I’m packing up Christmas decorations today. This is a task I’ve sometimes grumbled about and often found melancholy, but this year I’m feeling at peace. That may be because I’m not working against a deadline, but I doubt it.
The fact is last year’s holidays were more difficult than anything we had ever experienced or imagined. Marge was just heading into her chemotherapy. We did not utter our darkest thoughts, such as that we might be having our last Christmas together, and we propelled ourselves forward fueled by one part will to two parts desperation.
By contrast, this year’s holidays were serene. In our better moments, we have come to accept that life is fragile and finite as well as precious. Putting away the ornaments is giving me the chance to remember our Christmases together. There have been 42 since we got married in 1968. The last 30 have included Elizabeth. We have never been separated on Christmas, not once in all those years, so there are lots of memories.
The ornaments themselves tell part of the story. There are those we purchased, those we inherited, those that were given to us and those we made ourselves. The one shown here was made by Elizabeth in 1985 and cut from a sheet of loose leaf notebook paper. Every year since then Elizabeth has endured the same joke: “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give Santa a big hand…” Every year since then Big Hand Santa has hung on the tree.
Every year since then I have been amazed to discover how much joy can be found in one sheet of notebook paper.