You can tell a lot about a person from the way they decorate their Christmas tree. Some have themes. Others are meticulously color coordinated. What makes me happy about our tree is it reminds me of so many stories long forgotten.
The tree itself is my childhood Christmas tree – well over 40 years old. My parents long since bought a new tree and I took the old one. I remember as a child getting up at night to sit in the living room and stare at the Christmas lights. It felt so peaceful and magical.
The tree is now decorated with old, homemade ornaments, ornaments from my travels and a few colored orbs.
Digging out the ornaments reminds me of where I’ve been. And as December is a time of reflection, a re-evaluation of what one wants in the coming year, it brings back a lot of memories.
Now working full-time, I find myself writing less. It leaves me with a sense of unease, a constant sense of having a phantom limb. A piece of me is missing.
And so, I have resolved to start back my writing practice by writing about these ornaments and their stories for the month of December.
This first ornament is the oldest ornament on my tree. The year was 1987. It was a gift from a relative. I don’t remember which one. 13 year olds are not good at noticing that sort of thing. Oddly, it has my actual name on it – almost everyone called me “Missy” at that time. I think it was made at a Things Remembered store. Having items engraved back then was novel thing to do.
I always wanted to be called Melissa, but I remember arriving in Florence in 4th grade and being told by my classmates that they already had a Melissa, so I would have to be Missy. I tried again in high school, but it wouldn’t stick. It wasn’t until I got to college and began to introduce myself to new people, that Melissa was born.
When I look at this little sleigh, I remember a very awkward junior high girl with a bad perm and braces. She tried to buy the designer clothes her friends had, but she was short and extra small, so they didn’t fit. I almost disappeared inside a baggy Coca-Cola sweatshirt. She was shy, but very driven. I remember very much wanting to succeed – to win spelling bees, to get good grades.
She read a lot, but she didn’t have a voice – not yet. She was uncertain about what the future would hold and had not yet found peace with uncertainty.
She only found peace at night, sitting in an armchair staring at the Christmas lights, dreaming of magic.