Lights and Icicles and Holiday Memories

This season, my life-long, best friend and I have been chatting and texting stories about battery-operated candles gone rogue, misbehaving Christmas lights, and human folly amidst some fa-la-la memories. The candles in her windows, although programmed to a specific schedule, turn themselves on and off at will. We wonder if the timing is portentous and significant, sort of a “da-da-da-dum” punctuation to our phone conversations or her musings as she sits drinking her morning coffee?

David and I broke with tradition this year and only put up a table-top tree, sifting through boxes of decorations for the most memorable (and in some cases the smallest) ornaments to adorn the artificial evergreen. We bought it for our daughter last year on a shopping rampage through Home Goods, the size suitable for her 750 square foot apartment in downtown Jacksonville. Ally left the tree in storage with us when she moved to Charlotte, NC, this spring. We rescued it from the back of the garage during a clean-out-the-clutter flurry at the beginning of the holiday season. I adore our little tree because it is a bit clumsy, better than a Charlie Brown tree, but in need of love: a crooked homemade bow for a topper, only half the ready-wired lights working, not much room for presents. Well-suited to our scaled back gift giving this year, the tree modestly and quietly reminds us of the reason for the season. But it went a little rogue the other morning when I shuffled into the kitchen to make coffee before dawn. I plugged the tree in, and all the lights worked!

It’s good to be reminded that life still has mysteries, and the unknown future exists in tandem with the known past. Moments and people and places to remember balance with anticipation of what lies ahead. This season I hope you have time for reflection. May you appreciate what you have, what you remember, and greet the future with gratitude in your hearts. And may any folly have its fa-la-la drumbeat.

Here is a little story I posted from a prior Christmas that I hope will bring you a little joy.

The year we left Loudoun County, Virginia, to migrate south to Florida in October of 1990, I purchased a set of twenty hand-snipped and twisted tin icicles at the annual Waterford Fair. These colonial-era styled ornaments have graced our Christmas trees for twenty-seven years. Each year, they are the first ornaments to adorn the tree. We parse them out, so each of us hangs a few on the branches. And at the close of holidays, we carefully take inventory.

We remember the year I tied them on with ribbon, and the dog wrestled one off the tree, inexplicably hiding it in a shoe. Or the time we poured too much evergreen tree preservative in the tree stand, and, as the tree aged and dried, the branches curled around the icicles, like a covetous, petrified wood elf in a haunted forest. Only razor-sharp garden scissors and wire-cutters could free them.

Alas, only nineteen icicles remain. But the memories endure.

Wishing you lasting holiday moments.

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