Sunday, August 12, 2007

Christmas Memories -- jcarolek

Last Sunday we spent time at my sister’s house celebrating my father’s 73rd birthday. My step mother brought with her a few “finds” which she had made while sifting through, “stuff” in the basement of their home.

What she had found were some old arts and crafts Christmas ornaments, made by my Grandmother, and gifted to her grandchildren. I know we had to have been teenagers when we received these, based on the names on the gifts tags. My brothers had all changed their preferred names when they reached about 11 years old. Timmy became Tim; Daniel became Dan, Teddy became Ted, and Raymond became Ray. Since the gift tags for my now deceased brother Ted, bears this name, I suspect these were gifted in about 1973.

These are not ornaments that show a great deal of artistic talent. Nor are they ornaments that would bring money, should someone take a notion to sell them. In fact, their value to me is measured in the memories they evoke of my Grandma and Grampa. I will not remove the gift tags, for the very simple words written thereon bring back loads of memories of my Grandma’s words, both written and spoken. I can hear her voice.

This has been a week full of strong memories. My mother’s father would have been 103 on August 10, 2007. My brother Ted, who died one month shy of his 25th birthday, would have been 45 yesterday. And these ornaments brought back thoughts of my father’s parents. My Grampa passed away in a house fire at age 75, and my Grandma survived the fire, and lived another ten or so years before passing away with cancer.

So, in this, the very hottest month of the year so far, the least likely time, perhaps to be considering Christmas ornaments, I am doing just that. I will hang these on my tree this year and will craft a few Christmas ornaments myself this year to gift to others. Perhaps thirty or forty years from now, one of my loved ones will “find” one of the ornaments I made for them and will reflect back on the good memories. Perhaps they will find it tucked away along with the ornaments made for me by my grandmother, and they will be richer for the history of thoughtfulness and caring this tradition of handmade gifts represents.

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