As we were preparing for the holidays, we drove around the island and saw windows showcasing various Christmas trees. Some were flocked, some tall, some short, some had multi-colored lights, while others had lights of only one color. All were beautiful.
And I realized that Christmas trees are as individual as those who decorate them. For instance, our tree this year had a Hindu goddess beneath it, just because, to me, she represents calm, peace in a harried season, a frantic world. One branch of our tree had an ornament bearing the word “God” in Hebrew, memory of my year studying biblical Hebrew. Another ornament represented Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, a university built on Potawatomi ground which has Potawatomi burials on its campus.
Then there were the handmade ornaments created by my mother and my mother-in-law; such special memories. My mother’s are knitted, my MIL’s are ceramic from a class she took. Both mothers are gone now.
A carved wooden fish, in a Pacific Northwest design, brings back memories of our lives in Seattle, where my husband and I met, married and raised our family. Where he still has a cabin on the shores of Puget Sound.
Several ornaments tell the story of a trip to a Christmas shop in San Francisco, taken some 30 years or so ago. Bread from Boudin’s, chocolate from Ghirardelli’s. A visit with my “sometimes aunt.”
Ornaments from our first Christmas are also found on our tree. They’re a bit “used,” but we hang them every year to remember that first Christmas when we were getting used to living together. They’re antiques now, as are we!
Some of our ornaments are from craft fairs in years past, one from the artist’s gallery in Kalaheo where I work. All tell a story of life lived, love shared.
But one special ornament is pale blue ceramic, a sleeping baby, with the words “Kenneth Nolan December 30 1995” on the back, a memorial for our grandson whom we never got to hold. Every year it finds a special place on our tree.
So in 2020 as you set up your tree, pull out the boxes of ornaments and begin to hang them, may they bring back memories of special times with the people you love, and memories of those who have gone before. And may new ornaments deck your tree, memories for the future.
Susan Campbell is a resident of Kalaheo.