then on the way back home I have a very funny story that involves no rest stops and a Big Gulp cup. I'll just say, I've got skills...

This could be an ornament for all years. I always loved Harley Davidson motorcycles and swore I would have one by the time I was twenty five. I guess I'll be waiting for a while, but in the mean time, I have this ornament to tide me over:

This ornament represents 2008 and has nothing to do with my love of Sci-Fi--because I don't love it. It does, however commemorate the fact that I dated Garrett Wang, better known as Harry Kim from Star Trek Voyager. The ornament lights up, therefore far brighter than he:

In 2010, I rummaged through my ornament box only to unwrap a golden angel that had increased in value a thousand times since the year prior. I stood by the tree dumbfounded, having forgotten that I owned it--having forgotten so many things over the course of that particularly strenuous year. The cherub was on her knees in prayer, two stars flanking her to the bottom right and left.

I could barely make out the inscription, but it was still there, faint and crying out in it's simplicity: Sarah 1994 From Shannon.

I lost my brother in 2010.

Every year I hold it to my breast and remember what the holidays mean to those who mourn.

Then I laugh as I can almost hear my brother saying (he was a proud Navy man),"Hey look sis--it was made in the USA!"

We collect our ornaments, collect our emotions, collect our thoughts and our plans for the new year every season.

And then we gather together with those who remain and recollect the meaning of it all.

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