I was SO proud of myself when I moved.
I moved from big house to a little apartment and had to purge like mad. I did too…with gusto! It wasn’t all easy, but as I did it I felt lighter and lighter and freer. When I got into the apartment and unpacked I got rid of more stuff; I still am, actually, loosening my grip on more and more things.
I gave away an inordinate amount of Xmas stuff. Oh god, we HAD such an inordinate amount!! Xmas was Tom’s favorite holiday and I loved it too and when the kid came into the picture… well, let’s just say a friend gave our house the nickname of the Xmas whorehouse. I’d like to say it was all in perfectly wonderful taste, but it really wasn’t…it was a lot of stuff piled upon stuff, happy piled happier. We loved it. We had parties and our friends loved it. Every window and mirror had lights, every surface covered with whatever, lights and reindeer and decorations out front…crazy. My wonderful neighbor across the street gave us outdoor decorations every year because then she could look out at our house and enjoy them from her kitchen window! Whatever it was, Tom dutifully put them up. I handled the inside, layering object upon object.
We had a fake tree because of allergies, but it was great, because Thanksgiving weekend we brought it out and that’s what we did, ALL weekend! No plans after Thanksgiving day…we got the house done. Tom, and later Tom and Wonder Boy, would be doing the outside as I dug everything out and started inside. Then Tom would do the tree. We would help him straighten the branches and put them on, but only he did the lights. Tom could be very precise, well, anal, if he wanted to be, and that’s the way he was with the lights. I mean, it took him HOURS. He didn’t want anyone to help, which was great because, frankly, it drove me a little crazy. He swore constantly as he layered the lights; there was always a string going out that had to be replaced or something wrong. While he was placing the lights, one by one, string by string……oy! I was doing my thing, the Xmas carols were blasting and life was….well, it was perfect. When the lights were FINALLY on we were usually pooped, so the next day I would put the actual decorations on (less anally, but carefully!) Many were collectable and all of the best ones told a story. Each year we would get decorations that meant something that year to us….the beautiful Iris bulb I got the year my sweet friend Margaret died or the Italian pitcher commemorating our trip to Italy, , the Santa -on-the -soccer-ball that the kid chose one year, the Broadway Cares ornament or the Kings one that Tom loved. I admit to being the chooser most of the time..often as a surprise. We would be decorating and out would come the ornaments I selected for each of us and bought that year, and we’d hang those first, pride of place.
It was great; I have fabulous memories of all of those Christmas’s that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
When I moved so much had to go. Outside decorations stayed close, getting picked off by neighbors. I sold a few, but gave away most of the good ones to good homes. I packed a few up for my son and some for me and mine have been living in boxes in my armoire in the living room since I moved here. I also saved various and sundry little chatchkes that I have deposited, tastefully, around the place. I got a little tree, lit it, cranked the Xmas carols (another thing I have far too many of but at least they are all in my iTunes!) and with great anticipation, and not a little trepidation, pulled out the ornaments I had saved.
DAMN! My over-riding sense was that I know why I kept the ones I did, but where the hell are the ones I thought I had kept? Where’s the Angel on the cloud that commemorated the Xmas movie Tom wrote for Hallmark one year? Where is the Cowardly Lion that was given to the kid the last Xmas Tom was with us, because he had won the part in his schools production of The Wiz Of Oz? Where is that Radko Disney ornament I had surely kept for me? A wail went up in Who-ville this afternoon, I’ll tell you.
And yet, as I said earlier, I know why I kept the ones I did. Almost all of them were MY ornaments. Some I had owned since my first tree on my own so many years ago, some even from my childhood. Most were from the years we collected as a family, and then some I got after Tom died, that spoke to my grief. I chose these ornaments all for a reason. I kept the Santa on the soccer ball because that was such a happy time in our lives, I remember that. I kept the Broadway Cares ornament because I learned to love musicals as much as Tom did, and there were a couple of shows he had auditioned for on the ball (it was the last one I got for him, that last Xmas). Those were the ones I kept for my guys, and the rest are for me. My ornaments on my little Charley Brown tree. They speak to me, my life now and then and they are perfect, just as all the ornaments over the years have always been.
I haven’t picked up a new one this year yet. I actually had not planned to, but today, as I decorated, I changed my mind. I am going to start looking. This year of incredible change and growth needs commemorating in some way. Well, in that way, the way we do….with the perfect ornament. I guess I am doomed to collect, the gesture has become a part of me. Instead of 3 new ornaments a year there will be only one.
For me. MY life as it is. Pretty damn good.