The Christmas holiday in our house officially starts when we pull the decorations out of storage from the garage. For a couple of days the house is a mess and then, like magic, our home is transformed into a holiday wonderland. My wife jokes that I have never met a Christmas decoration that I didn’t like…Shhh. Don’t tell her. It’s not a joke.
As far as I’m concerned, the best thing to decorate is the Christmas tree. This tradition started when my parents moved to California right after they got married. As the story goes, they were so poor that all they could afford that first Christmas was a small Noble fir. And, if you believe my mom, she says that right there and then she vowed that each of her children would get an ornament every year so that our first trees as adults wouldn’t be bare.
The next year—I came early in their marriage—she knitted me my first decoration: these gloves. And so began a cherished holiday tradition: finding the one perfect ornament to represent the past year.
Here are some of my favorites.
My wife, then my new girlfriend, and I bought Yoda for our first Christmas together. Watching The Empire Strikes Back on DVD was the date where we both admitted to really liking each other. So, besides training Luke in all things Jedi, Yoda also brought us together.
We picked up this lobster decoration in Maine the next summer. My wife, still just my girlfriend, had discovered how much she loved any type of lobster dish, and so we thought it fitting. Even better, my parents had invited her to join us on our annual vacation, and I knew, for sure, that they had truly welcomed her into the family. And, just as wonderful, I realized that I wasn’t searching for my special ornament any more. We were searching for ours.
Here is the dog we took in to see if we could parent something. A few years later, we happily started an ornament box for our son with his first decoration. That snapshot taken on his first Christmas is still one of my all-time favorite pictures of him.
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, there are lots of favorites. Every year, the tree also holds a tiny Velveteen Rabbit book, a lovely hand-blown glass soccer ball, and a giant Jelly Belly candy on a swing (don’t ask). But what about 2016?
Just the other day, as my wife and I drove home from Thanksgiving at her cousin’s house, she reminded me that we hadn’t found our ornament this year. She was right. No big summer trip or life changing events in the past twelve months.
“We should get something rainbow,” I said, thinking of the November 8th US election and the potentially troubling times ahead. Obviously, there is so much more about us than being lesbian and part of the LGBTQ+ community. But the real beauty of the ornament tradition that my mother started decades ago is that when I look into the twinkling branches of my Christmas tree every year, I see my truest life.
And I don’t plan to stop living it any time soon.
Catherine Lane and her wife live in Southern California with their son and a very mischievous pound puppy. When Catherine finds herself at loose ends, she enjoys experimenting with recipes in the kitchen, paddling on long stretches of flat water, and browsing the stacks at libraries and bookstores. Oh, and trying unsuccessfully to outwit her dog. She is the author of Ylva novel Heartwood.