December 11, 2011

I cannot remember when this tradition started, but many, many Christmas’ ago, my mom bought me an ornament. And every year after that, I would go home at Christmas looking forward to seeing my family and opening a few presents, which undoubtedly would include another Christmas ornament.

To be totally honest, I never really thought much of these ornaments– they were small and functionally useless outside of a few weeks in December.

And these were not necessarily expensive or rare ornaments. I think that sometimes she would just pick out something that she liked or something that reminded her of me.

But after the first few years that this tradition began, it was clear to me that these ornaments had become something that was important to my mom. Even though they were never the most prized of the presents that I would get to haul away every year, I always packed them carefully and obviously held onto them.

It’s hard to believe, but this will be the 3rd Christmas of my life that I will have spent without my mom. For the first two years, I did not have the heart to even put up my own tree. I just couldn’t deal with going through all of those ornaments.

But this year, I decided to man-up a little and just do it.

There was a particular ornament that I was especially worried about, this glass acorn.

The year before my mom passed away, my mom and dad made their usual visit to Dallas in October. During this trip I took them to Northpark and found that the Christmas ornament selection was already on display at Barneys. Mom told me to go pick one out that I liked…and I chose this glass acorn.

For  the past two years I have dreaded the meltdown that I might experience when I removed this acorn from its box. But it wasn’t like that at all.

I actually enjoyed going through all of these little boxes of ornaments, many of which are well over 10…probably close to 20 years old now. While going through them all, it suddenly (finally?) dawned on me that my mom had planned this all along. She knew that there would come a day when I would place these ornaments on a tree to celebrate a Christmas without her.

For some people, Christmas has a powerful religious significance. And so it should. For me however, it’s all about family, traditions and memories. It’s the one day every year when we all simultaneously get to ritualistically run down a figurative hallway or staircase in anticipation of “something good” to happen. And hopefully, it happens in a room filled with people that you love, or your memories of them.

The glass acorn from Barneys is placed in the center of my tree this year. But to be honest, this is not the ornament that gets me a little choked up. The ornament that catches my eye every time I walk into the room was not even given to me by mom. The one that I placed in a private nook of the tree that I can only see, is the ornament that dad gave to me during our first Jackson Christmas without her.

Anyway, this is a great tradition – thanks, mom.