When I married Mr. Restaurant Gal, I bought an ornament to commemorate that event, and hung it on a very small tree along with a few generic ornaments I’d bought at the mall. Several years later, when I was expecting our first baby, I saved the ornaments my friend had tied to the baby shower packages and hung them, too. The next year, with an 11-month old son on the crawl, I felt compelled to buy a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament inscribed with the date.
Another baby and several milestones as a family later, I continued buying one ornament every year for each of us to commemorate something that happened during the year. One year it was a golden fan from an exotic spot, thanks to Mr. Restaurant Gal’s job that sent him all over the globe and gave me the opportunity to follow him. When Restaurant Gal Son was learning to read, a porcelain Man in the Moon reading to a tiny mouse captured a favorite story. A Mickey Mouse globe harks back to a long-ago trip to Walt Disney World that Restaurant Gal Daughter has never forgotten.
Over the years, I bought fewer and fewer ornaments and coveted the ones the kids made. Paper angels with no necks, painted and shellacked bagels, wax paper “stained glass” scenes, incomplete beaded loops and other somethings–we hang them all every year.
I love hanging the commemorative ones, too. I’ll never forget that, in 1996, Restaurant Gal Son pitched a mean game of Little League baseball, because the sports figure with his name and date on it recaptures that winning season. I can’t help but laugh at the memory of the numerous cats that have made our family theirs, thanks to Restaurant Gal Daughter’s incredible power of persuasion to convince us to keep any she took a fancy to. We have multiple ornaments that memorialize each feline that’s happened into our home, although only one lives with us now.
The year both kids took karate is perched on an upper left branch. My daughter’s one-time fascination with marine life is hanging just so to the right. The high school trip my son took to Spain is hanging a little lower.
Graduations, transitions, sports, special firsts–all are captured in pewter and clay and pre-cast figurines dangling from the lighted limbs of a slightly askew tree in my living room.
This year, with both Restaurant Gal Son and Daughter stuck in Colorado as a blizzard blocks their way home, and Mr. Restaurant Gal and I running in different work directions, I alone hung the trinkets on our tree that represent our 20-plus years together.
As I straightened the tiny ballerina’s skirt and adjusted the wheels on the mini mountain bike before finding just the right spots for them, I lingered just a few seconds longer to savor the moments and memories that these fragile figures represent.
With luck and a change in the weather, we’ll all be together by Monday.
A very merry Christmas and holiday season to all from The Gal.