A Personal Holiday Tradition: A Writer Wednesday Post

December 26th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in Essays

Glad To Be Human Update: Due to an unforeseen publishing delay and my forthcoming annual writing retreat, we must all un-bate our breaths and wait for  the e-version of my essay until some time after my return. I trust the  passage of time won’t compromise the spirit of the piece; still, I thank you for your patience.

To listen to this post, please click here:A Personal Holiday Tradition

Angel of Christmas, photo & all text
© Irene O’Garden 2012

So many words, so many details, so many packages, so much food, so much laughter, so much love. What can be added, the day after Christmas? Here, a brief reflection, occasioned by a favorite ornament.

This glitterworn angel has graced every Christmas I remember. I never heard her her story, but perhaps it goes like this:

My frosty-breathed parents, taking in the holiday lights on a freezing Midwest night. One hand securing his fedora, Dad slides his other arm through Mom’s. She wears the big-collared green coat she loved so well. (He pulled me to him by that collar and said,”Betty, we’re getting married!”)

There, in a thirties’ shopwindow, perched this little musician on her shiny star. Dad goes back the next day for it, surprises Mom on Christmas morning with this happy hint of the children they long for.

The angel takes her Christmas place as their babies are born, ornaments four lonely-needled trees in a row while my father is at war. In the stylish fifties, she could have looked cornball, but instead retained her charm.  Jetson-era, while I made jazzy silver-sprayed table-trees of styrofoam balls and toothpicks, she was not threatened in the least. Other ornaments came and shattered or aged poorly, but high in the branches or low, hung to the front, or hung to the back, she hung on.

When Dad passed and Mom sold the house, I retrieved this little Ghost of Christmas Plastic from the estate sale box.  For some years, she hung year-round as part of a wall grouping I made with an old parasol and some sheet music.

Eventually she went back to her seasonal appearance. And perhaps it was she who inspired me some years ago to begin a personal holiday tradition.

When it comes time to trim the tree, we make a point to give thanks for a special blessing with every ornament we hang. There are always new blessings to give thanks for—creative efforts, new friends, trips and so on–but certain ornaments evoke specific thanks each year. The red cardinal is always for John’s Mom. The seashell strung with golden rickrack hangs for coastal friends.  And this little angel always seems to sum up the season’s best and oldest truths.  I hang her here today, in thanks for you.


What’s your personal holiday tradition?

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  • Jackie

    What a lovely post. And a lovely tradition. We have a tradition of bringing an ornament back from each trip we take, so some remind us of fun times. Many came from my childhood tree. One from my grandmother’s tree. Many now come from Molly who, when she can’t be here at Christmas, makes sure we have an ornament from her to open on Christmas morning. This year’s is handblown glass from Vermont and sparkles like no other as it reflects the lights. Lovely. All blessings.

    • Thanks, Jackie–so happy that Molly can at least sparkle on your tree if she cannot sparkle in person!

  • giom

    …you bring us deeply into our hearts at this time…as any time…thank you dear one…for me (as for Francis of Assisi) it is about contemplation…as I place the nativity figures in a peaceful pastoral scene….again…and again……

    • giom, so glad to think of you in contemplation, for I know the joy it brings you–

  • alison

    When the girls were tiny, we began collecting historical and fictional characters for the tree. Each year 3 new figures would find their way, each one speaking to an experience from the prior year: Sherlock and Watson for Mary and George’s membership in the Baker Street Irregulars, Thomas Jefferson when Flora went to UVA. I’ve never thought of a prayer for each ornament, Irene, but the very act of remembering how and why that famous (fictional or real) person ended up on the tree is a touching reminder of the passage of time. Also, a tradition in our family is hanging the OGarden/Pielmeier card on our fridge. much love to all.

  • Brian h

    We have a tree filled with ornaments from our lives as a couple. They are very beautiful reminders of all our friends from everywhere we’ve lived. Now though, new ornaments are appearing with another layer of theme, our family. We have a family! Another experience all together. How lucky are we? The holiday creates an opening for appreciation, the ornaments will help us reflect. Thanks for sharing your reflections.

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