Sunday, December 11, 2011
Our Christmas tree lights always end up in a huge tangled clump in their storage box. Abbott took on the task of untangling them – a heroic act, that, having the patience to take it on and see it through to completion. Cal carefully unwrapped each and every ornament, remembering the story behind most of them, and placed them in groups according to who got to hang them. Every year each of us is given a new ornament. I think our tree is pretty wonderful because of it; it tells many stories. Abbott’s infant footprint in plaster of paris, made for Alexi the year he was an infant; a few I made when I was a child; a set of Thomas the Tank Engine ornaments from the year when that was all Abbott cared about. Some made by my maternal grandmother before I was born; one from my Aunt Linda from India ('Tell us about when Aunt Linda was in India.')....
From time to time I fret about what kind of holiday memories my boys will take with them into adulthood, without family living around us and any set traditions. And I realized tonight that I don't need to worry so much about that. They both know and value our family stories. I understood this fully for the first time as we unpacked the Christmas boxes and I saw what they remember. Memories happen because of the emotional content of a thing, be it a tradition, an object, an experience. The care taken in choosing the ornaments, these objects that serve as a marker of time for us, and the act of giving is in itself creating family memory, our holiday tradition, something they will remember and take with them long into the future.
And so we are fully immersed in this season, now, on this third Sunday of Advent.