The 8 eventful days I'll be in Long Island will consist of (1) show in Smithtown, a lot of gorging, catching up with family and friends, a trip to Manhattan, possibly a trip out east to the wineries, and other things I can't recall. My mother and sister mapped out our entire week together, including hours of rest. I have to admit that I find much humor in this, as all the details in what we do really do not matter to me as long as we are together. Meandering Manhattan DOES however, excite me. We plan to shop, visit the gigantic Christmas tree, possibly ice skate in Central Park, and eat street pretzels by the financial district. In my opinion, there is no site more beautiful than Christmas in Manhattan. I plan on bringing my guitar and busking the streets in between, naturally. I can't wait.
Silently I sat and admired the work we accomplished in festively decorating our surroundings. The tree, glistening with white lights and standing slightly cocked to the right, serves as an ornamented piece of our history; as children, young adults, as a couple. Those ornaments most symbolic of special times, I placed gently in the front and center of the tree. They will serve as a reminder of the beautiful past I've endured through love, family, and friendship as the next twenty two days continue to rush by.
I want to share with you the following ornaments, and why to me they are symbolic, what they are symbolic for:
THE GOLDEN MACARONI WREATHE:
Comical, as my husband's muted objection is a result of my relentless nature to find a home for it somewhere on the tree. I don't care how ugly it is….. it's one of the first things that I had CREATED, and was most proud to take home to mom and dad. It makes me think about my childhood, what Christmas meant to me then, and how's it changed now. I remember the excitement of climbing in the crawl space and handing my mom decorations from the attic, and helping my father sort out the color coded branches of our fake tree. From one Chistmas cassette tape to the next, I'd switch or would flip over to the other side till I had completed setting up the manger, train set and village underneath the tree.
I can still smell the smoke of the wood burning in our fireplace, the crisp cold air, the smell of mom making chocolate lollipops and apple crisp pies. These were the years our family gatherings were at an all time high. Where everyone would come together at my one aunt's house, would eat and share several courses till we couldn't possibly eat anymore. The years which one of the uncles or adults would dress as Santa, and would hand all the excited children their gifts, and our parents would record every moment with their video cameras.
The years which Christmas eve meant we'd have a big Italian dinner, then go to church to sing Christmas songs, and then come home and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" as a family tradition.
The years which I'd wake up everyone in the house at 5AM, when dad would light up the fireplace and get coffee going, and the Mariah Carey Christmas tunes would be jamming as we'd open our presents.
SMOKEY, SADIE, PENELOPE:
The animals I loved, the animals that brought me sooo much joy, my first pets symbolic of three very important periods in my life; childhood, young teen to college bound young adult, Adulthood. The two of three whom which have passed but who's memories I'll forever cherish. My best friends, the only ones who's love for me ever was unconditional and unbiased.
Smokey was a rabbit, He brought me 6 years of happiness, and companionship when my sister was away at college. Outside I'd play with him for hours, creating adventures for the two of us, and chasing him around the yard. I used to be convinced that someday he would have babies, even though he was a male and never had anyone to mate with. As most kids do, I'd long for snow days, just to play outside with Smokey during the winter. He was my first pet, and I was devastated when he died.
Sadie, my first dog, the dog I begged an entire life for, came as an early Christmas present when I was 13 years old. She was the most beautiful puppy, and grew up to become a mischievous dog who would steal ornaments off of the tree. She lived for 14 years, and last Christmas was our last Christmas with her. I cried for days when she died, as a piece of my childhood died with her. I remember coming home on the school bus, which the bus would pass my house, and I could see through the window that she'd be waiting at the door with her tail wagging. When I went off to college she fell into the hands of my parents as I was no longer around to take care of her. I was always excited to come home to her though, and she never forgot me. I still miss her today.
Penelope, my current hairy baby, was the first dog i bought on my own when I moved to Rochester. She's my right wing, and represents all that I've known since I've truly been on my own. I've had her as long as I've been in Rochester, and she reminds me of how far my relationship with my husband has come, how much I've grown, and how far I've come on my own in the years.
Each animal has their own ornament, and will forever have a place on the tree, and in my heart.
THE BASEBALL GLOVE
Partially a reminder of my tom-boyish past, but also an ornament purchased while vacationing with my family in Cooperstown, NY. Traditionally, my mother would purchase an ornament for my sister and I at every destination we traveled to together and hold them aside for us. Two different ornaments from the same place, each contained a characteristic which was symbolic of our likes and differences as children growing up. Once we were both older, my mother sat my sister and I down with each of our boxes of ornaments to weed through. I kept the majority of mine. Not only are they memories of past vacations, but are reminders of how fortunately spoiled we were growing up to have traveled sooo many destinations. I know I speak on behalf of my sister and I when I say this, but those travels are what made us both worldly in perspective, gave us a cultural perspective, taught us historical lessons, and made us the open minded individuals, and good people we are today. I will forever be grateful for that.
Ahhhhhhhhh, the years which we nailed our hand-me-down Christmas tree to the wall in order to stay up. Those were the years we made our college apartment our home away from home, and which my roomies were my family away from my family. We'd decorate our meager tree with tinsel, stolen ornaments, and some ornaments of our own from our past, in the company of a 30 rack of Keystone Light and Christmas music. We'd wrap our gifts in the family living room as we'd watch 90210 re-runs, laugh as we recalled some of our drunken stupor, and anticipated our winter break, which were followed by an intense week of rigorous testing as another semester slowly came to an end. The years which responsibility truly didn't have to settle in yet, which our experience was equally valued as our education earned. When sorority's and fraternity's were where we most invested our heart and soul, when free food never tasted better, and binge drinking was a natural part of our existence. I smile every time I think back to it, and marvel at the fact that it was only five years ago since I've graduated, and can not believe how far I've come, how much I've matured.
"OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS" ornament
The year "love" became a term delivered with true substance. The year I began to truly understand what it meant to "be" in love, and recognized that it was possible for someone beyond friendship and blood relations to love me just as much, or even more.
I remember the first Christmas holiday Brian came to visit. We exchanged gifts, this ornament being a part of our first real gift to one another. I showed him around where I grew up, and shared with him for the first time a lot of the memories I just recalled in looking at those ornaments. I took him into Manhattan for the first time, and I showed him around the city during the time I believed it to be most beautiful. It was the first time I so openly shared any of that with a boy, and the first time which it meant something to him because it meant sooo much to me.
It's been many Christmas's since that we've spent together, and many more are yet to come. I still sometimes can not believed that I am married, that we are putting up our very OWN Christmas tree, with our OWN ornaments, that we are creating our OWN memories in our OWN house.
With life being sooo hectic lately, I feel guilty for not always being conscious of that. I really am sooo lucky for sooo many reasons.
Sometimes we need those reminders……
Take a moment away from all the chaos and look around at what truly is important, reconsider the reason why you are the person you are, what and who has provided you with a lifetime of fulfillment. In doing so, you will realize just as I have, that you've already been given the best gift of all.
Happy Holidays everyone <3