Is there a way to become a professional Christmas ornament buyer? Because I would happily sign up for that job. I can't pass by a holiday display without stopping (much to Mr. Honeybee's secret chagrin), and I have a huge emotional attachment to our ornaments and decorations.
It took me awhile to understand my depth of feeling for the holidays. When I was little, there was a lot of upheaval in our household...and through no one's fault or design, for a number of years Christmas wasn't what it used to be. It slowly started coming back around my late teens, when my older brother brought home a tree from the local home improvement store and we decorated it in the most simple way possible: with red thread-covered styrofoam balls and candy canes.
Of all the Christmases that have come and gone since, that's one that I'll always remember with a particularly lovely ache. Because it wasn't just the fact that my gruff and often-absent brother had seen this need and fulfilled it for me, unasked---but that he'd also awakened a longing I didn't even know I had.
It wasn't a conscious decision, but looking back, I think that was the point at which I began to fiercely love the holiday season, and to try myself to make it something special, instead of just waiting to be fulfilled. Even throughout the excitement of all the childhood Christmases, there was always a certain disappointment that I never really could put grasp that had nothing to do with acquiring possessions. It wasn't until my brother brought home that tree that I understood that it was actually emotional fulfillment that I'd been looking for--and what great joy could come from one single act of kindness. So the old adage is true...it is the thought that counts. And it is better to give than to receive.
As an adult, I've thrown myself into the whirlwind joy of the holiday season. All the decorating, gifts, wrapping, baking, cooking, and socializing take a certain amount of trouble. But I thoroughly enjoy every part of it. We may have emails instead of letters and adapt to other modern ways of life, but this is the one time of year when everything reverts back to tradition in our household. We send--and write individual messages in--real cards. We bake cookies from scratch. We trim the entire house, using the many ornaments and decorations I am always seeking out or making.
A few years ago, we moved from Washington, DC to our new home in Los Angeles, CA. Nearly our entire household made it unscathed--except for one big box of ornaments,which were damaged beyond repair. Oh, the despair! I cried for a long, long time over that one, and I confess I still have pangs when I search for an ornament that I'd forgotten is no longer there. I know they're only things and have little significance in the larger scheme of things, but I can't help mourning all the same. The ornaments were more than just bits of tinsel and glitter--they were lovely and comforting memories as well.
The nice part of all this, however, is that I do have a wonderful husband who understands his wife's crazy fixation on the holidays. And no matter how often I bring home new pretties and fuss over where to put them, he patiently helps me put them up and admires them. He understands that they are small things that make for a very happy wife...and a very happy home.