The Lost Christmas
Merry Christmas! My name is Thomas! You know me as ‘the baby ornament.’ I’m that small, wooden figure with your birthday written carefully in blue pen under my feet. I remember your parents picking me out all those years ago. I was hanging on a tree in a tiny hobby shop, and your mother, carefully pushing a new stroller, spied me from across the store--hanging on a branch, eagerly waiting for them--and called over to your dad. He took me off the tree and after a few short words and an excited laugh from your mom I was scanned at the register, carefully put into a nice box and unwrapped again at home where your dad displayed me on that modest tree beside the fireplace while your mother, fully glowing, nursed you on the couch. I’ll never forget that day. Everything was perfect.
The next few years were our glory days kiddo. Every year, I’d be woken up from the quiet rest in my ornament box, stretching and yawning, and I’d hop into your candy cane sticky hands so you could hang me all over again on a pine branch where I would watch diligently over another year’s Christmas festivities. Every roaring waft of Christmas sugar cookies baking. Those vinyl scratches backing up Nat King Cole crooning ‘O Holy Night.’. Your carefree dancing around the tree. The cacophony of family sounds on Christmas Eve as you could barely focus enough to get dressed for the midnight mass, your mother asking you 13 times--I counted-- to get your shoes on. I couldn’t help but laugh that year I saw you slink out after your parents were in bed to sit, dazzled, under the lights of the tree. You whispered guesses, thumbing through the gifts under the tree, and I watched, my heart bursting with happiness at the awe in your eyes.
It was an extra cold year, I remember, when I was taken out of my wrapping and your mother called you over so you could put me on the tree for another year; but something was different. I was ecstatic to see you. You called back to her to put me up herself. I looked over and saw you engrossed in some sort of TV show. I kept a stiff upper lip and waited for you to dance around the tree again this year, or sneak out on tip toes after dark. I waited a long time.
This went on for years. I would anxiously await your joy, desperate to watch the Christmas flame dance through your being. Every year it seems that that flame dimmed into a disinterested, preoccupied and even fabricated happiness. There was even a couple years that I had to check my watch to make sure you didn’t miss Christmas. No, it was here, I was just left in the box.
Then I came out for a few years. Your new house. It was huge! The place looked perfectly manicured. Everything in its place. You were dressed pretty sharply! You had a lot of people over those years. You smiled so big while they were here. As soon as they were gone, the Christmas lights on the tree would be turned off. The leftovers of a picture-perfect charcuterie board dumped into the trash. Christmas seemed only as deep as your to-do list.
I started to miss the real you.
So, this year as the season that makes the world a little more perfect rolls in, I just wanted to remind you of the times you seemed happiest. Those years that the northern lights kaliedoscoped through your bedroom window where you slept, carefree, not a to-do list in your sugar-plum filled head. Or the year you wrapped up your own favourite train toy so you had something to give your dad. I got pretty misty at that one.
Or that year you brought home your first crush. You spent all afternoon cleaning, arranging the gifts, lighting up the fireplace--intent on creating the perfect environment for that first mistletoe. Or my favourite, when you sat with your arm around your brother, teaching him the names of the reindeer so he could get his lines for the Christmas play just perfect.
I really wish you could see what I saw, that blazing sun in your eyes, a joy emanating from deep in your being. *sigh* Real. Not made. I know it’s still there. Don’t be shy about sharing that k?
With Christmas joy,
Thomas, your ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ Ornament.