For maybe five minutes, I considered having no Christmas tree this year. Then I remembered the googly-eyed mouse and the shiny green thing. How could I ever have thought of leaving them carefully packed away when they've held places of honor on the tree for over 30 years, since my sons made them in grade school? I'm ashamed of myself.
I know plenty of people who don't bother with a tree. My sister in her condo, my cousin with all her cats, and others in our situation, knowing it will be a Christmas with no adult children or grandchildren around, don't bother. What's the point anyway? We're adults and Christmas is for kids. Isn't it?
Yes, it's for kids, and how well I remember. I remember the small hands reaching up into the fir boughs to hang these ornaments for the first time all those years ago, the giggles and excitement, the packages under the tree, and the cookies for Santa. I remember the indescribable love and tenderness I felt, seeing the soft nape of child's neck, the sparkle in their eyes, and holding them in my arms. My babies have grown up but I will hold them close in my memories and heart forever.
Now things have changed. Even my sons' ornaments, in spite my careful handling and storage, show their age. The googly-eyed mouse, with a paper cone hat, yarn tail and walnut shell nest, wasn't always this way. In the beginning his little pompom face clearly showed two black bead eyes and a nose. But then one of the beads fell off and now nobody can be sure which of the three features is missing. Does he have two eyes and no nose or one of each?
The shiny green thing, an original creation by my younger son, is a testament to the lasting power of Elmer's glue. Made of two layers of foil paper on a kite-like framework of toothpicks, delicate as a dragonfly wing, it still survives even though the edges have worn a bit. I keep it in a small box with cotton padding, like the treasured jewel it is. In addition to these, the collection includes an ice cream cone of construction paper and pompoms, a big one for the scoop of ice cream and a small, now drooping one, for the cherry on top. There's also a teddy bear holding a candy cane.
We'll probably have a quiet Christmas here in Tacoma. But no matter what, the googly-eyed mouse and the shiny green thing hang on my tree, and I promise to never, ever again even think of not having them there. When I hung them up this December, with my secret guilt, a tear in my eye, and love in my heart, I knew the truth. I need to see them each year, and I always will, because these are Christmas to me.