The scent of freshly baked cookies wafted through my little home on Sunday morning as I unwrapped my Christmas decorations to deck the halls of 2020.
As a child, I was obsessed with all things Christmas. As an adult, I’ve become busy and a little complacent about holiday cheer. However, in 2020, I will claim any spark of joy offered to me, after all, what do I have to do but decorate my house and bake cookies?
In years past, I would spend a few hours to put my tree up and unwrap ornaments to hang from its branches. My decorations were there, but in my opinion, you could tell my heart wasn’t in it. This year, I made a weekend of it.
I worked from morning to night to brighten my home with twinkle lights on the front and back porches and in every room in between. I started with baking cookies to snack on throughout the weekend, adding icing and sprinkles to spread the holiday cheer.
The first order of business was the tree. As I opened my boxes of ornaments, I realized I have not taken the time to go through each and every ornament since I moved out of my parent’s house. My plastic McDonald’s ornaments were mixed in with treasured gifts from grandparents. All were safely wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue paper, but I wanted to see everything I had.
I spent hours unwrapping each and every ornament and separating them into keepsakes, treasures, and just pretty ornaments. At the end of the process, I was left with warmth from taking a moment to hold each and every ornament. I think the warmth I felt was the love of the people who’d carefully picked out each ornament for me throughout my life.
I sat on my living room floor, holding my very first Christmas ornament, a music box that plays, “You are my sunshine,” in twinkling little notes. The tag, still attached from 1994, holds a loving note to newborn me from my parents. Happy tears filled my eyes as I listened to the plunking of the gears singing my lullaby. How lucky am I to be loved this much?
Each ornament unwrapped threads of memories in my mind as I examined the ornaments for my mother’s handwriting on the bottom or side, marking the year I was given the ornament, and who gave it to me.
As my 26 years of holiday memories flooded my mind, I started wondering why these items, in particular, hold such significance in my mind. My conclusion is that there is magic in only seeing these items for one month of the year.
How can something so seldom used, trigger so many memories? Is that was the magic of Christmas is about? It lives, for the most part, in one month out of the year, making it a novel, and a bit magical.
Sitting at my desk at work, writing this column, I can easily smell the yellowed tissue paper and traces of cinnamon from years past attached to the objects in the boxes labeled, “Emily’s Christmas Stuff.”
In a year like 2020, I am more grateful than ever for the opportunity to relive childhood memories while simultaneously making my home merry and bright.
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice