This morning I am hanging the ornaments on the Christmas tree. I'm late to it this year. I am impressed by how neatly I have put them away from last year. Each one carefully wrapped in its own piece of white tissue, nestled neatly in the box.
It's the unwrapping that brings tears to my eyes. Most of the ornaments have been around since my daughter was in elementary school. I know these ornaments intimately, having seen them year after year, yet I still register some surprise as I open each one. Oh, the gingerbread ornament she made in kindergarten! The white crane for luck! Ha! The sock monkey! Every ornament tells a story.
There is Edward, the ornament that looks like a horse she used to ride. When he died, she and everyone else at the stable was devastated. He was a mean one, and sometimes he bit, but there he is, immortalized on our tree year after year.
There are a few random pieces of fruit ornaments that no one seems to like but me. Sparkly purple grapes and a sparkly green pear, that I chose because they are pretty. Why is there fruit on the tree?
Every year we add one new ornament to the tree. Last year it was an Elvis ornament, something my daughter picked up in Texas, I think. If it were up to me, Elvis would never be on a Christmas tree, but most of the choices have been hers. The ornaments are a timeline. The handmade ones from elementary school to the glass ornament with the name of her college, they reflect nearly twenty years of our lives.
Each ornament has a story, and every story pulls at my heartstrings.
I have tears in my eyes as I hang this year's newest ornament. I worry this will be the last Christmas we are all together. Children grow up and leave the nest. I just didn't realize how quickly it happens.
All the ballerinas, all the horses, all the sock monkeys and even Elvis. They all have a story to tell. This year I am listening with a heavy heart.